VooDoo Floss Compression Bands : Say bye-bye to aches & pains AND say hello to super-fast workout recovery

Every year, we spend approximately a bazillion dollars on all manner of treatments for pain in our necks, backs, feet, shoulders, etc.

Sadly, most of that pain is due to inactivity, poor posture, sitting too long in front of tvs & computer screens, poor training form, etc.

If only there was a way to quickly and inexpensively eliminate those aches and pains?

VooDoo Floss Bands

Way back in 2011, I saw the following Youtube video (with Dr. Kelly Starrett and uber-strong man Donny Thompson) highlighting the use of DISTRACTION and COMPRESSION to help repair shoulder dysfunction…which I happened to be suffering from at the time.

The very next day, I…

  1. Ordered a pair of compression bands, and
  2. Started rehabbing my bad shoulder with the distraction technique.

After 6 days…

  1. My shoulder felt a LOT more stable and was noticeably less painful. I had also resumed resistance training with my focus on rehab.
  2. The compression bands arrived in the mail.

After 2 days of compression & distraction rehab…I was able to press an 80 lb dumbbell overhead with ZERO pain in my formerly-bad shoulder.

In another week, my shoulder felt better than it had in a long, long, long time.

In the 5 years since then…Crossfit exploded in popularity…helping Dr. Starrett become THE mobility  & athletic performance guru…and compression bands became very popular amongst weightlifters, crossfitters, powerlifters AND physiotherapists.

Fast forward to today…and it’s just about time for compression bands (and associated rehabilitation techniques like Donnie Thompson’s distraction technique) to enter the mainstream.

Instead of spending big bucks on massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, etc, it’s time for “normal” people to take advantage of this amazing rehab technique and…

For $65, you will be getting the knowledge and the gear required to keep your joints healthy, strong and pain-free.

And if you don’t want to drop the extra $$$ on Kelly’s book, I have sourced the best “how-to-use-compression bands-to-fix-my-busted-up-body” videos from the Youtubes. They are organized by joint/bodypart.

Note: If you follow the above links (and make a purchase), Rogue fitness will give me 5% of the purchase price as a finder’s fee. It won’t cost you any extra and the dough will go straight into my daughter’s education fund.

If you have any questions about the rehab techniques, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Facebook

Wrist / Forearms






Hip / Thigh








Is Magnesium a Cure for Insomnia and Restless Legs?

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a number of clinical conditions including hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiac dysrhythmias, coronary spasm, premature artherosclerosis and diabetes.

It is also used as a treatment for angina, asthma, gall stones, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypoglycemia, fatigue, fibromyalgia, prevention of hearing loss, kidney stones, leg cramps, migraine, osteoporosis, PMS, prostate issues and INSOMNIA.

And according to government data, 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended intakes of magnesium and 19% of Americans do not consume even half of the recommended intakes.

Not good….and up until 5 years ago, that was me.

Until I was introduced to magnesium supplements during a health & fitness trade show.

A rep for Natural Calm gave me a bunch of samples and while I sleep pretty well, I did notice an immediate effect on my sleep. My mind stopped obsessing over what I did or didn’t do that day or what I had to do tomorrow. Just calm.

And it made me wonder…could something as simple as magnesium be a cure for insomnia?

Since then, I have had no qualms recommending this product to clients & friends who are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or just getting their busy minds to quiet so they can relax.

A mug of their lemon flavor drink about an hour before bed does the trick for me every time.

And recently, while searching for a natural treatment for a friend with neuropathy in both legs, I found a bunch of research about magnesium oil helping to relieve muscle spasms, tension and various forms of neuropathy – pain, restless legs, itching, tingling, etc.

Google also told me that Natural Calm makes a magnesium oil.

So, I emailed the fine folks at Natural Calm and told them about my friend and they sent me a bunch of samples – Magnesium Oil & Gel. (being a blogger can have its perks)

And knock on wood, it’s been a great success. Applied on her legs after a  hot bath and just before bed, my friend has seen a significant reduction in pain, tingling and restlessness.


I was a fan before trying the oil…and I am an even bigger fan now.

So, if you think that supplementing with magnesium may be helpful to you, I can honestly & wholeheartedly recommend both the Natural Calm drink and their Magnesium Oil.

NOTE – You can buy Natural Calm and Magnesium Oil at these links

NOTE #2 – I would love to hear about your experiences (good or bad) with magnesium.


3 Pieces of Fitness Gear that You Need to Buy Right Now!!!!

Back in the olden days, human beings performed manual labor every day. They walked, ran, lifted, carried, dragged, pulled and pushed. Today, most of us spend our days sitting, typing, reading, talking and googling.

As a result, modern humans are fatter, weaker and sicklier than our ancestors. And while some of us are okay with this side-effect of our modern society, a growing percentage of the population isn’t. After leaving their physically inactive jobs for the day, they head over to the gym and spend a big chunk of their free time trying to get stronger, leaner and healthier.

Unfortunately, most of those people start their fitness journey with no idea how they should go about getting stronger, leaner and healthier…and thus fall prey to the marketing promises of the fitness / weight loss industry….a multi-billion dollar business sector that relies on hype and promises…pumping hundreds of new books, dvds, pills, potions and pieces of fitness gear onto the market every year…promising amazing physical transformations…


…and unfortunately, most of this fitness gear is crap.

Luckily for us, amongst all that health & fitness detrius, there are always a few products that…

  • Do what they promise
  • Are worth much more than their purchase price
  • Deserve all the social media love that we can shower upon them.

Here are three of those products


globe grips grip strength

For my personal training clients, Globe Gripz do two important things.

  1. They makes their hands stronger..which allows them to make the rest of their body stronger.
  2. They magically eliminate shoulder joint impingements…eliminating pain, preventing injury and allowing us to reverse decades-old structural issues.


  1. The increased diameter of the Globe Gripz forces your hands to work harder to hold onto the implement – dumbbell, barbell, kettlebells, band, chin-up bar, etc. The increased workload leads to increased muscular strength in forearm, hand, finger strength.
  2. The baseball shape of the Globe Gripz allows my clients to use a neutral grip (see middle image) which reduces the strain, impingement and chance of injury on their elbow and shoulder joints.

It’s a really simple piece of fitness equipment and for less than the price of a single physical therapy session, I have seen my single pair of Globe Gripz help a whole bunch of clients get rid of sore shoulders while make significant gains in grip and overall upper-body strength. They’re a must-buy.


For the past 27 years, I have lifted heavy things, sprinted up hills, jumped over obstacles and bashed into trees, fences and other human beings. And as a result of my somewhat insane behaviour, I have developed more than a few aches and pains. And up until about two years ago, I spent a fair amount of cash on physical therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc, to help minimize those aches and pains.

But since I discovered Kelly Starrett and his MobilityWOD videos, I spend a lot more time fixing my own aches and pains and a lot less money having someone else to do it for me.

Imagine my surprise when I heard rumours that Kelly was working on a book that would take all that video goodness and re-assemble it into book form…complete with an index chapters dedicated to specific injuries/treatments along with step-by-step pictures showing how to perform all of his painful yet awesome rehabilitation exercises.

I was totally geeked. Unfortunately, those rumours started about a year ago and the book was only released on April 23.

Since April 23, I have read the book at least 10 times. Seriously.

If you have aches and pains..or if you exercise on a regular basis..or if you are aging like the rest of us..or you want to be fitter/healthier..or you know someone who fits this description…

BUY THIS BOOK  and save a TON of money on physio, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc….



Jill Miller and her Yoga Tune Up program was introduced to me when Kelly Starrett  featured her in a few of his MobilityWOD videos. In particular, it was this video on diaphragm mechanics that really captured my attention.

Such a simple movement…with a truly powerful impact on the type of aches and pains that sitting in a chair inflicts upon all of us.

After seeing this video, I contacted Jill via Twitter and asked if she would be willing to send me a bunch of Yoga Tune Up stuff with the promise that if I loved it, I would write up a review article. She said yes…and sent me a bunch of videos and therapy balls. And for the past month or so, I have been beta-testing the videos.

The verdict?

Everyone who has tried these videos more than three times has raved about them…me included. And this is coming from a guy who hates, hates, hates yoga classes.


Jill’s program is a weird and wonderful combination of yoga, calisthenics, corrective exercise, movement techniques and body therapy….designed to repair damaged muscle tissue, increase overall strength, create balance, increase flexibility, improve coordination, reduce stress and bolster the immune system.

And while I can’t comment on the immune system boosting, I sure as heck can confirm that doing Jill’s dvds 3 x per week will loosen up your knots, reduce that pain in your neck/back and have you moving, standing and sitting in weirdly graceful manner. I will continue to use her dvds and therapy balls and have recommended them to all of my clients.

Like Kelly Starrett and the folks at Globe Gripz, Jill has put together a unique program that produces massive results with a minimal time and financial commitment…..unlike all of those D-Bags who sell crappy fitness gear on late-night infomercials.

Natural Headache Remedy

There are many different types of headaches and many different methods of treating each type.

Here’s the natural headache remedy that works well for me:

  • Slap an ice pack across your forehead and/or sinuses. I use the Head Coolie.
  • Apply a hot compress to the back of your neck. I alternate between using one of those bean-bag style of hot-compresses and an old hot-water bottle I got from my Grandma.


  • Lay down, close your eyes and work these acupressure point for headaches

I hope this helps 🙂

Say Bye Bye to Sore Muscles

As a personal trainer, keeping my clients pain-free is very, very, very important.

In addition to muscular pain brought on by sitting in front of a computer, talking on the phone, watching tv, etc… weight-training clients are prone to muscular tension as part of the natural workout recovery pathways.

Because of this, I am constantly trying out new methods of preventing stiff and sore muscles

  • Therapy Rollers
  • Electronic Muscle Stimulators
  • Manual & Electrical Massagers
  • Creams
  • Mineral Bath Soaks
  • And all sorts of different physical therapists
And my all-time favorite (as of Sept 2012) are these beauties…
1. The Adjustable MyoRoller
The Myo Roller

2. and the TPRPal….

Trigger Point Release Pal

… from MyoTools.

Incredibly simple… and incredibly smart.

For example, when I am trying to loosen up sore muscles in my back, I position the two closed cell foam balls of the Myo Roller so that they are on either side of my spine…focusing all the force onto the paraspinal muscles themselves. Foam rollers can’t do this. Lacrosse balls can’t do this. Back knobbers can’t do this.

And when I want to roll out my tight IT bands, I push the two balls together to provide a wider rolling surface. Instant foam roller.

It’s also brilliant for loosening up the sub-occiptital neck muscles that are responsible for a majority of tension headaches.


Regarding the TPR Pal, I use it to…

  • work into all the little nooks and crannies in my upper back as well as…
  • using it to break up myofascial knots in my upper pecs
  • I also use it on the soles of my feet to prevent plantar fasciitis

But my favorite use for the TPR Pal is when my wife uses it to give me a massage. Holding the foam side in her hand, she can use the wooden knob to press deep into the muscle tissue without putting any force on her fingers/thumbs. A quick 5 minute massage turns into an awesome 30 minute knot-busting massage session

And when you consider that the Roller costs $20 and 4 TPR Pals (diff size knobs) cost $15, it really is a no-brainer.

Note – As a small-business person, I love the fact that all of these tools are made by hand by the owner of the company…just as soon as you place your order.

He also has a bunch of other cool therapy tools and I am going to place an order for Myo-Vise Body Clamp soon.

Get Rid of Shoulder Pain with Band Traction

The shoulder is a highly mobile joint. Because of that mobility, it is also highly susceptible to injury…. and pain.

Believe me, I know.

  • The younger me used to lift ridiculously heavy weights without ever feeling pain…or giving a darn about the health of my joints.
  • The older me wishes the younger me hadn’t been so stupid.

At one point, my shoulders were in constant pain. I couldn’t sleep without a shoulder aching and an arm falling asleep. It wasn’t good.

And then I found Dick Hartzell, Jump-Stretch Bands and the wonder of his joint traction exercises.

It will take a bit of time, but this stuff is magic for fixing jammed up shoulders.

NOTE: If you’re already doing physical therapy for shoulder pain/injury, please discuss this article with your physio.


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Low Back Pain? Your Hips May Be The Problem

Every year, we spend close to a bazillion dollars on low back pain treatments – massage, pills, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc

  • What if the problem isn’t your back?

Most of us sit on our butts way too much – at work, at home, at restaurants, at movie theaters, etc.

And this can mess up a bunch of the muscles surrounding your hips & pelvis. And when those muscles get all tight, bunched up and inflamed, they can mis-align your hips & pelvis which can lead to mis-alignment of your lumbar spine which leads to lower back pain.

Luckily for you, there are some pretty simple (and 100% free) ways to help repair those messed up hip/pelvis muscles.

I’m not saying that these techniques will fix all your lower back pain…..but they just might.

Give ’em a try.

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If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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America's Lifestyle Diseases Cost the Economy over $153 Billion per Year

Lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and depression are costing the American economy $153 billion per year in lost productivity.

Based on data collected via the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, researchers concluded that chronic health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, asthma, depression and recurring physical pain resulted in 449,847,652 days missed from work… and an estimated productivity loss of $153,398,049,221 per year.

And it gets worse.

  • This calculation doesn’t include productivity lost when employees show up at work but are less productive because of their poor health.
  • As well, the Gallup people didn’t speak with part-time workers.

Previous research which included these factors found that America’s chronic lifestyle diseases cost the nation up to $1.1 trillion per year.

And that’s a lot of money.


Maybe enough money for the government to start throwing some cash into health promotion programs?




I Freaking Love My Vila Acupressure Mat

What the heck is a Vila Acupressure Mat and why do I freaking love it?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

About 5 years ago, a friend of mine came back from Russia with a rather painful present for me. It was a small piece of black fabric with 56 little blue spikey things glued to it.

He told me that all the athletes in Russia have been using this thing for years as a sort of acupressure massage device to heal quicker from workouts & injuries.

After this explanation, he proceeded to go to work on my sore shoulder.

Here’s what happened…

  • First, I need you to imagine a guy with big freaky strong hands squeezing my very sore shoulder.
  • And then imagine that the guy with the freaky strong hands also has 56 very sharp plastic spikes attached to those hands.
  • Now imagine me screaming like a little girl in the middle of the gym where I ran the personal training department.

Luckily for me, after 2-3 minutes of this torture – my shoulder was feeling great and continued to feel great for about 6 or 7 hours.

Pretty cool

A little too S & M for my liking, but still pretty cool.

And for the next 5 years or so, I would periodically break out the Russian Spike Cloth and self-massage whatever body-part required attention.

Introducing the Vila Mat

Two months ago, a PR firm representing Vila contacted me about test driving Vila’s acupressure mat.

On average, I receive two of those solicitations per week.

And of those one hundred-ish product solicitations that I get each year:

  • 90% get deleted after a quick “no thank you” email.
  • Of the 10% that I am interested in testing, about 75% fail the test.
  • That leaves approximately 2.5 products per year that receive the Health Habits seal of approval and receive .

But considering that the Vila looked a heck of a lot like my Russian Spike Cloth, I was eager to try it out.

Test Results

For the past two months, I have put the Vila mat through it’s paces:

  • I lay on it – on my back, on my front, on my sides
  • I sat in a chair with it at my back
  • And I removed the foam pad and used it as an extra-large Russian Spike Cloth

And I freaking love it.

  • I love how it relieves my aches & pains
  • I love how it makes me feel relaxed & alert at the same time
  • I love how when I pulled a back muscle deadlifting far too much weight, it was a bazillion times more effective as NSAIDs and muscle relaxants.

And it’s not just me that loves this thing.

There is actual scientific research backing up the effectiveness of this thing.

Reflexo-Therapy With Mechanical Skin Stimulation – Vila Mat Science – Acupressure Mat


I probably would have never used the original Russian Spike Cloth or my new Vila acupressure mat if it hadn’t been for the personal recommendation of my friend.

I don’t care how much science there was behind this 21st century plastic bed of nails.

But, I did have a personal recommendation…and so do you.

So, if you’re accumulating the usual aches & pains that come along with getting older, I urge you to seriously consider buying one of these things.

Normally it costs $40 via the online store, but because I kept bugging the PR company, you can save 25% by using the discount code HEALTHY.

So there you go, I saved you ten bucks.


Is Obesity a Side Effect of PAIN?

According to  Dr. Peggy Mason (chair of Neurobiology – U of Chicago), eating is a natural form of pain relief.

During the course of her research, Dr. Mason found that rats will not react to moderate amounts of pain while they are eating or even if they are being given a squirt of water directly into its mouth.

Similar to the effect of morphine, eating or drinking causes a part of your brain (the medullary raphe) to automatically and unconsciously block pain sensations.

And while this may be a useful tool for animals in the wild who are faced with food shortages, it is less helpful for humans have 24-7 access to inexpensive, calorie dense food.

And, to make things worse, not only can your medullary raphe ease your pain, it also inhibits your ability to STOP EATING.

And as a result of this double whammy, Dr. Mason concludes that biology trumps will power and that obesity is not as simple as “eat less & move more”.



Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

Fibromyalgia is no match for Exercise

New research from John Hopkins University has found that fibromyalgia patients who engaged in 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity 5 to 7 days per week were able to:

  1. improve their mobility, while
  2. reducing their levels of perceived pain and disability

And as anyone who suffers with fibro surely knows, that is huge.

  • Never-ending pain throughout your body
  • Lack of sleep
  • Complete and utter exhaustion

That’s what it’s like to live with fibromyalgia.

Not fun.

The Study

Researchers asked the participants to increase their activity levels by increasing the intensity of regular everyday activities such as

  • taking the stairs instead of using an elevator,
  • gardening
  • and walking.

Their goal was to push themselves hard enough to cause heavy breathing, but not hard enough that they couldn’t hold a conversation.

The Results

By the end of the study, the participants had increased their average daily steps by 54%.

More significantly, the exercisers reported “significantly less perceived functional deficits and less pain.”

Speaking about these results, researcher Kevin Fontaine said, “The nature of fibromyalgia’s symptoms, the body pain and fatigue, make it hard for people with this malady to participate in traditional exercise. We’ve shown that LPA can help them to get at least a little more physically active, and that this seems to help improve their symptoms.”


In my experience, working with fibromyalgia patients has been one of my most rewarding experiences as a personal trainer. While it can be frustrating at times to see your client struggling with a new level of pain (that I caused), it is an incredible feeling when the situation starts to improve.

As they get accustomed to the exercise and the pain levels start to drop, the workouts take on a whole different light.

They stop thinking of themselves as fibromyalgia patients and start thinking of themselves as just another athlete suffering through another brutal workout avec moi.


[box type=”important”]So, if you know anyone with fibromyalgia, pass this post on to them…and encourage them to get active.[/box]


Related Posts

Post Workout Recovery Techniques

You’ve just finished another gruelling workout.

Now what?

If you’re like Tiger, you’re going to stagger into the change-room, grab a quick shower and head off to the nearest Hooters.

And like Tiger, you would be WRONG

When it comes to getting fit/healthy/buff/ripped/sexy/etc, your workouts are only half the equation. The other half of the equation is Workout Recovery.

And because I love you guys so darn much,  I have put together my favorite Post-Workout Recovery Techniques.

  • Post-Workout Carb/Protein Shake
  • Hot/Cold Contrast Showers
  • Fish Oils
  • Meditation / Sleep
  • Epsom Salt Baths
  • Ice
  • Massage
  • TENS
  • Chiropractic / Acupuncture
  • Traumeel

Post-Workout Carb/Protein Shake

I have talked about this technique before. Simply put, it’s a no-brainer.

Post workout – your muscles are screaming for nutrients. Ignore that message and your workout recovery goes into slo-mo. Heed the message and the repair goes into overdrive.

More info here.

Hot/Cold Contrast Showers

Alternate between 30 seconds of cold water and two minutes of hot water. Perform this shrinkage inducing protocol three or four times.

While most of the claims about this recovery technique are anecdotal, there is some research showing that alternating hot/cold showers post-exercise is effective in lowering both heart rate and the levels of lactate in your blood. Anecdotally, contrast showers have been said to improve athletic recovery via increased blood flow and possible nutrient and waste product elimination (lactate). There may also be a psychological benefit and an increased feeling of alertness and fatigue reduction.

In my personal experience, contrast showers help reduce my post-workout DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) as well as perk me up for the rest of my day.

Fish Oils

Your workouts cause inflammation.

Localized inflammation in joints and muscles. Systemic inflammation throughout your body. Fish oils are a great, natural, anti-inflammatory. Add some to your post-workout shake. If you already have issues with chronic inflammation, you may want to consider adding some Turmeric/Curcumin or Zyflamend into the mix.

Meditation / Sleep

High intensity workouts can be tough on the CNS (central nervous system)

And while there are lots of supplements (natural adaptogens & pharmaceutical agents) out there that claim to help repair & restore the CNS, I don’t feel comfortable recommending any of them. However, I am willing to push meditation & sleep as the two best CNS treatments ever invented.

Sleep – You probably don’t sleep enough already. Add in a tough workout routine and you’re looking for trouble. Get your 7-8 hrs.

Meditation – There are lots of ways to meditate. There are crunchy-granola yoga meditative techniques. There are medical based mindfulness meditation programs. Praying is a form of meditation. There are even mp3s you can buy that claim to help sync your brainwaves into the pattern best suited for meditation. But the simplest method may be to just sit or lie down, put your hands on your belly and focus as your breath flows in and out.

Epsom Salt Baths

Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) are another anti-inflammatory agent.

When added to a nice hot bath, they are absorbed through the skin and helps reduce muscular pain and general “achiness”. It also helps increase your levels of magnesium and may help reduce water retention.

Ice Massage

The benefits of ice massage are questionable at best. But, I know a lot of athletes who swear by it, so I figured it best to include it in this review.

Most of the pro-Ice Massage evidence isanecdotal. The main claim is that ice massage is an effective method for reducing localized inflammation and reducing the symptoms of DOMS. However, the clinical research doesn’t agree. In fact, some researchers feel that ice massage should be contraindicated when it comes to preventing post-exercise DOMS.

So, I leave the decision up to you.

Personally, I will skip the post-workout ice massage. If you need more info, click here.

Therapeutic Massage

There are many different types of massage.

Medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced levels of anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and state anxiety.

Plus, it just feels gooooood.

Get a massage every month or so. Your body will thank you.


TENS is a non-invasive, medically tested, safe nerve stimulation intended to reduce pain, both acute and chronic.

It’s also the subject of cheesy late night infomercials.

And that’s too bad. Because, in my experience, TENS is a great little tool for reducing muscular pain. I bought a unit two years ago after a car accident screwed up my neck, back, shoulder & knee. It wasn’t my only treatment modality, but it was convenient, effective and relatively cheap.

For post-workout pain, a TENS unit is probably overkill. But, for those older trainees who have a few chronic aches and pains, a TENS unit might be worth it’s weight in gold.

Chiropractic / Acupuncture

I group these two treatment modalities together because my chiropractor is also an acupuncturist and soft-tissue therapist. I don’t get one without the other.

I go every two months and Sheldon works out the kinks that I have managed to create. When I over-do the chin-ups and my bad shoulder acts up a little, Sheldon breaks out the acupuncture needles, re-adjusts the bones and does a little (excruciating) muscle stripping.

45 minutes later and I am a new man.


Traumeel is a homeopathic anti-inflammatory.

And, according to researchers, it works better than NSAIDS at reducing chronic inflammatory conditions as well as systemic inflammation caused by exercise. Plus, you get none of the unpleasant side-effects associated with NSAIDS.


Well, there you go. There’s my list of Post Workout Recovery Techniques.

Feel free to comment if you think I have missed something or if you disagree with one of my choices.

Is There A Link Between Exercise and Arthritis?

knee pain jointAccording to a study being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, “Middle-aged men and women who engage in high levels of physical activity may be unknowingly causing damage to their knees and increasing their risk for osteoarthritis”.

“Our data suggest that people with higher physical activity levels may be at greater risk for developing knee abnormalities and, thus, at higher risk for developing osteoarthritis.”

And in case you didn’t know…Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain, swelling and stiffness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects approximately 10% of the American population.

The Study

The study involved 236 asymptomatic participants who had not reported previous knee pain – (136 women and 100 men, age 45 to 55, all within a healthy weight range.)

The participants were separated into low-, middle-, and high-activity groups based on their responses to the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) questionnaire. PASE is a standard test that scores an older individual’s physical activity level, based on the type of activity and the time spent doing it.

Then came the MRIs.

Radiologists scanned the knees of the test subjects and compared their findings to the levels of physical activity as determined by the PASE questionnaire.

Sadly, the MRI analysis indicated a relationship between physical activity levels and frequency and severity of knee damage.

tiger woods knee

The Details

Specific knee abnormalities identified included meniscal lesions, cartilage lesions, bone marrow edema and ligament lesions. Abnormalities were associated solely with activity levels and were not age or gender specific.


  • The prevalence of the knee abnormalities increased with the level of physical activity.
  • In addition, cartilage defects diagnosed in active people were more severe.
  • The findings also indicated that some activities carry a greater risk of knee damage over time.

“This study and previous studies by our group suggest that high-impact, weight-bearing physical activity, such as running and jumping, may be worse for cartilage health.”


“Conversely, low-impact activities, such as swimming and cycling, may protect diseased cartilage and prevent healthy cartilage from developing disease.”

Their Conclusion

The researchers concluded that there is a need for prospective studies to evaluate the influence of low-impact versus high-impact physical activity on disease progression.

My Conclusion(s)

  • Our bodies wear down with use. This should not come as a surprise to anyone 40+ years of age. Odds are there are lots of things that you can’t do that you could do in your teens or twenties. (see Viagra)
  • With age comes wisdom. Or at least it’s supposed to. As a kid, I never included a warm-up into my workout. Nothing hurt, so why would I warm-up? Today, if I skip the warm-up, things hurt.
  • Additionally, since I have become a slightly-older, slightly wiser version of myself, I have eliminated or modified the types of exercise that cause me pain – long distance running, 1 leg pistol squats, football, various weightlifting exercises, high intensity plyometric jumps, etc…

And with these modifications, I eliminated the nagging knee & shoulder pains that had begun to crop up.

My Other Conclusion(s)

  • No exercise is perfect for every person. Swimmers often suffer with shoulder pain. Cyclists often develop muscle imbalances due to their posture while cycling. Yoginis suffer joint injuries.
  • The body you have today is different from the body you had 20 years ago. Treat it as such.
  • Your body is different from my body. What works for me might not work as well for you.
  • Your body will tell you what is best for it. If your knees swell up after going for a long jog…maybe you shouldn’t go for a long jog. If your shoulders hurt after a set of overhead presses, maybe you should find a way to modify or replace that exercise.
  • There is a difference between high intensity exercises performed properly & high intensity exercises performed improperly.
  • Before giving up on “high intensity” exercises that require running & jumping, see if you can find a better way to do them. Try to modify before you eliminate.
  • Look at correcting postural imbalances that may lead to injuries
  • Consider purchasing rehabilitation equipment designed to prevent injuries

and most importantly, remember this…

You would rather visit an orthopedist than a cardiologist……so get off your butt and get some exercise.


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Exercise Better with Coffee

For decades, endurance athletes have relied on caffeine as a performance aid. They claimed that a pre-workout cup of coffee helped them to push themselves harder and for longer periods of time.

And along the way, science has backed up that belief:

  • In 1979, scientists found that caffeine helped cyclists improve their performance by 7% during a 2 hour workout.
  • In 1991, cyclists dosed with 9mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight were able to increase their endurance by 51%
  • In 1995, cyclists performing high intensity circuits were able to improve their endurance by 29% with a dose of 5.5mg of caffeine per kg of body mass.

Pretty good, right? The only problem is that no one really knew why caffeine improved athletic performance…until now.

Researcher (and cycling geek) Dr. Robert Motl has spent the last 7 years considering the relationship between physical activity and caffeine. Today, he has a much better understanding of why that cuppa Joe he used to consume before distance training and competing enhanced his cycling ability.

  • Early in his research, he became aware that “caffeine works on the adenosine neuromodulatory system in the brain and spinal cord, and this system is heavily involved in nociception and pain processing.”
  • Since Motl knew caffeine blocks adenosine from working, he speculated that it could reduce pain.
  • A number of studies by Dr. Motl support that conclusion, including investigations considering such variables as exercise intensity, dose of caffeine, anxiety sensitivity and gender.

The good doctors latest study “looks at the effects of caffeine on muscle pain during high-intensity exercise as a function of habitual caffeine use,” he said. “No one has examined that before”.

And what did they find?

  • Caffeine reduces pain during exercise.
  • Less pain means you can work harder.
  • Less pain means you can work longer.

The Science

The study’s 25 participants were fit, college-aged males divided into two distinct groups:

  1. Subjects whose everyday caffeine consumption was extremely low to non-existent,
  2. And those with an average caffeine intake of about 400 milligrams a day, the equivalent of three to four cups of coffee.

After testing their baseline aerobic fitness, Dr. Motl tortured his subjects with two monitored high-intensity, 30-minute exercise sessions.

  • An hour prior to each session, cyclists – who had been instructed not to consume caffeine during the prior 24-hour period – were given a pill.
  • On one occasion, it contained a dose of caffeine measuring 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (equivalent to two to three cups of coffee); the other time, they received a placebo.
  • During both exercise periods, subjects’ perceptions of quadriceps muscle pain was recorded at regular intervals, along with data on oxygen consumption, heart rate and work rate.

The Results

Obviously the most important result was that caffeine reduced the pain of intense physical activity. But Dr. Motl also found that when it came to the reduction of pain, “caffeine tolerance doesn’t matter”. Caffeine-junkies and the herbal tea drinkers received the same pain reducing benefit from their little caffeine pill.

So, what now?

Dr. Motl wants to see what effect caffeine’s pain-reducing abilities has on sport performance.

“We’ve shown that caffeine reduces pain reliably, consistently during cycling, across different intensities, across different people, different characteristics. But does that reduction in pain translate into an improvement in sport performance?”

Interesting question for sure, but I am way to impatient to wait for science to catch up to real life. If you’re like me, check out this list of caffeine based beverages and let’s get physical.


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Fibromyalgia: A New Test Leads To A Cause And Maybe A Cure

For years and years and years and years, people suffering with fibromyalgia have faced a battle on two fronts.

  1. They battle chronic pain and all of the associated physical, mental and emotional problems that come with chronic pain.
  2. They fight a public and medical perception that fibromyalgia is not a real medical condition. That the pain is all in their heads.

A new study, published in the November issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, may help fibromyalgia patients on both battle fronts.


The Study


Using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), researchers in France were able to detect functional abnormalities in certain regions in the brains of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, reinforcing the idea that symptoms of the disorder are related to a dysfunction in those parts of the brain where pain is processed.

“Fibromyalgia is frequently considered an ‘invisible syndrome’ since musculoskeletal imaging is negative,” said Eric Guedj, M.D., and lead author of the study. “Past imaging studies of patients with the syndrome, however, have shown above-normal cerebral blood flow (brain perfusion) in some areas of the brain and below-normal in other areas. After performing whole-brain scans on the participants, we used a statistical analysis to study the relationship between functional activity in even the smallest area of the brain and various parameters related to pain, disability and anxiety/depression.”

In the study, 20 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia and 10 healthy women as a control group responded to questionnaires to determine levels of pain, disability, anxiety and depression. SPECT was then performed, and positive and negative correlations were determined.


The Results


The researchers confirmed that patients with the syndrome exhibited brain perfusion abnormalities in comparison to the healthy subjects.

Further, these abnormalities were found to be directly correlated with the severity of the disease.

An increase in perfusion (hyperperfusion or excessive blood supply) was found in that region of the brain known to discriminate pain intensity, and a decrease (hypoperfusion or inadequate blood supply) was found within those areas thought to be involved in emotional responses to pain.




In the past, some researchers have thought that the pain reported by fibromyalgia patients was the result of depression rather than symptoms of a disorder. This study strongly refutes that belief.

According to the lead researcher, “Interestingly, we found that these functional abnormalities were independent of anxiety and depression status.”

This study also gives researchers a diagnostic tool to help predict a fibro patient’s response to a specific treatment and evaluate brain-processing recovery during follow-up.

“Fibromyalgia may be related to a global dysfunction of cerebral pain-processing,” Guedj added.

“This study demonstrates that these patients exhibit modifications of brain perfusion not found in healthy subjects and reinforces the idea that fibromyalgia is a ‘real disease/disorder.‘”


What This Means For Fibromyalgia Patients


This research does 3 important things for fibromyalgia patients:

  1. It gives legitimacy to their condition. No longer will family doctors, friends, family, employers, etc.. be able to tell fibro sufferers that their pain is not real, that it’s all in their heads.
  2. It gives researchers a tool to test treatment modalities.
  3. And now that they ‘know’ which areas of the brain are affected and how they are affected, they should be able to chart out a more direct route to a cure…or at least a treatment.


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Say Goodbye To Lower Back Pain with Band Training

An effective way to prevent lower back pain is to stretch and strengthen all of the muscles in the lower back and core region.

One of the best ways to accomplish both of these modalities is with band training.

Here are a couple of videos from Dick Hartzell, the founder of Jump Stretch.

Dick has been at this for years. His training methods may seem a little unorthodox at first. But that’s okay. because they work.


Lower Back Stretch & Strengthen


Lower back Traction


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Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

Exercise for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

A few years ago, I had the pleasure to work with a very nice lady who was trying desperately to reduce the painful effects of fibromyalgia. She had been suffering for years as a result of this painful and debilitating condition.

Like most chronic pain conditions, the worst thing may not even be the pain itself. It is the effect that the pain has on the rest of your life. In my client’s case, she had spent the first year of her daughter’s life in bed. Every day, for a year, unable to care for her baby girl.

When I met her, she was in much better shape. Her daughter was no longer a baby. She participated in her daughter’s life. She had a challenging career. She was happy. But she was still in constant pain.

She came to me after having quite a few bad experiences with different forms of physical and exercise therapy. At the time, I was working at a fitness club just north of Toronto. She was initially assigned to work with a young, female trainer. It didn’t go well. The young trainer had a solid knowledge of how to help people get lean, fit & healthy. Unfortunately, she knew little about fibromyalgia. During their first workout, she treated her client like a normal, PAIN FREE person. Bad move.

A week later, our fibromyalgia lady returned and demanded her money back. She had spent days in bed, popping pills and regretting ever coming into our gym. I don’t know how, but the owner of the club managed to calm her down and have her agree to sit down and talk with me.

At our first meeting, I had only a general knowledge of fibromyalgia and had never worked with a Fibro client.  I did, however, know how to talk, or rather listen to justifiably angry women. Yes, I am married. We discussed her condition. I gave her my opinion and told her that I would spend the next few days researching the subject in more depth and come back to her with a plan.

A few days later, we met and talked again. At that second meeting, we discussed my findings, clarified a few more issues and outlined what my plan for her fitness training would include. After about half an hour of chit-chat, we began our workout. It was very slow at the beginning. Very slow. In fact, it took us almost 3 months before I started to notice a ‘real’ change in her body.

After a further 3 months, she had training harder than some of my non-Fibro clients. More importantly, her day to day life improved drastically. Less pain. Stronger. Fitter. Healthier.

NOTE – For those of you out there who know someone like my former client, please show them the following research paper, along with my story and do what you have to do to get them moving. They will thank you for it. Not right away…right away they’re gonna hate you, but eventually, as they get better, they will thank you.

Group Exercise, Education, and Combination Self-management in Women With Fibromyalgia A Randomized Trial Daniel S. Rooks, ScD; Shiva Gautam, PhD; Matthew Romeling, BS; Martha L. Cross, BS; Diana Stratigakis, BA; Brittany Evans, BS; Don L. Goldenberg, MD; Maura D. Iversen, DPT, SD, MPH; Jeffrey N. Katz, MD, MS Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(20):2192-2200.

 Background Self-management has increasingly been recommended as part of standard care for fibromyalgia, a common, poorly understood condition with limited treatment options. Data that assess popular self-management recommendations are scarce. We evaluated and compared the effectiveness of 4 common self-management treatments on function, symptoms, and self-efficacy in women with fibromyalgia.

Methods A total of 207 women with confirmed fibromyalgia were recruited from September 16, 2002, through November 30,2004, and randomly assigned to 16 weeks of (1) aerobic and flexibility exercise (AE); (2) strength training, aerobic, and flexibility exercise (ST); (3) the Fibromyalgia Self-Help Course (FSHC);or (4) a combination of ST and FSHC (ST-FSHC). The primary outcomewas change in physical function from baseline to completion of the intervention. Secondary outcomes included social and emotional function, symptoms, and self-efficacy.

Results Improvements in the mean Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire score in the 4 groups were –12.7 for the ST-FSHC group,–8.2 for the AE group, –6.6 for the ST group, and–0.3 for the FSHC group. The ST-FSHC group demonstrated greater improvement than the FSHC group (mean difference, –12.4;95% confidence interval [CI], –23.1 to –1.7). TheST-FSHC (mean difference, 13.6; 95% CI, 2.3 to 24.9) and AE(mean difference, 13.1; 95% CI, 1.6 to 25.6) groups had similar improvements in physical function scores on the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Bodily pain scores on the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey improved in the ST-FSHC (14.8), AE (13.2), andST (5.7) groups. Social function, mental health, fatigue, depression,and self-efficacy also improved. The beneficial effect on physical function of exercise alone and in combination with education persisted at 6 months.

Conclusions Progressive walking, simple strength training movements, and stretching activities improve functional status,key symptoms, and self-efficacy in women with fibromyalgia actively being treated with medication. The benefits of exercise are enhanced when combined with targeted self-management education.Our findings suggest that appropriate exercise and patient education be included in the treatment of fibromyalgia.


  • Exercise is effective for fibromyalgia pain relief
  • Starting an exercise program WILL be painful for a Fibro client
  • Fibro clients should NOT be trained like every other client
  • Fibro clients need to be willing to push themselves
  • Fibro clients need to help their trainers understand how their body is responding to the workouts
  • Trainers need to be very, very sensitive to how their clients are responding
  • Fibro clients should expect this that fitness training might be very difficult at the beginning of their journey


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If You Want to Be Fit, Do Not Ignore Proper Body Alignment

In a previous post, The Components of Physical Fitness, I broke down physical fitness into it’s component parts and provided a brief introduction of each part.

In today’s post, I will investigate in further detail one of those components: Proper Body Alignment

As I said in the previous article, proper body alignment involves the relative position and interplay of your skeleton, skeletal muscles, ligaments, tendons & fasciaFor example, are your hamstrings too tight? Is your pelvis in proper alignment? Is the fascia covering your diaphram too tight?

If your body is out of alignment in one place, there will be adaptations elsewhere. Whether those adaptations will result in pain and injury depends on factors that are largely out of your control.

Luckily for us, if things do get out of alignment, it’s not too hard to find a good  physical therapist or an osteopath to help with analysis and/or re-balancing your out of balance body.

If seeing a specialist is out of your price range or you’re just a DIY kind of person, there are a lot of body alignment gurus willing to post a ton of free info online:

Each of these individuals have a unique approach to putting your body into balance. If it is possible to meet with one of them for an assessment, I would highly recommend it. If not, read some of their articles, decide which of their styles makes the most sense to you and apply ONE concept. Don’t try to do everything at once.

If you do decide to DIY, start by taking a few digital photos of your posture – standing & sitting, from the front, rear and both sides. Lift your arms overhead, squat, etc… You would be surprised how easy it is to see your own flaws in a photo.

Most likely, this is what you are going to see.

Side View:

  • Client exhibits classic exaggeration of the double S-curve posture.
  • Forward head posture and chin protraction are evident.
  • Rounded shoulders combined with an exaggerated kyphosis are apparent in the upper thoracic region.
  • Significant anterior pelvic tilt with a concomitant increase in lumbar lordosis is also evident in the lumbo-pelvic region.
  • Anterior weight bearing is difficult to determine due to the cropping of the photo, but still seems to be an issue of concern.

This all too common grouping of postural misalignment is depicted very nicely in the following image that I borrowed from  part 2 in Cressey & Robertsons’s Neanderthal No More series.

body alignment

While posture #1 is the ideal, #4 is all too common.

Primarily caused by hours of sitting and staring at television and computer screens, posture #4 has become all too familiar.

Think about it, an hour sitting in the car driving to work, sitting for most of your 8+ hours at work, driving back home and then finally dropping down onto the couch to watch some ‘must-see” tv. All this adds up to poor posture, misalignment, and eventually pain and disfunction.

Okay, enough doom & gloom.

This can all be corrected. Start with the links listed above. Take it slow. Your poor posture wasn’t created in a day and it won’t be corrected in a day.

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