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For August 20, 2018

  • Ways to Protect Women's Knees
    Ways to Protect Women's Knees

    WASHINGTON (AP) - It took just one wrong jump, and women's basketball star Rebecca Lobo was on the floor in agony, yet another victim of a torn knee ligament called the ACL.

    The very day Lobo was writhing in pain last week, doctors were meeting to figure out how to battle a growing problem: Women are far more susceptible to this debilitating knee injury than men. It's not just a risk for professional female athletes, but for high school and college teams, and even women who like a little weekend skiing, soccer or hoops.

    Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are notorious because they're so painful and can require months of treatment and rehabilitation. But they also can predispose people to serious knee arthritis later in life, said Dr. Joan McGowan of the National Institutes of Health. The good news: There are some ways women can protect their knees, lowering the risk of injury by strengthening their hamstrings and learning to crouch properly while jumping, concluded a consensus conference sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

    Now doctors' quest is to alert women. "These injuries affect young people, and can affect the rest of their lives," said Dr. Letha Griffin, team physician at Georgia State University, who organized the meeting. "We really need to ... help the public know that there are injury prevention techniques." Her message: "If I'm doing jumping, pivoting, cutting sports, I really need to look into some of these prevention techniques."

    Inside the knee, two ligaments pass each other in the shape of a cross, connecting the upper and lower leg bones. The anterior cruciate ligament is the one in front, and it's important in pivoting. Many sports fans connect ACL injuries to football's crunching hits. But experts say most ACL tears actually are noncontact injuries - and studies show women suffer from them about five times more than men.

    ACL injuries are particularly common with lots of jumping, quick deceleration and pivoting, like in basketball, soccer and skiing. But recreational athletes who run, take boxing classes, even do step aerobics can suffer, too, said McGowan. Scientists are studying everything from hormones to anatomy to explain the gender discrepancy. But neuromuscular factors seem to play the biggest role, and that's where women can lower the risk, Griffin said.

    Hamstrings, muscles behind the thigh, relieve stress on the ACL when the knee bends. If your hamstrings are too weak, they may not protect the ACL. Men's hamstrings typically are 60 to 70 percent as strong as their quadriceps, muscles in front of the thigh. Women athletes may have strong quads, but they typically have significantly weaker hamstrings, said Dr. Thomas Lindenfeld of the Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research and Education Foundation. So as they jump and pivot, the hamstrings don't do their job and the ACL tears. In addition, women jump and land differently than men - more straight-legged and flat-footed. Men bend their knees more as they jump and land, a built-in shock absorption.

    The Cincinnati foundation created a program called Sportsmetrics to strengthen hamstrings and train female athletes to jump with their knees properly bent and body correctly aligned so they don't land off-balance. In a study of 1,200 high school athletes, the six-week program lowered girls' injury risk to equal boys' risk, Lindenfeld said. The foundation now sells a video that demonstrates the program, and dozens of high school and college teams already are adopting the techniques.

    Also, many ski shops carry pamphlets describing Vermont research on avoiding ACL injuries. Scientists videotaped ski accidents to show positions where skiers got so off-balance that the stress tore an ACL. Teaching skiers about those risky positions and how to regain balance on the slopes can reduce injuries, Griffin said. This focus on injuries shouldn't scare off women - exercise is key to good health and American women don't exercise enough, stressed McGowan, who led a related NIH meeting last week on women and sports.

    But learning to prevent injuries in professional athletes could translate to a more fit general population, she said. It's important to know "this is the kind of thing amenable to training."

    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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  • Dan Wirth - Lower Back Pain and the Standing Military Press
    Dan Wirth - Lower Back Pain and the Standing Military Press

    Dan wrote this advice in response to a Fitrex member's question. It has been edited for use as an article.

    The problem of having lower back pain or stress while lifting weights, particularly with exercises such as the standing military press, can be fairly common. This is generally caused by hyperextending or "over-arching" your back when you are pressing the weight overhead. Actually, this particular lift (standing military press) was used in Olympic weight lifting competitions in the 1950's. The competitors would arch or lean back so far that their torso's were almost parallel to the ground!!! You can imagine the back stress those poor guys felt.

    Ideally, you would want to perform this free weight exercise in a standing position. Why do I say ideally you may ask? This is because the standing position allows your body to benefit by enhancing balance, coordination, and stabalization as well as the synergistic involvement of the smaller muscle groups surrounding the shoulder joint. However, you should not do this lift if it hurts! Here are four things to do:

    • First Thing: Perform the exercise seated or switch to dumbbell military presses. The dumbbells can help keep the weight in a better plane of movement (positioned above your center of mass). With a barbell you have to move the weight around your head and if you don't have the proper flexibility in your shoulders you will compensate with movement in your back. Or, use a machine shoulder press instead, and start implementing these next three things!
    • Second Thing: Use perfect technique. Look at the videos and read the extensive explanations on the exercises in your program. Watch yourself in the mirror when you perform these exercises. This will help keep you in the right "groove"
    • Third Thing: Lower the weight. More weight is not always better. It might be more fun, but it magnifies any smaller problems! :-) I have found that for many people simply lowering the weight is all it takes to be able to perform the exercises correctly and without pain. And, the best thing about it is many of the free weight exercises are very positive to do even with no weight, just an empty bar or a broomstick, etc. Then it's simple, as your body gets stronger, you can slowly increase the weights and still keep perfect technique so that injury and pain are a thing of the past.
    • Fourth Thing: Continue to work on your abdominal and lower back strength. If you are relatively new to free weight training, you are probably lacking in the areas of balance, coordination and stabilization that I mentioned earlier. You may also have some flexibility problems in your shoulders. All of my programs have exercises for your abs and for your back muscles. And you can check out a ton of flexibility exercises and videos.

    It just takes a little time and consistent training but your body will develop and you will be able to perform more of the advanced exercises without pain.

    Always Stay Positive!

    Dan Wirth M.A., C.S.C.S.
    Fitness Director (Fitrex.com)
    Director of Strength and Conditioning
    The University of Arizona
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  • Osteoporosis.
    Osteoporosis.

    Bone is a dynamic tissue. It breaks down and re-builds itself constantly. As we age, the re-building process falls behind the breaking down process, resulting in weak, porous bones that are more prone to breaking.

    Osteoporosis is a condition, not a disease, in which the calcium content of the bone has depleted sufficiently enough over time that the bones become brittle, porous and are likely to fracture from even minimal trauma. There are no symptoms of osteoporosis until a fracture occurs, indicating the condition is in the advanced stages with little likelihood of successful treatment.

    More than 20 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis--a condition most of us believe is "for women only." In fact, twenty percent of the people who fall victim to this often debilitating condition are men. Their bone loss typically begins in their mid to late 40's and increases to a 10% loss by the age of 75. If it continues, this bone loss is classified as osteoporosis.

    Many health specialists believe about half of bone loss is determined by lifestyle factors. Whether you are a man or woman there are useful steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis. This includes drinking 2 to 3 servings of calcium containing milk products or supplementing the diet with 800 to 1000 milligrams of calcium, drinking alcohol in moderation, abstaining from tobacco use, and participating in weight-bearing exercise on a regular basis.

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  • Fat Loss in a Bottle
    Fat Loss in a Bottle

    Here are some nutritional supplements on the market that can help your weight-loss process along.

    Originally featured in: Men's Fitness May, 1999

    It may sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, but thermogenesis could be the secret to losing your love handles.

    Literally meaning "the creation of heat," it involves cranking up the calorie- and fat-burning processes in your body. While exercise and diet are the keys, many of us are genetically limited as to how much fat we can burn.

    This is where modern science comes to the rescue: There are nutritional supplements on the market that can help the process along. The products discussed below won't work without a sound weight program and plenty of cardio, but they might be worth a try.

    Citrus aurantium

    This fruit, also called "bitter orange," contains a naturally occurring fat-burner called synephrine. Citrus aurantium can increase your body's ability to burn fat and may exert a mild hunger-suppressant effect. It has only recently been introduced in supplement form and should be widely available toward the end of the year.

    "Citrus aurantium is the ideal fat-loss aid for guys who have plateaued in their workout programs," says Douglas Kalman, RD, director of clinical research at Peak Wellness, a Greenwich, Connecticut´┐Żbased health-care facility. The latest study performed at Peak Wellness on citrus aurantium showed no signs of potential side effects. Stay tuned.

    7-keto DHEA

    You've probably heard of DHEA, a hormone-replacement therapy that some guys use to gain muscle mass and lose body fat. Unfortunately, DHEA is not very effective in guys under 35, and it's associated with some nasty side effects, including prostate enlargement, acne and premature baldness.

    Earlier this year, an altered version of DHEA was introduced. It's called 7-keto DHEA, and research indicates that it works by preventing your metabolic rate from dropping when you're on a calorie-restrictive diet.

    Kalman believes 7-keto holds great promise. "When individuals diet to lose body fat, their progress stops after a period of a few weeks," he says. "This version of DHEA can prevent this without the hormone-like side effects."

    Caffeine and ephedra

    These two controversial stimulants are thermogenic on their own but have an even greater effect on fat loss when combined. They are added to several ready-made drinks or pills found in health-food stores, sometimes referred to by their respective herbal names, guarana and ma huang.

    The problem, again, is side effects. Overuse of caffeine and ephedra has been associated with increased heart rate, insomnia, nervousness and even death. "Scientific studies have shown that [the combination] works, but I'm not crazy about the potential for side effects," Kalman says. If you're on antidepressant medication, ephedra is not an option.

    Pyruvate

    A recent study demonstrated that as little as 6 grams of pyruvate per day can enhance fat loss and increase muscle mass in guys who exercise regularly and follow a reasonably low-fat diet.

    "I like this one because it basically has no side effects, it's all natural, and data shows pyruvate can not only effect fat loss, but can make you exercise harder and longer," says Kalman.

    Yohimbine

    Yohimbine is a natural substance derived from the bark of two African trees. It is a potent vasodilator that first became popular because it increases the blood supply to the penis. In fact, yohimbine was the pre-Viagra impotence treatment for millions of men around the world.

    Yohimbine also increases levels of norepinephrine, which has a marked effect on fat utilization by the body. However, it may cause stimulatory-type reactions such as dizziness, irritability, headaches, anxiety and increased heart rate.

    "The side effects are pretty common," says Kalman. "Also, it can have negative interactions with antidepressant medications." If yohimbine strikes your fancy, stick to the prescription brand Yocon, or make sure over-the-counter varieties declare that they are standardized for yohimbine activity. Ask your doctor before trying it.

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  • Can This Herb Reduce Aging?
    Can This Herb Reduce Aging?

    Does Ginkgo Biloba Reverse Aging?

    (From MSN Health by WebMD, October 18 1999)

    Question: I read in an article that ginkgo biloba reverses aging. Is this true?

    Answer: Ginkgo biloba is an herb that has received acclaim as a memory enhancer and anti-aging product. It's now among the ten most popular dietary supplements sold in the United States.

    The Ginkgo Biloba Tree, also referred to as the Maidenhair Tree

    Although it has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for lung disorders, ginkgo extract has more recently been used in Europe and North America against the symptoms of aging. It is believed to stimulate circulation and oxygen flow to the brain, which can improve problem-solving and enhance memory.

    Effects of ginkgo

    • May increase blood flow in cerebrovascular disease
    • May improve poor circulation in the limbs
    • Improves memory and alertness
    • Improves communication, orientation and mobility
    • Improves symptoms of vertigo and tinnitus

    In a group of older people with mobility problems, ginkgo improved pain-free walking distance by as much as 30 percent. Long-term ginkgo use appears to reduce cardiovascular risks. It has also been shown to improve the cognitive function of Alzheimer's Disease patients.

    Differences in the production, labeling and marketing of this extract make it essential that consumers scrutinize the products they buy in order to maximize positive benefits while minimizing risks.

    Before purchasing a product, you should inspect the label. Manufacturers are now required to label their products with nutritional labeling that lists ingredients in descending order. Look for information on the label that indicates that a standardized extract of 24 percent ginkgo flavonglycosides and 6 percent terpenes has been used to prepare the product. The flavonoids are antioxidants. Both flavonoids and terpenes are believed to help protect brain function. Because herbal medicines are made from crude extracts of plants, look to see if there is any indication that the manufacturing process has removed any pesticides that may have been used in the plant cultivation. In addition, the product should have an expiration date.

    Don't expect to feel it right away. It may be several weeks before any effect will be noticeable. Many people also believe that it's a good idea to give the body a rest periodically by taking some time off from using the extract, for example, by taking one month off after six months of use.

    It is also important to be aware that herbal medicines can have drug interactions with other herbal preparations you may be taking, or with other over the counter or prescription medicines. For this reason, you should consult with your physician or pharmacist before taking any herbal preparation. For example, ginkgo diminishes the blood's ability to clot. It should definitely not be taken with anticoagulants such as coumadin or aspirin. With very large doses, side effects of ginkgo can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, irritability and restlessness.

    The American Botanical Council has recently published the Complete German Commission E Monographs, which describe the potential therapeutic applications of a variety of herbal medicines.

    Copyright 1999 WebMD, Inc.

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  • New Diet Drug Is No Cure-All
    New Diet Drug Is No Cure-All

    (Medical Tribune, July 30 1999) - Recent information in the news has suggested that a new medicine has been approved that lets you eat all the fat you want and still lose weight!

    Orlistat, sold under the brand name Xenical, acts in the intestinal tract to stop the gut from absorbing part of dietary fat. Like other diet drugs, it must be used along with changes in eating habits and physical activity. It has been used in Sweden as a "reminder" to teach people to limit dietary fat ´┐Ż if fat consumption goes too high, a person gets a stomach ache and diarrhea.

    While studies have shown that the medicine can promote weight loss of 5 to 10 percent, a commitment to re-learning how to make good food choices is vital, or weight will be regained. Besides, fat consumption is not the whole problem. Americans have decreased fat consumption, yet obesity has increased because calorie consumption from other sources has increased and physical activity levels remain low.

    People who turn to food for emotional reasons will continue to do so despite this medicine until the basic misuse of food is treated. In blocking fat absorption, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and beta-carotene are also impaired, so it is important to take a multivitamin with beta-carotene each day at least two hours away from the medication.

    So the lesson is, don't rely on a wonder drug to lose weight. Stick to the basic principles of eating right and exercising and you will have much greater success!

    Source: American Institute for Cancer Research.

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