Archive for June, 2011

How Tiger Woods Can Get Back on the Course

Golfer Tiger Woods has vowed to return to playing competitive golf, but announced this week he plans to take a break until his surgically repaired, sprained knee and aching Achilles tendon have healed completely.

At the PGA tour’s AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, PA, Tiger told the media: “It’s up to (the doctors) and obviously my body and how it recovers.

We’re trying to push it every day and challenge my leg and see how it responds.

If it gets better, then we move progressively a bit further.

And if it doesn’t, we either stay there or take a step back.

That’s how rehab goes.

It’s been arduous.”

What kind of rehab is Tiger doing?

No one knows for sure with the notoriously secretive Woods.

But if you had the same injuries, here’s what doctors would likely have you doing.

Tiger reportedly has a sprain in the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Rehabilitation for this injury entails using a stationary bicycle and doing leg extensions and curls.

Ride a stationary bicycle for 20 minutes a day with the seat high to minimize range of motion in the knee.

Don’t put any drag on the bike; you’re simply interested in moving the knee.

Gradually lower the seat to increase the bend in your knee until you reach your full range of motion.

Do leg extensions while seated at a bench or a table.

Once you lift the weight, hold at full extension for 3 seconds and then very slowly lower your leg.

Concentrate on the slow movement down, which helps build strength.

Do 5 sets of 10 leg extensions.

Start with no weight and gradually add weight (5 pounds for men, 2.5 pounds for women) until you reach the amount of weight necessary for you to fail during the last set.

Do leg curls while lying on your stomach.

Again, do 5 sets of 10 lifts.

If you use a weight machine, hold for 3 seconds with the leg bent for further strengthening.

The leg exercises are designed to strengthen the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh (leg extension) and the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh (leg curls).

These are the muscles that control the knee and must be strengthened.

Tiger also reportedly has Achilles tendinitis.

The treatment for this injury is to rest until it feels better.

Then ice the tendon several times a day and take anti-inflammatory agents to relieve swelling and pain.

You can stretch the Achilles tendon with Wall Push-ups.

Place one foot as far away from a wall as you can and still keep your rear heel flat on the ground and the other leg a few inches from the wall.

Bending your elbows, lean into the wall and support yourself with your hands but don’t let your rear heel come off the ground.

Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds and push back up.

Tiger says he’s not going to push it and try to return too soon from his injuries.

That’s good advice for amateurs and pros alike.

Some Surprising Causes of Male Infertility

A number of lifestyle factors play a role in a man’s fertility.

About 25% of the time, a man could have avoided infertility by being more aware of lifestyle choices that can harm sperm, says male fertility expert Marc Goldstein, MD, in a new article in the Wall Street Journal about the surprising causes of male infertility.

The article highlights certain lifestyle factors, specifically an adolescent groin injury, cigarette smoking, heavy drinking, intense cycling, and even using a laptop directly on the lap.

In A Baby at Last!, Dr. Goldstein and co-author Zev Rosenwaks, MD, fertility experts at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical College, provide a list of lifestyle factors that can impair a man’s fertility.

These include:

–smoking cigarettes

–heavy drinking

–stress

–excessive weight

–exposure to heat

–recreational drug use

–sexually transmitted diseases

–genital infections that lead to sperm busters called antisperm antibodies

–drugs to improve sexual performance

–health kicks such as too-strenuous exercise

On Dr. Goldstein’s Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine website, he describes “10 Tips to a Fertile Lifestyle” that provide guidelines on how a man can maintain his fertility.

In their book, the two fertility doctors suggest what a man and a woman can do to “upgrade” their fertility.

Their take-home messages for men are:

• To optimize your chances of producing viable sperm, live a fertile lifestyle: don’t smoke, limit your drinking, minimize stress, be physically active, maintain a healthy weight, eat lots of fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables, take fertility-enhancing vitamins, and avoid recreational drugs.

• Protect yourself from damage from sexually transmitted diseases.

• If you take prescription medications regularly or you need cancer therapy, talk with your doctor about strategies to preserve your sperm.

• Reduce your exposure to environmental hazards.

• If you are a man, avoid activities that raise the temperature of your testicles, ask your doctor for help with erectile problems, and don’t take hair-growth pills.

Adopting these healthy lifestyle habits, and avoiding negative habits, will help preserve your fertility and increase your chances of fathering a child.

Tai Chi Added to Exercise Guidelines

Practice Tai Chi 2 or 3 days a week and engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and you’ll be getting as much exercise as you need.

That’s the new recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) on how much exercise is actually enough for an adult.

For the first time, the ACSM has added in neuromotor exercises, sometimes called functional fitness, to its guidelines.

The guidelines state:

“Multifaceted physical activities such as tai ji (tai chi), qigong, and yoga involve varying combinations of neuromotor exercise, resistance exercise, and flexibility exercise.

Neuromotor exercise training is beneficial as part of a comprehensive exercise program for older persons, especially to improve balance, agility, muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.

They provide proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.”

Based on the results of clinical studies, the new guidelines suggest 20-30 minutes per day of neuromotor training for 2 to 3 days per week for all adults.

In addition to outlining basic recommendations and their scientific reasoning, the ACSM position stand also clarifies these new points:

* Pedometers, step-counting devices used to measure physical activity, are not an accurate measure of exercise quality and should not be used as the sole measure of physical activity.

Interpretation: Step counting is fine, but adding up your total minutes of aerobic activity is better.

* Though exercise protects against heart disease, it is still possible for active adults to develop heart problems.

Interpretation: Everyone should know the warning signs of heart disease, and if you recognize them, see your doctor.

* Sedentary behavior – sitting for long periods of time – is distinct from physical activity and has been shown to be a health risk in itself.

Interpretation: Don’t be a couch potato, which would be hard to do if you follow the full exercise recommendations.

The full recommendations include:

— 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (5 days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (3 days per week)

— Resistance exercise to train each major muscle group 2 or 3 days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment

— Flexibility exercises at least 2 or 3 days each week to improve range of motion.

— Tai Chi, qigong, or yoga for 2 or 3 days each week for functional fitness.

A Night with Ronny Turiaf for Heart-to-Heart Foundation

A life-threatening heart condition nearly ended Ronny Turiaf’s professional career before it began.

His health scare and successful open-heart surgery inspired the New York Knicks center to become a passionate advocate for heart-health awareness.

Tonight, his Heart-to-Heart Foundation is holding its first-ever fundraiser at The Lincoln Center in Spokane, WA.

“A Night with Ronny Turiaf” is designed to raise funds for the Ronny Turiaf Heart to Heart Foundation, which provides health services, such as heart surgeries, EKGs, and ECHO cardiac screenings and defibrillators to children and schools in need.

The foundation was established in August 2009 to provide medical care for children who do not have health insurance and cannot afford the care that they so desperately need.

When I interviewed Ronny for a cover story for Heart Insight magazine, he told me he established the foundation because “I told myself that if I was financially stable enough, I would do whatever I could to help others.”

Ronny is truly a good guy with a big heart.

He continues to raise awareness about life-threatening heart conditions, and to fund prevention, detection, and treatment for those in need.

If you can’t make it to the fundraiser to hear Cedric “The Entertainer” roast Ronny, you can still make a donation to help his cause, as I have done.

A Cold Beer For Your Health!

A votre sante!

A toast to the health of all fathers looking forward to a cold beer on a hot day this Sunday.

Beer can be beneficial to the heart, kidneys, and bones, says Ethan A. Bergman, PhD, RD, CD, FADA, American Dietetic Association President-Elect.

“A cold beer is the perfect way to relax at the end of the day, it tastes great, and in moderation, it can even be good for you,” he says.

Here’s how your favorite beer can enhance your health:

–Studies show one or two drinks a day can reduce your chances of heart disease by increasing levels of so-called “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

The barley in beer also contains a type of fiber that lowers cholesterol levels.

And beer is a good source of B vitamins, including B6 and B12, which lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage arteries and encourage blood clots.

–Beer, compared to other alcoholic drinks, is more likely to lower your risk of kidney stones, probably due to its high water content.

The hops found in beer may also slow the release of calcium, and high calcium levels may lead to kidney stones.

–One or two beers a day can make your bones stronger.

The silicon in beer may be the key element that increases bone density.

So as you celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, consider you’re doing your body a favor.

One or two beers a day is a healthful way to celebrate.

Just don’t try get in a week’s worth of health all in one day.

Tai Chi Helps Clear “Chemo Brain”

Many cancer patients suffer memory lapses, poor concentration, and a “spaced out” feeling long after they have received chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Apparently Tai Chi can help alleviate the effects of this so-called “chemo brain.”

In a pilot study, 23 women with mild to moderate cognitive impairment a year or more after chemotherapy treatments took a 60-minute Tai Chi class twice a week for 10 weeks.

The women were tested on memory, language, attention, stress, mood, and fatigue before and after the 10-week sessions.

The results indicate the women made significant improvements in their psychological health and cognitive abilities.

In other words, they had sharper thinking.

“Scientists have known for years that Tai Chi positively impacts physical and emotional health, but this small study also uncovered evidence that it might help cognitive functioning as well,” said Stephanie Reid-Arndt, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Health Psychology in the School of Health Professions at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“We know this activity can help people with their quality of life in general, and with this new study, we are encouraged about how Tai Chi could also help those who have received chemotherapy.”

Dr. Reid-Arnt notes that Tai Chi combines exercise, learning, and mindfulness, all of which have been shown in previous research to improve cognitive abilities.

Tai chi students learn intricate routines and mind-body skills that emphasize breathing awareness, active relaxation, and slow movements, which are well suited for cancer survivors who have physical impairments.

The study, published online in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, is the first to measure cognitive abilities in former chemotherapy patients in relation to a specific exercise program.

“Tai Chi really helps individuals focus their attention, and this study also demonstrates how good Tai Chi could be for anyone, whether or not they have undergone treatment for cancer,” Reid-Arndt says.

“Due to the small size of this study, we really need to test a larger group of individuals to gain a better understanding of the specific benefits of this activity for patients who have been treated with chemotherapy and how significant these improvements might be.”

Medical Qigong and Yoga Improve Cancer Patients’ Quality of Life

I just returned from the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, where 30,000 doctors around the world gathered to discuss new cancer research.

I found 2 new randomized studies showing the effects of medical qigong and yoga on the quality of life of cancer patients.

It’s well known that cancer patients often experience diminished cognitive function and quality of life due to side effects of their treatment and disease symptoms.

Australian researchers led a randomized study to evaluate the effects of medical qigong, which is a combination of gentle exercise and meditation, similar to Tai Chi warm-up exercises, on cognitive function and quality of life in cancer patients.

One group of 37 cancer patients participated in qigong for 10 weeks while another group of 40 cancer patients received usual care (the control group).

The qigong group reported they felt their cognitive function and abilities and their quality of life had improved, compared to reports from the controls.

The second study examined the effects of yoga on buffering changes in quality of life in women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy.

The breast cancer patients were randomized to either do yoga (53 women) or stretching (56 women) 3 times a week for 6 weeks during radiation therapy, or to a waitlist (54 women).

After the radiation therapy ended, both the yoga and stretching groups said they felt less fatigue, while the waitlist group said they were more tired.

Six months after radiation therapy, the stretching group said they felt improvements in fatigue and physical functioning.

Those who did yoga said they felt less fatigue, that their quality of life was better, and they definitely felt a benefit from the yoga practice during therapy.

The research team led by those at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, said “this is the first yoga study to include an active control group, suggesting that the benefits of yoga are due to more than simple stretching, social support, or other indirect effects.”

Certainly not a cure for cancer, qigong and yoga both appear to improve the quality of life of people as they go through cancer treatments, and even better, afterward as well.

Playing Surface Matters in Golf Injuries

Although golf is not considered a strenuous sport, about one-third of recreational golfers sustain an injury each year.

And about two-thirds of golfers over age 50 suffer some type of golf injury.

Sports medicine doctors know that golfers who return to action after a long layoff are at high risk of an injury.

Overstretching a joint or muscle may result in a sprain or muscle pull, causing many miserable Mondays after that first weekend back to golf.

Topping the list of golfer’s injuries are the back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee.

To prevent back injuries, strengthen the abdominal muscles with crunches (bent-knee sit-ups).

Shoulder raises with light dumbbells help prevent shoulder problems.

Squeezing a small rubber ball with each hand strengthens the forearms and helps protect the elbows and wrists from damage.

For the knees, strengthen the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh (leg extensions) and the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh (leg curls).

New research presented on June 2 at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting and the 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine suggests that golfers recovering from or prone to injury should limit playing or practicing on natural grass.

Andrea Fradkin, PhD, an associate professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA, says “certain parts of the body may be subjected to greater forces on natural grass, increasing the potential for injury or re-injury.”

If you’re coming back to the links after an injury, first head to the driving range to hit balls off the mat easily a few times to get your muscles used to swinging again.

At home, develop a daily stretching routine.

Spending just a little time stretching regularly will give you an edge over your golfing buddies and consistently shave a few strokes off your scores.

It also helps insulate you from a further injury.

Golfers should concentrate on stretching the trunk, shoulders, and hamstring and calf muscles.

For the trunk, place a club behind your head, rotate and hold for 20 seconds, then turn back and hold again for 20 seconds.

For the shoulders, stretch one arm across your body and hold for 20 seconds, then repeat with the other arm.

For the hamstring and calf muscles, do toe touches for 20 seconds at a time.

Once you have recovered from an injury, before you play warm up, stretch, then hit a bucket of balls on the driving range, progressing from short irons to longer clubs.

After you play, go through your stretching program.

One good stretch in each area will prevent soreness the next day.

Online Tool Tracks Exercise-Induced Asthma

If you run into breathing problems when you exercise, you may have what sports medicine doctors call exercise-induced asthma.

Asthma attacks usually result from exposure to environmental factors, but they may be induced by exercise.

Mild symptoms can be managed by reducing the intensity of exercise or with the help of an inhaler.

To prevent an attack, take a slow, prolonged warm-up and a longer, but slightly less vigorous aerobic activity period.

An inhaler can be used before exercise, if necessary.

If you are participating in an organized sport or activity, let the coach or instructor know of your condition.

Also make sure someone knows the location of your inhaler and whom to call in case of an emergency.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) has developed a new, free, easy-to-use online tool to help track your asthma symptoms.

Whether you’re training for the Olympics or simply trying to stay in shape, you can get access to detailed reports and statistics that will help you and your allergist best manage your condition.

With MyEIBJournal.org you can keep a daily log of exercise, symptoms, and medication use and create personalized, detailed reports and statistics that can be printed and shared with your allergist.

The tool is also accessible through mobile devices.

Most people with asthma have exercise-induced asthma, but it’s also possible to have exercise-induced asthma and not have asthma.

An allergist can diagnose and treat both conditions, and treatment will depend on how serious symptoms are and whether you have exercise-induced asthma with or without asthma.

Athletes with exercise-induced asthma can exercise safely by using the same bronchodilating drugs prescribed for asthma of other origins.

The ACAAI kicked off its annual Nationwide Asthma Screening Program in May.

This public service campaign, which is designed to identify adults and children who are at risk for undiagnosed or uncontrolled asthma, continues throughout the year.

The Case for the Only Child

Dedicated to all those parents who have had or may have to answer the question “When are you having another child?” the new book A Case for the Only Child has some great answers.

Social psychologist and multiple book author Susan Newman, PhD, has written the essential guide to parents of only one child.

The book debunks many myths, taking into account the changes in today’s nuclear family, including 2-family incomes, fertility issues such as women who have children into their 40s, and the economic reality of raising children.

“Most of us have been brainwashed into believing that children must have siblings, that the perfect family is comprised of mom, dad, and two children–the traditional family,” says Newman, who writes the Singleton blog for Psychology Today.

“Family is now exceedingly diverse with one-child emerging as the fastest growing family unit.”

Among the reasons for the increase in one-child families has to do with starting families later, the stress of needing to work, infertility, divorce, and single parents not waiting for Mr. Right.

Some of the myths Newman debunks:

Myth: Mothers of one are happiest
Second and third children don’t increase a father’s happiness and have a negative effect on a mother’s contentment.

Myth: Children affect a woman’s employment
The wage penalty for being a mother is 5% per child.

Myth: An only child fares poorly in the future without parents and siblings to lean on.
As singletons get older they become increasingly self-reliant because they have to be.

The Case for the Only Child is chock-full of facts and statistics to show the reasons for the rapid rise in singletons.

It shows the reader how to deal with pressure from friends, relatives, and strangers to have a second child, and relates how it feels to be an only child through personal stories.

All told, this is a fascinating book that can help you decide for yourself how to best plan your family and raise a single child.