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The New Way to Resolve

NewYear2018 CPRAccording to Statistic Brain, 41% of Americans usually make New Year resolutions. However, after six months, less then half of those American’s have maintained their resolutions. While it’s good to make New Year resolutions, accomplishing those resolutions can be daunting and not completing them can be depressing. So how do you succeed at your resolutions to change your health this year? The secret is to change your habits. Whether you want to lose weight, start exercising, or train for a race, use these three tips to retrain your habits and produce lasting changes in your health.

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Joe ChiaramonteIn recent years there has been much discussion on training for our adolescent athletes and what is appropriate, whether it be how much, how soon, how specialized? While there are not many definitive answers to these specific inquiries, we, at the Academy of Sports & Wellness believe in a model that keeps the individual athlete’s well being and safety as the central emphasis.

Gone are the days of old (even 20 years ago) when kids rode their bikes around the neighborhood to their friend’s houses or to school. Gone are the days of climbing trees or playing on playgrounds with monkey bars and balance beams. It is rare that a simple game of “tag” pops up in the schoolyard anymore. We are quick to “roll out the balls” and practice baseball/basketball/football/soccer specific drills and games and the like instead of reinforcing basic human movement patterns. We have a generation of students that spend countless hours on their phones and computers, or gaming and watching TV. We have kids that can do amazing things with the soccer ball at their feet, but cannot skip or do a forward roll.

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Pain in the Neck? Think Dry Needling

Chris NawrockiI have the daily experience of working in outpatient physical therapy care of evaluating and treating many spine patients.  Having over 22 years of clinical care and pursuing advanced credentialing as a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a McKenzie Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment I think I have a pretty strong background in helping patients deal with their spinal pains.  Throughout my day I evaluate then educate and explain why the pain is limiting their life.  Hopefully we get the correct treatment structure in place to make their pains go away and resume getting back to normal life.  I have always felt empathy for those patients wreathing in obvious pain and my goal was always to encourage them to work through the pain and realize there will be better days ahead.  And then….May of 2016 hit me with a pain in my neck.  Literally.

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Anne Slater 4First, you should know that I am not what one would call a “weekend warrior.” It’s true that I have not been in my true peak physical condition since my days participating in high school sports. That said, I stay pretty active playing team sports in adult rec leagues; I play volleyball every chance I can get, I am always willing to jump into a pick-up game of ultimate Frisbee, or join a game of Spikeball at the beach.  I’m in what I call “volleyball shape.” I rarely run voluntarily. When I was asked to sub for a soccer league by a coworker, I was not trying to relive the glory days; I thought, here’s an opportunity to get some cardio and have fun at the same time.

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RS1966 shutterstock 189234521 Did you know that many foods can decrease or increase inflammation and help to decrease pain?  It is important to try and maintain a healthy diet, especially while healing after an injury or surgery.  Most people think they should cut back on calories since they are less active or are tempted to eat more unhealthy comfort foods while being stuck at home recovering, but this will not help speed up the recovery process.

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Early Intervention is the Key to Success

Ben EgglestonThe relationship between longevity of symptoms and healing time is of reciprocal proportion. The longer a person has symptoms, the longer it takes to relieve those symptoms. In my experience, this holds true most of the time. I’m not solely talking about musculoskeletal pain either.  I am talking about all pathologies.

            I was diagnosed with hypertension a few years ago. I was extremely fit and very conscious of diet at the time. That has changed slightly as I am a new father and attending school while working. Nonetheless, my doctor decided it was related to genetics, as most of my family is hypertensive. The point I want to make with this is that I could have continued with slightly elevated blood pressure for a while because I had no contributing factors other than genetics. Instead, with the guidance of my doctor, we decided to employ a very low dose chemical intervention. This decision was made because hypertension is a precursor to cardiovascular disease; even with slightly elevated blood pressure, especially if it is high for a very long time. I think I was 29 at the time and planned on living a long time as we all do. Because I sought early intervention, I have significantly reduced my risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Now I also must make sure I am maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to keep my blood pressure stable.

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Do you ever find yourself sitting in a slumped position while at work or driving in the car?  Most people tend to slouch after sitting a prolonged period of time due to having a weaker core or letting their back muscles relax instead of holding them up to have good posture. 

To prevent sitting with bad posture, try rolling up a large towel or lumbar roll and place it right behind your lumbar curvature. This can also help reduce some low back pain.  If you are sitting at a desk for long hours during the day it is also beneficial to make sure your computer is at a correct height for you.  A computer that is situated too high can make your shoulder muscles tighten up. 

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Inflammation and Your Diet (Part 1)

Throughout the day the body is constantly being bombarded with substances that can trigger inflammation.  Inflammation is not all bad, like when the body responds to an injury with swelling and blood clots to form a scab or to heal a bone.  But rather exposure to irritants like mold, pollen, chemicals, even foods that the body thinks is a threat to its’ health.  Autoimmune diseases or allergic reactions are thought to be linked to this concept. By repeatedly facing toxins, infection possibility, or trauma, it is almost like constantly being hit by strong waves at the shore of the ocean; it is never allowed to heal properly because the body cannot get back up on its feet again.  Sometimes immune cells start to perceive healthy tissue as unhealthy, here inflammation or in the former case, chronic inflammation is the result.  Hives, digestive issues, fatigue, headache, weight gain, mood swings, joint and nerve pain all can be linked to inflammation.

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What can we do to combat these ever looming potentials for disaster?  Build a Wall! No, well, sort of; maybe one to improve health.  By using food!  Think about it, food is mandatory to survive, something we need every day and something that is the easiest way to have an immediate and long term effect on how we feel.  It provides the fuel we need as well as the building blocks to create cells.  We are what we eat after all! 

Sometimes it is challenging to get everything we need to assist our anti inflammatory diet by food alone.  This is where a supplement may be helpful.  They come in many forms, can be added to foods like smoothies or simply taken in pill form.  In this article, I will be discussing five common vitamins that have been shown to have anti inflammatory properties and may be helpful in creating a more calm and happy body.

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Is Something is Better Than Nothing?

RS2273 shutterstock 263097353When it comes to strength training, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Most of us are aware of the benefits of strength training in areas like everyday physical function, bone rebuilding, self-confidence, fat reduction, and elevated metabolism. But did you know that strength training can also help prevent diabetes, enhance your cognitive ability, reduce blood pressure, reverse the aging process associated with muscular decline, and help balance your cholesterol levels?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends strength training exercises for all major muscle groups 2-3 times a week: upper body, lower body, core, chest, shoulders, and arms.

But let me be honest, I haven’t always practiced what I’ve preached about strength training. Running has consistently been a part of my life since high school, but it’s a struggle to maintain a regular strength routine. However, as I’ve dealt with knee, lower back, and hamstring injuries  in the past few years, I’ve learned that I need to incorporate some basic strength training if I want to continue to run.

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My Journey to the Olympic Trials

Betsy OlympicsThis July, I had the opportunity to compete in the US Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene , Oregon.  My event is the steeplechase, a 3000m (7.5 laps, 1.86 miles) race over barriers.  There are 35 barriers and one each lap has a water pit on the other side. For women the barriers are set to 30 inches.  Unlike hurdles that you may be used to seeing on the track, the barriers cross three lanes, are made of wood and don’t fall over if you hit them.  It adds another dimension to distance running.  I’ve heard people call it ‘terrifying,’ ‘difficult,’ and overall unappealing, but I call it fun.

 To qualify for the Trials in track, you have to run a qualifying time (under 9:53 for women’s steeplechase this year) within the year leading up to the race. I qualified in 2012 in the same event and decided then to make it back in 2016.

The experience, especially the build up to the race, taught me a lot about life and running. The beginning of my season didn’t go exactly as planned.  My first race was a good start, but my second race was poor.  My third attempt was interrupted by a thunderstorm.  The disappointment left me questioning my ability and purpose.

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