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For September 22, 2017

  • 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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  • Study Finds It's Harder For Women To Quit Smoking
    Study Finds It's Harder For Women To Quit Smoking

    December 20, 1999 The Medical Tribune

    New findings might help explain why women have a harder time quitting smoking than men. Apparently women tend to become more psychologically dependent on smoking.

    According to a study led by Thomas Eissenberg, of Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Psychology and Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, in Richmond, women find greater relief than men from withdrawal symptoms of smoking, including restlessness and difficulty concentrating.

    The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, looked at the subjective and physiological effects of smoking on a group of men and women who were experienced with tobacco products. Findings are reported in the December issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

    Physiologically, men and women experienced similar effects of smoking, including increased heart rate and blood pressure and a decrease in skin temperature. These effects are usually attributed to the nicotine in cigarettes.

    Subjectively, however, smoking had a more profound effect on women, and it may be harder for them to quit. After each of the two cigarettes that subjects smoked in the study, women reported that their desire to smoke was decreased compared with men, and their relief from withdrawal symptoms decreased significantly more than their male counterparts. This means that women may be getting more relief and feelings of satisfaction from smoking than men, which helps to explain why past studies have shown that women have more difficulty quitting smoking.

    The most common withdrawal symptoms that differed in ratings substantially between men and women were the desire to smoke, the urge to smoke, difficulty concentrating and restlessness.

    Eissenberg commented on the findings: ``It's a little-known fact that soon after smokers have had a cigarette, their reports' of various withdrawal symptoms will start to increase.'' Eissenberg reported that these effects are sometimes evident as soon as 10 or 15 minutes after smoking a cigarette.

    Another curious finding in the study was that compared to men, women take shorter, smaller puffs when smoking. There is no evidence, however, that this means female smokers receive less nicotine than their male counterparts.

    ``I'd certainly be able to entertain the hypothesis that women were receiving less nicotine, and that would mean that they have a lower level of physical effects as far as the response of the body to repeated administrations of the drug,'' said Eissenberg. ``But that doesn't mean that their psychological dependence is less. In fact, it may be more.''

    Eissenberg added: ``It seems to me and it's going to take more work that this study might be telling us that the response to nicotine is the same for men and women, but there are some other effects of smoking to which women are more sensitive.''

    Dr. Sheila B. Blume, clinical professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said she was ``delighted that the research is going on in this area. When I started in this field in 1962,'' she explained, ``we had no idea how addiction worked at all. But now, due to modern methods of neuroscience, it's understood that addictive substances share a final common pathway to the brain, probably to the part that nature put there or that evolved there to assure that we repeat the kinds of behaviors that keep us alive, such as finding food and water, and that give us a kind of pleasure.'' Substances such as nicotine stimulate this same area of the brain, said Blume.

    Eissenberg said that further study on the topic is needed. He added that he hopes to see enhancements of the popular nicotine replacement products, such as patches, gum, sprays and inhalers. Eissenberg emphasized that relapse prevention is another key area to address when researching the best ways to help people quit smoking.

    Blume, too, stressed the significance of quitting smoking and added that due to its obvious addictive effect, it should be done with medical or group support assistance: ``When women are ready to quit, they should get some help with it. Don't try it on your own.''

    Nicotine & Tobacco Research (1999;1: 317-324)

    Copyright 1999 Medical PressCorps News Service. All rights reserved.

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  • Making sense of food labels.
    Making sense of food labels.

    A typical supermarket offers about 20,000 different items. Food labels, now required by law on almost every food, can help you choose among the options available.

    The most significant part of the new food labels is a new heading that reads Nutrition Facts. That is followed by a list of the serving size of that particular food and the servings per container.

    The new labels have more consistent serving sizes that replace those that used to be set by manufacturers. There are mandatory and voluntary dietary components required on food labels. Mandatory data, per serving, listed in the order in which they must appear are: Total Calories, then Calories from fat.

    The next mandatory portion of the label provides information about nutrients that are most important to the health of today's consumers and includes:

    • Total Fat (in grams) (and a percentage)
    • Saturated fat (in grams) (and a percentage)
    • Cholesterol (in grams) (and a percentage)
    • Sodium (in grams) (and a percentage)
    • Total Carbohydrates (in grams) (and a percentage)
    • Dietary Fiber (in grams) (and a percentage)
    • Sugars (in grams) (and a percentage)
    • Protein (in grams) (and a percentage)

    • and
    • Vitamin A (in a percentage)
    • Vitamin C (in a percentage)
    • Calcium (in a percentage)
    • Iron (in a percentage)

    WARNING: Although this portion of the label is a significant improvement over the previous label which listed carbohydrate, protein, and fat in grams, it can still be misleading. One of the leading health promotion educators has a favorite saying that applies to food labels, "Labels don't lie, but liars write labels."

    For example, if a label lists 260 total calories and 120 calories per serving, but under that lists total fat (still in grams) followed by a percentage, most consumers believe that percentage is the percentage fat of the food. In fact, if you look closely, you will see that percentage value is nothing more than % of daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. These reference values are intended only to help consumers learn good diet basics. If you don't eat a 2,000 calorie diet, the information is of little use to you.

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  • Exercise As An Antidepressant
    Exercise As An Antidepressant

    Exercise is being touted as a viable component for treating depression, schizophrenia and alcohol addiction, according to a report published in the American Psychological Association.

    This is a review of studies going back to 1981, so it�s not new research. One thing that�s interesting is this review finds non-aerobic exercises such as weight lifting to be just as effective in treating psychological ailments as aerobics.

    The researchers say most regular exercises, including simply going for a 20-minute walk three times a week, is apparently more effective than placebo pills in reducing symptoms of anxiety in some patients.

    In my view, this study almost nailed it, but not quite. In my book, drawing on the best research, I contend exercise is a placebo. And while it makes you feel better, let�s not give it more curative power than it deserves.

    Just taking the time off to go exercise is something that can be psychologically good for you � because you�re taking a break from what�s bothering you.

    If you enjoy exercising, do it, and you�ll probably feel better. But this isn�t true if you hate it. The main point in my book, "Eat, Drink and Be Merry," is to embrace those activities that you have fun doing because, ultimately, they�ll be the most beneficial.

    Source: Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, June 1999.

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  • New Skinny on Weight Control
    New Skinny on Weight Control

    How much should you exercise to maintain your weight loss?

    Originally featured in:

    Shape

    After you lose weight, how much exercise do you need to keep it off?

    80 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (walking between 2.2 and 3.7 mph, playing softball, golf or table tennis) a day or 35 minutes of vigorous activity (jogging, active dancing, tennis) a day.

    That's according to researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin at Madison who followed 33 women, ages 20-50, for one year after they had lost at least 26 pounds.

    This amount of exercise -- the 80 minutes of moderate or 35 minutes of vigorous activity a day -- which the study found necessary for maintaining weight control is much higher than the half hour a day of moderate intensity activity generally recommended to promote health. The researchers suggest that, if you want to try it, the most practical approach is to alternate vigorous exercise one day, moderate the next.

    But don't take these numbers as gospel. "It's a good study," Says John Foreyt, Ph.D., a leading obesity researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "But it's one study. Many people are able to maintain their body weight with less exercise [than this]." While physical activity is a must to keep off weight, he says, those who maintain a weight loss often figure out for themselves how much they can eat and how long and hard they must exercise. It varies from person to person.

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  • Stretch longer for better flexibility
    Stretch longer for better flexibility

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- When it comes to working out, holding a stretch for 15 seconds appears to improve flexibility more than holding a stretch for just 5 seconds, results of a study suggest.

    The finding, from a study of 24 college students with an average age of 20, is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

    "Recommendations for duration of stretching in flexibility training programmes range from 5 to 60 seconds, yet justifications for these selections have largely been absent," report Jennifer M. Roberts and Karen Wilson, of the University of Sunderland, UK.

    In the study, the students were split into three groups and during a 5-week period participated in a program in which they stretched for 5 seconds, 15 seconds, or did no stretching at all. Those in the 5 second group performed each stretch nine times and those in the 15 second group did the stretches three times, so that both groups had a total stretch time of 45 seconds.

    Both groups showed improvements in passive range of motion -- the ability to stretch in response to an external force, such as a coach pushing on a limb. However, those who stretched for 15 seconds had a clear advantage over their peers when it came to increasing their active range of motion -- their ability to stretch their own muscles.

    "This study indicates that a 5-week active stretching programme significantly increases active and passive range of motion in the (leg)," the authors conclude. "Stretching for a duration of 15 seconds produces significantly greater improvement in active range of motion than stretching for 5 seconds."

    Source: British Journal of Sports Medicine 1999;33:259-263.

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