Category Archives: Updates

Exercises At Home: 10 Ways to Use a Foam Roller

By Dr. Mercola

A foam roller is an inexpensive fitness tool that should be part of your home gym, for multiple reasons. As its name implies, a foam roller is a large “log” made out of foam that helps your body to warm up for exercise and recover afterward.

It takes very little space to store, is lightweight and inexpensive, yet it offers numerous benefits that can be difficult to achieve without it. Foam rollers, though, do degrade with time, which is why use I use the Trigger Point Performance Grid Roller that doesn’t deteriorate with time.

What Is a Foam Roller Good For?

Foam rollers are often used by therapists and athletes to mimic myofascial release treatments, which are typically used to help reduce muscle immobility and pain.

Its benefits are often compared to getting a massage, because as you roll on it, fibrous tissue is broken down and circulation is boosted, helping to relieve tension and pain. One of their greatest uses is for working out “knots” or trigger points in your muscles.

These may develop from stress, overuse, repetitive motions, movement imbalances, or injuries, and if you ignore them they’re likely to become increasingly tense and painful.

Even if you don’t have a specific knot present, foam rolling is still beneficial for reducing tension and relaxing your muscles. As explained by The American Council on Exercise (ACE):1

“Foam rolling is also called myofascial release and is designed to work out the ‘knots’ in your muscles. You could compare the practice to self-massage… As you might imagine, muscles and fascia do not literally tie themselves into knots.

However, the analogy isn’t too much of a stretch (no pun intended). Take an elastic band and tie a knot in the center and stretch the band. The elastic around the knot can stretch, but the knot itself will stay put and get tighter.

This will result in a ‘speed bump’ of sorts, affecting the shortening and lengthening of the affected area. This is not unlike the functionality of muscles. The area around the adhesion gets worked, but the area affected by the adhesion will not reap the same benefits.”

This is where foam rolling comes in, helping to release trigger points, increase blood flow, and improve tissue quality. When you perform various exercises with the roller, it also helps to engage your muscles and build strength. Plus, because the foam roller is unstable, using it works your core muscles and helps improve balance.

The Benefits of Foam Rolling Are Scientifically Backed

Sometimes the simplest activities offer the most profound fitness benefits (like push-ups and squats), and foam rolling is certainly a demonstration of this. But don’t let its simplicity fool you – foam rollers have scientifically proven benefits, including:

  • One study found that using a foam roller on your hamstrings may lead to statistically significant increases in range of motion after just five to 10 seconds2
  • Another study found that using a foam roller reduces arterial stiffness, which may indicate improved flexibility, and improves vascular endothelial function3
  • Older women who used foam rollers for balance training showed improvements in dynamic balance after just five weeks4

Many people wait to use a foam roller until they feel a tight spot in a muscle, then simply “roll” it out. While this can be effective, it’s a mistake to regard the foam roller as only an occasional fitness tool. You can actually use it daily (even if it’s for just a few minutes) to help prevent trouble spots in your muscles from occurring.

10 Ways to Use a Foam Roller at Home

My favorite foam-roller activity is to combine the Trigger Point Foam Roller with the Power Plate, which I do nearly every day. The vibration from the Power Plate synergizes powerfully with the Trigger Point Foam Roller because it has a hard plastic shell. A conventional foam roller would dampen the Power Plate vibration, not transfer it.

This combination can radically increase your range of motion and flexibility. I particularly like a padded plastic roller called the Trigger Point Performance Foam Roller, as this one doesn’t wear out over time and retains its shape to help you get the benefits.

There are many other techniques you can try out as well, of course. The Huffington Post recently shared 10 foam-roller exercises designed to target tight spots and help relieve pain, courtesy of Barry Duncan, owner and operator of Momentum Fitness:5

1. IT Band

“To get into position, put the roller under your hip and keep one leg on the floor as a support. Start at your hip and work the roller down to the knee by moving alongside it. If you find a tender spot, push down and hold or roll quickly back and forth over the tender spot. This will help loosen up the IT band.”

2. TFL or Hip Flexor

“This one includes the same instructions as the last one, but this time spread your legs outwards. Start at your hip and work down to the knee. If you find a tender spot, push down and hold or roll quickly back and forth over the tender spot. Similarly to the last exercise, this will help stretch out your hip flexors.”

3. Quadriceps

“Get in plank position and put the roller under your hip. Keep your hands on the floor and core tight. Start at your hip and work down to the knee in order to stretch your quadriceps from the front.”

4. Hamstring and Glutes

“Start by sitting on the foam roller, then roll your hips towards the ground. To increase pressure, keep your bum in the air.”

5. Calf

“Sit on the ground and start with the foam roller behind the knee and pull your knees up. As the image shows, lift the hips up and roll back and forth, keeping the legs straight.”

6. Ankle

“You might not think about stretching your ankles, but it’s a good idea. For people who get really tight on the sides of the ankle, start at the ankle bone and roll up to mid-calf.”

7. Latissimus (Back Muscles)

“Start at the armpit and roll down your side to the rib cage. This move will help you loosen up your back muscles.”

8. Low Back And Hip

“Start with your hips on the roller and shoulders on the floor. Rock back and forth. For a better workout, lift one leg in the air and rock back and forth or turn the roller vertically and go side to side.”

9. Upper Back

“This move can be a continuation of the last move, or you can start with your hips on the ground and the roller in the middle of your back. Lift the hips up and roll to the neck.”

10. Glutes

“For the glutes, start by sitting on the foam roller and bend both knees and roll your hips forward. For a targeted workout, go onto one glute.”

Using the Correct Pressure While Foam Rolling Is Crucial

Although the after-effects of using a foam roller are great – less pain and tension, more relaxed muscles – the actual foam rolling can be uncomfortable or even painful if you use the wrong amount of pressure. ACE explains:6

“…you can and should control the amount of pressure applied and steer clear of pain. Learning how to control the amount of pressure to a mild and tolerable discomfort is important. The objective of rolling is to help the area relax, and applying too much pressure can reflexively invite the opposite response. When introducing pressure to a sensitive area, you may experience a slight knee-jerk type reflex. But if you do not go in too hard, you should experience what feels like air being slowly let out of a tire.”

When using a foam roller you should apply enough pressure so that you feel some tension released, either with constant pressure or by making small movements back and forth. A mild amount of discomfort is expected but you shouldn’t be in pain.

If you’re new to foam rolling, start out gradually with lighter pressure and a shorter session. In time you can progress to more intense pressure. While foam rolling can be done both before and after a workout, pre-workout sessions should focus on problem areas whereas post-workout sessions can focus on all of the muscle groups worked that day. The benefits of this simple movement are quite impressive, but you won’t know until you try it out for yourself. As ACE noted:7

Foam rolling is one strategy that can help improve symmetry in the body. By taking a few minutes during each workout (and each day if necessary) to work out adhesions, you can help prepare for, and recover from, exercise more effectively. Tension can be released from the area, while blood flow and nutrients can increase, leading to healthier muscle tissue and a more effective fitness program.”

Exercise Helps Fight Depression and Here’s Why

News & Views

October 6, 2014 | By Rachel Swalin

Exercise—even something as simple as walking—has long been known to fight depression. Now Swedish researchers think they know why (and it has nothing to do with the feel-good endorphins you hear about all the time).

They made the discovery by studying genetically modified mice that are resistant to stress. So what’s stressful in the rodent world? Loud noises and flashing lights, according to a report in the Washington Post. And just as stressed out people can be prone to depression, normal mice exposed to noise and lights can get depressed, losing interest in food and becoming lethargic.

By studying mice that were immune to this stress-triggered depression, the researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that a protein called PGC-1alpha1 might be key. Made by active muscles, PGC-1alpha1 seems to help prevent a stress-related protein, known askynurenine, from crossing into the brain and causing depression, according to the study published in the journal Cell. The stress-resistant mice are apparently awash in PGC-1alpha1, which helps make them better able to handle the equivalent of a high-pressure job.

Although discovered in mice, the scientists also found PGC-1alpha1 is abundant in humans. They tested muscle biopsies of adult volunteers before and after three weeks of endurance training, and found the participants had much higher levels of the protein than when the study began, according to the New York Times.

“This study opens therapeutic avenues for the treatment of depression,” the authors concluded. In other words, it might be possible to find treatments that stimulate the protein in the muscles or blood rather than affecting the brain (like antidepressants do).

While new treatments are clearly a long way off (and more research is needed to confirm the findings), we now have a better understanding of how exercise might help prevent and treat depression. Most adults should do strength training twice a week plus 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If don’t already, get yourself in the habit of exercising now to keep your mind and body going strong.

How Alcohol Messes with Your Fitness Goals

Sep 26, 2014

By  Mirel Ketchiff

Hit the gym, hit the bottle? On the days you workout, you’re more likely to drink, suggests recent research in the journal Health Psychology.

In the study, researchers asked 150 adults to record their physical activity and alcohol consumption on their smartphones. They found that on days the participants exercised, they tended to drink more alcohol too.

How come? Researchers aren’t 100 percent certain as to why the correlation exists, but people might unconsciously use booze to reward themselves for exercising (you think: “But I went that extra mile, so I can have that extra drink!”), theorizes study author David E. Conroy, Ph.D. It also could be that as women, we tend to work out with friends, and then continue socializing over drinks post-spin session. Another possibility: You have a finite amount of willpower to not overdo it—and you may use that all up at the gym, which makes it difficult to resist temptation later, notes Conroy.

Here’s the thing: Moderate alcohol consumption—no more than one drink a day, according to the U.S.D.A. Dietary Guidelines for Americans—may have some health benefits, it’s true. But “work hard, play harder” can seriously backfire. Here, four ways throwing back cocktails can throw your fitness goals off track.

Cue Cramping
“Alcohol acts as a diuretic,” explains Sara Haas, R.D.N. L.D.N, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. All those extra trips to the ladies’ room can lead to dehydration, which can trigger painful muscle cramping that does a number on your performance.

Sleep Quality Suffers
A few glasses of wine before bed may help you drift off faster—but the zzz’s you log won’t be deeper, says Haas. “Alcohol can prevent restorative deep REM sleep, which is needed to feel rested.” Lack of sleep can impair muscle recovery, and even if you manage to drag yourself to the gym after a night of tossing and turning, your workout will suffer.

The Scale Could Tip
While there’s room in an otherwise balanced, healthy diet for a drink now and again, at the end of the day, alcohol translates into unnecessary, un-nutritious calories, says Haas. Add in the junk-food munchies you may down after a night of drinking, and you’ve got a surefire recipe for adding pounds.

Your Body Is Left Hungry
“When consumed excessively, alcohol can have detrimental effects on how your body uses, stores, and excretes nutrients,” says Haas. It can also interfere with the absorption of nutrients, she says, including B vitamins (which play a huge role in metabolism), vitamin A (a powerful antioxidant that helps the body recover from exercise), and vitamin C (which assists with bone growth and vision).

Fitness experts elevate walking to superstar status


Walking may never become as trendy as CrossFit, as sexy as mud runs or as ego-boosting as Ironman races, but for fitness experts who stress daily movement over workouts and an active lifestyle over weekends of warrior games, walking is a superstar.

For author and scientist Katy Bowman, walking is a biological imperative like eating. In her book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement, she suggests there are movement nutrients, just like dietary nutrients, that the body needs.

Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human,” said Bowman, a biomechanist based in Ventura, Calif. “It’s a lot easier to get movement than it is to get exercise.”

Researchers say emerging evidence suggests that combined physical activity and inactivity may be more important for chronic-disease risk than physical activity alone.

“Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but [are] sitting around the rest of the day,” Bowman said. “You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.”

Last year researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health asked 218 marathoners and half marathoners to report their training and sitting times. Median training time was 6.5 hours per week. Median total sitting time was eight to 10.75 hours per day, suggesting that recreational distance runners are simultaneously highly sedentary and highly active.

Leslie Sansone, creator of the Walk at Home: Mix & Match Walk Blasters DVD, said too many people believe that spending gruelling hours at the gym is the only way to fitness.

“There’s this Biggest Loser idea out there that if you’re not throwing up and crying, you’re not getting fit,” she said, referring to the popular television weight-loss show.

She added that a small study of non-obese men published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise by scientists at Indiana University suggests that three five-minute walks done throughout three hours of prolonged sitting reverses the harmful effects of prolonged sitting on arteries in the legs.

Five kilometres an hour is a good beginning, gradually working to 6.5 kilometres an hour, she said about walking.

Dr. Carol Ewing Garber, president of the American College of Sports Medicine, notes that fitness-walking guidelines of 10,000 steps a day may be too much for many.

“About 7,500 steps may be more accurate,” she said, adding that current ACSM recommendations call for at least 150 minutes of activity each week.

Garber, a professor of movement sciences at Columbia University in New York, said research suggests that even one bout of exercise causes beneficial physiological effects.

But she concedes that walking does not do everything. It is less beneficial for bones than running, and for strength it is better to lift weights.

“Still,” she said, “if you’re going to pick one thing, research says it should be walking.”

The New Rules Of Foam Rolling

By Matt Fitzgerald

Foam rolling has become a widely-practiced activity — and that’s a good thing. But according to Tier 4 Coach Susan Stanley, despite the growing legions of fans, there’s a need for mindfulness. It’s actually a more nuanced technique than one might think. Some fans warm up using techniques that are best saved for post-workout roll-outs (or avoided altogether); others neglect to mix up their approach and thus risk a foam-rolling plateau of sorts. Here are the four most common mistakes and Stanley’s tips to correct them.

1. Add some texture.
If the roller you’re currently using is pliant and has a smooth surface, you’ve got the wrong tool for the job. “The objective of pre-workout rolling is to stimulate nerve endings in the muscles in a way that sends a rich proprioceptive message to the brain,” says Stanley. The richer that message is, the better it will prepare your brain to control your body’s movements in the subsequent workout. Firmer rollers with a textured surface (such as the Trigger Point Grid) stimulate the nerve endings more effectively and reach deeper into the muscle’s myofascial layers than do the soft, smooth products most people use. These textured rollers also provide a superior post-workout roll.

2. Adjust your speed.
Slow movements are fine when you are using a roller to relax the muscles after a workout, but a faster, more vigorous technique is better in a warm-up. “Remember, you’re trying to wake up your neuromuscular system, not put it to sleep,” Stanley cautions.

3. Pivot and pin-and-stretch.
If you’re like most athletes, you move only in the direction of your muscle fibers. Stanley teaches clients to also roll across the “grain” — a technique known as cross-fiber friction — to add another dimension to that proprioceptive message to the brain. “Also,” says Stanley, “using different speeds and techniques like pivoting and pin-and-stretching the muscle and fascia can be much more effective than just rolling over the skin.” Although these methods are typically done with a ball, you can incorporate them into your rolling routine, as well. In the pin and stretch, you ‘pin’ the tissue on the roller, then move the limb to stretch the tissue that’s being pinned. Pivoting is a way to drive the roller a little deeper, engaging more layers of muscle and fascia, Stanley says. This is achieved by rocking (not rolling) the edge of the roller back and forth on the target spot, or twisting, like turning a faucet on and off, on that spot.

4. Save pain for later.
Admit it: When you roll, you look for painful spots in your muscles and sort of “hang out” on them, trying to get them to relax. But according to Stanley, it’s best to save this kind of therapeutic self-torture for post-workout rolling. “Pain causes the brain to respond with a protective reflex that reduces muscle performance,” Stanley explains. In other words: Less pain, more gain!


How many folks do you know who say they don’t want to drink anything before going to bed because they’ll have to get up during the night.
Heart Attack and Water – I never knew all of this ! Interesting…….
Something else I didn’t know … I asked my Doctor why people need to urinate so much at night time. Answer from my Cardiac Doctor – Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body when you are upright (legs swell). When you lie down and the lower body (legs and etc) seeks level with the kidneys, it is then that the kidneys remove the water because it is easier. This then ties in with the last statement!
I knew you need your minimum water to help flush the toxins out of your body, but this was news to me. Correct time to drink water…
Very Important. From A Cardiac Specialist!
Drinking water at a certain time maximizes its effectiveness on the body
2 glasses of water after waking up – helps activate internal organs
1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal – helps digestion
1 glass of water before taking a bath – helps lower blood pressure
1 glass of water before going to bed – avoids stroke or heart attack
I can also add to this… My Physician told me that water at bed time will also help prevent night time leg cramps. Your leg muscles are seeking hydration when they cramp and wake you up with a Charlie Horse.
Mayo Clinic Aspirin Dr. Virend Somers, is a Cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic, who is lead author of the report in the July 29, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Most heart attacks occur in the day, generally between 6 A.M. and noon. Having one during the night, when the heart should be most at rest, means that something unusual happened. Somers and his colleagues have been working for a decade to show that sleep apnea is to blame.
1. If you take an aspirin or a baby aspirin once a day, take it at night.
The reason: Aspirin has a 24-hour “half-life”; therefore, if most heart attacks happen in the wee hours of the morning, the Aspirin would be strongest in your system.
2. FYI, Aspirin lasts a really long time in your medicine chest, for years, (when it gets old, it smells like vinegar).
Please read on…
Something that we can do to help ourselves – nice to know. Bayer is making crystal aspirin to dissolve instantly on the tongue.
They work much faster than the tablets.
Why keep Aspirin by your bedside? It’s about Heart Attacks.
There are other symptoms of a heart attack, besides the pain on the left arm. One must also be aware of an intense pain on the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating; however, these symptoms may also occur less frequently.
Note: There may be NO pain in the chest during a heart attack.
The majority of people (about 60%) who had a heart attack during their sleep did not wake up. However, if it occurs, the chest pain may wake you up from your deep sleep.
If that happens, immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth and swallow them with a bit of water.
Afterwards: – Call 911. – Phone a neighbor or a family member who lives very close by.- Say “heart attack!” – Say that you have taken 2 Aspirins.
Take a seat on a chair or sofa near the front door, and wait for their arrival and …DO NOT LIE DOWN!

Running Just 5 Minutes a Day Can Help You Live Longer

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Runners may live an average three years longer than people who don’t run, according to new research.

But, the best news from this study is that it appears that you can reap this benefit even if you run at slow speeds for mere minutes every day, the 15-year study suggests.

“People may not need to run a lot to get health benefits,” said lead author Duck-chul Lee, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. “I hope this study can motivate more people to start running and to continue running as an attainable health goal.”

It’s not clear from the study whether the longer lifespan is directly caused by running. The researchers were only able to prove a strong link between running and living longer. There could be other reasons that runners live longer. It could be that healthy people are the ones who choose to run, noted the study’s authors. The investigators did try to control the data to account for such factors though.

Current U.S. guidelines for physical activity call for a minimum of 75 minutes per week of running or other vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

But people who exercised less than that still received significant health benefits, according to the new research.

Running modest amounts each week — less than 51 minutes, fewer than 6 miles, slower than 6 miles per hour, or only one to two times — was still associated with solid health benefits compared to no running, the researchers reported in the Aug. 5 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study also suggested that you can have too much of a good thing. People who regularly ran less than an hour per week reduced their risk of death just as much as runners who logged three hours or more weekly.

The study involved more than 55,000 adults aged 18 to 100, who were followed during a 15-year period to determine whether there is a relationship between running and longevity. About one quarter of this group were runners.

Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their running habits, and researchers kept track of those who died during the study period.

The researchers discovered that people who didn’t run had a life expectancy three years less than that of runners. Running was linked to a 30 percent lower risk of death from any cause and a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke, compared to no running.

Even less-avid runners received significant benefits. Running a minimum 30 minutes to 59 minutes each week — which equates to just 5 to 10 minutes a day — was associated with a 28 percent lower overall risk of death and a 58 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease, compared with no running.

“The mortality [death] benefits in runners were similar across running time, distance, frequency, amount and speed,” Lee said. The benefits held firm even after the researchers took into account for factors such as weight, smoking, drinking or health problems.

However, runners need to keep at it. Persistent runners — those who had been running regularly for an average of six years — had the greatest benefit, the study authors found.

Improved heart and lung function appears to be key to running’s health benefits, Lee said. Runners in the study had 30 percent better fitness than nonrunners, and their fitness increased with the amount of time they spent running.

Dr. Michael Scott Emery, co-chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council, found it “a little surprising that 5 or 10 minutes of running had such an impact on health.”

Emery, a cardiologist in Greenville, S.C., said, “This shows your biggest bang for the buck is just getting up and doing something, even if it doesn’t meet current guidelines. Even a little bit is better than zero.”

But, he noted that running does have more potential for injury than walking, including joint problems, ankle sprains, shin splints, back pain and muscle pulls.

People might gain similar benefits from walking the same distance for a longer period of time, he suggested.

“Running has more potential for injury, but walking takes longer,” Emery said. “You have to find your own mix, your balance.”

Lee agreed that people interested in running should start out slow and build up over time.

“Running is a vigorous-intensity activity, thus it is recommended that inactive people can start walking to reduce injury risk before they start running,” he said.