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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: July, 2013

POSTED: Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Profiles | Running | Working Out

Editor’s note: Various “Couch to 5K” programs have gained popularity across the nation, promising they can get “just about anyone” to literally move from sitting on the couch all day to running a 5K in a 9-week span. Starting today, we’ll chronicle the journey of one local woman looking to accomplish the feat.

Sandi Owen doesn’t look like the most likely candidate for a Couch-to-5K program. For one thing, she barely has time to sit on the couch.

Owen, 32, of Spring City, Pa. is a single mother to two daughters and a son who she describes as “active in just about everything.” Over the past year, Sandi dropped about 45 pounds out of a desire to be more involved and active with her kids.    

POSTED: Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 5:00 AM

A strong and well-aligned spine is key to improving performance with sports, recreation, work and home activities. A repeating theme that keeps arising in discussing injury prevention is the need to balance muscle strength and flexibility in all planes (anterior, posterior and sides).

Most athletes are quite strong with trunk flexing muscles, like the rectus abdominus (‘6-pack’ ab muscles) but lack trunk extensor strength. The trunk extensors keep the spine erect when upright and lift the trunk upwards when positioned face down. Similarly, there are a many common exercises focusing on the big, powerful trunk muscles, but there is a lack of knowledge about how to effectively strengthen the smaller stabilizing muscles of the trunk.

Our bodies are equipped with a group of muscles that surround our trunk and work perfectly together to create a stable bracing effect for the spine. This is what prevents discs from bulging out of place and painful spinal conditions. One of the most important stabilizing muscles, the transversus abdominus (TA), is engaged when you activate the lower abdomen wall by "drawing-in." 

Not to be confused with the diaphragm, which controls breathing or the rectus abdominus, which flexes the trunk forward, the TA serves to act like a girdle for the abdomen. In standing, it contracts along with the main posterior spine stabilizer, the multifidis for a bracing action all the way around. This co-contraction is the basis for a stabilization program that can be made more challenging by adding numerous arm, leg, and trunk positions either statically or dynamically and with the use of equipment including physioballs, medicine balls, body blade, Bosu, Pilates, TRX, etc.

It is equally important to strengthen these muscles while maintaining correct spinal posturing. Whether seated or standing, a neutral spine is key. The natural curve of the low back, the lordosis, needs to be maintained by tilting the pelvis slightly forward. In sitting, you will know it is in the correct position when you feel weight through the "sitz" bones, the ischial tuberosities and all of the spinal segments stack naturally from bottom, up.

POSTED: Thursday, July 25, 2013, 9:21 AM
Kinesiotape was very popular at the 2012 London Olympics.

(Editor’s note: This is part two of an article on the true effects of sports performance products. To read Part One, click here.)


We’ve all seen it on athletes ranging from beach volleyball to the NFL. It comes in all sorts of colors such as pink, blue, and red. But what does it really do? One major company claims that its “texture and elasticity are very close to living human tissue” and therefore can help to re-educate the neuromuscular system, reduce pain, optimize performance, prevent injury, and promote improved circulation and healing. Does the tape really do what it claims or is it just placebo? 

POSTED: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 5:35 AM
Filed Under: Heather Moore | Working Out

Away from a gym on vacation? Never had much interest in joining a big box club? Work and home constraints making it impossible to get to a gym?  In all reality, you do not need a gym or equipment to get an incredible workout while getting your core and all the areas that you want to work on in shape. 

Most people waste their time at the gym doing multiple reps of small muscle groups. If you put 10 exercises together you could have a full body workout with better results than most formal gym programs. Looking for a little cardio? Then add one minute of jumping jacks or one minute of jump rope in between each exercise for the most effective way to get in shape and burn calories.

  1. Plank – Get into the push up position and either hold it or drop down to your elbows. Hold this for 1 minute three times.
  2. Side plank – Lay on either side. Push up on your elbow and your forearm so that your midsection is not touching the ground. Hold 1 minute three times. Repeat on the other side.
  3. Reverse plank – lie on your back, push up on your heels and your hands. Hold for 1 minute three times.
  4. Push-ups – Either from your knees or your feet. Make sure to go all the way to the floor.
  5. Lunges – Take a large step so that one foot is in front of the other. Putting the weight in the front foot in the heel, bend the knee so that the back knee almost touches the ground. Perform 30 times.
  6. Squats – Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Turn your toes out slightly. Putting the weight in your heels sit back like you are sitting in a chair. Go down as far as you can and then come back up. Perform 30 times. 
  7. Mountain climbers – Starting in the push-up position, quickly bring one knee up to the chest, then kick that leg back out while bringing the other knee up to the chest. Perform 1 minute sets for 3 times.
  8. Burpees or squat thrusts – Start in the standing position. Crouch down to the floor and place your palms flat on the floor. Kick your legs straight out into a push-up position then bring them back into the crouch position. Then jump up so you are back to the starting position. Repeat 30 times. 
  9. Bridging – Lie on your back with both knees bent up and your feet flat on the floor. Pushing through the heels push your butt off the floor as high as you can. Lower it back down slowly until it is almost touching the floor then lift up again. Repeat this 30 times. 
  10. Cross over push-ups – Start in the push-up position. Beginning with your right hand, touch your left shoulder then place it down. Then touch your right shoulder with your left hand. Repeat this 30 times on each side.

These exercises are guaranteed to increase your core strength and combined with proper diet, they can be an excellent jump start to lose weight. Any athlete involved in sports should be able to perform all of these for the prescribed amount of time without difficulty in order to be proficient in his/her sport. As always, make sure you consult your doctor or health care professional before beginning an exercise routine.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 5:45 AM

Listen, folks, I see no shame in admitting the truth—I love the KoolAid. I took my first sip four years ago during a late night workout in NYC with a motley crew that have become the CrossFit kings of Queens (and the entire Northeast, actually), and I've been mainlining it ever since. My functional fitness journey led me to membership at CrossFit gyms in Boston and Washington DC, and finally to a career in fitness, competition, and coaching here in Philadelphia.

I was fortunate when I started; the sport (or brand, it is after all, both) was thrown at me by a dear friend and long-time CrossFit coach, who promised me that I would love it. I did. I immediately found the closest CrossFit box to my house (at that time, there were only two CrossFit gyms in Boston), which happened to be an extremely well-respected gym with an educated, talented, and nurturing coaching staff. I didn't seek that out, though—I had no idea what to look for, all I knew was that I wanted more.  

This is the position in which many new-to-the-game, would-be-CrossFitters find themselves. They see it on ESPN, maybe they try out a WOD or two from the "Main Site," or their friends from work do it and they want to try it. So what's an athlete, desperate for that KoolAid, to do? As a point of reference, at the end of July 2009, there were approximately 1,350 CrossFit Affiliates worldwide, according to a CrossFit Journal article bearing the same date. At present, there are around 6,100 (according to the CrossFit Affiliate Map). Which one should you pick?

POSTED: Friday, July 19, 2013, 5:00 AM
Filed Under: Children, Teens | Joel H. Fish

One of the recent trends in youth sports is that children are specializing in one sport, as opposed to participating in a variety of sports, at a younger age. For example, in the ‘70’s, ‘80’s, and ‘90’s it was common for a boy or girl to play soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball/softball in the spring. Now starting as early as 8 years old, there are more boys and girls playing the same sport all year round.

Is specializing a good trend in youth sports or not? In researching this question for my book, 101 Ways To Be A Terrific Sports Parent, I found that the answer is that a parent can’t paint every child with the same brush. For some children, playing one sport 24/7 is not enough. The child loves and thrives on playing the sport as much as possible. For other children, though, specializing in a sport at a young age increases the chances of sport burnout. As one 12-year old who plays soccer all year round recently said to me, “Soccer is starting to feel like a job for me.” 

From a sport psychology point of view, the key point is not whether the child is physically capable of playing one sport all year round, but is the child emotionally ready to do so? Is the child mature enough to handle the extra stress and pressure all year round. If on a travel or elite team, is the child psychologically prepared for the expectations that come from being on an elite team? Is the child socially ready to be part of a more intense sports team? In my opinion, unless the child is both physically and emotionally ready to specialize in one sport, the disadvantages can outweigh the advantages.

POSTED: Thursday, July 18, 2013, 5:30 AM

As a physical therapist, one of the most common things I see are injuries that occurred months ago or pain that started weeks ago, but was ignored and brushed aside until it started limiting every day activities.  Shin splints are one of those injuries that if a few things were done at home, the severity could have been lessened or they could have been eliminated all together. 

Shin splints or pain in the front of the leg comes on in runners, cyclists, soccer players; anyone who participates in recreational activities can be subject to shin splints. Shin splints are known as medial tibial stress syndrome or MTSS.  It is often described as pain in the front of the shin. As it progresses the pain will get more intense making activities such as running and even walking painful and unbearable. There are a few things that you can do when you start to feel the pain that will help or eliminate it.

  • Ice— People underestimate the importance of ice. When you feel that pain in your shins, the first thing to do is to put ice on it. Usually 10-15 minutes a day.
  • Kinesio taping—When I go to races I see people mummified in this stuff. The nice thing about kinesio taping is that if you apply it wrong you cannot hurt yourself. However, a couple carefully placed pieces of tape can do wonders. You do not need to cover yourself in this. And it does not matter what brand you prefer. Kinesio tape is meant to be worn all day, you can shower with it, play sports with it, and it should not limit your activity in any way. Placing two strips as shown in the video can also help reduce the pain of shin splints. 
  • Stretching and foam rolling—Making sure that you stretch your calf after running or that you foam roll the front of your shins will also help eliminate the pain. Foam rolling the side of the leg and the calves will also help with pain affecting the front of the shins. 
  • Strengthening—If you are starting to develop pain in your shins this is indicative of a muscle imbalance through your hips and core. Getting on a good strength program that focuses on your abdominals and your hips will help eliminate the pressure on that area. 
  • Changing your footwear—Making sure that you have correctly fitting sneakers will help reduce the stress placed on the shins.

Shin splints are usually indicative of other problems going on such as weakness and trigger points in the other muscles and should be looked at by a health care practitioner. Make sure you consult your health care professional to make sure that you have made an appropriate diagnosis. However, performing these few simple steps at home can make or break the difference between running and not running.  

POSTED: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 5:30 AM
(via )

Every athlete wants an edge. What’s the newest thing out there that will help me run faster, recover quicker, and play longer? How do I know which claims are fact and which are fiction? Let’s take a look and see what the research says.

Compression garments

2XU, Skins, CEP, CW-X, 110%....They’re everywhere. Running stores, basketball players’ elbows, and even on athletes during plane flights. They feel good. To some they look cool. But are they really doing anything? The claims: reduced muscle fatigue, reduced exercise induced muscle damage (EIMD), accelerated recovery processes, faster lactic acid removal, increased strength and power, improved endurance, etc. Let’s look at the two main reasons for wearing them: sports performance and sports recovery.


A 2013 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology stated that “none of the blood or physical markers of recovery indicates any benefit of wearing compression garments post-exercise. However, muscle soreness and perceived recovery indicators suggest a psychological benefit may exist.” The majority of research articles support this saying any benefit from a physiological standpoint is trivial but the perceived benefit may be significant. Anyone who has worked with professional athletes knows that it’s as much mental as it is physical. If they think something is helping then they’ll play better and in the end that’s really what matters. So the rest of us have to decide if a $100 pair of recovery tights is worth the placebo effect.


About this blog

Whether you are a weekend warrior, an aging baby boomer, a student athlete or just someone who wants to stay active, this blog is for you. Read about our growing list of expert contributors here.

Robert Senior Sports Doc blog Editor
Alfred Atanda, Jr., M.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Robert Cabry, M.D. Drexel Sports Medicine, Team physician - U.S. Figure Skating, Assoc. Team Physician - Drexel
Brian Cammarota, MEd, ATC, CSCS, CES Symetrix Sports Performance, athletic trainer at OAA Orthopaedics
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician for the Phillies & St. Joe's
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician - Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon - Flyers
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director - The Center For Sport Psychology, Sports Psychology Consultant - 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Rothman Institute, Team Physician - USA Wrestling, Consultant - Philadelphia Phillies
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer at The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Cassie Haynes, JD, MPH Co-Founder, Trap Door Athletics, CrossFit LI Certified
Eugene Hong, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP Team Physician - Drexel, Philadelphia University, Saint Joe’s, & U.S. National Women’s Lacrosse
Jim McCrossin, ATC Flyers and Phantoms
Kevin Miller Fitness Coach, Philadelphia Union
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales, Pa.
David Rubenstein, M.D. Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center, Team Orthopedist - Philadelphia 76ers
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute, Athletic Trainer - US Soccer Federation
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