Our coaches, trainers and gym teachers have long instructed us to touch our toes before we touch the court. Most of us almost intuitively stretch before working out, running, or exercising. But what does stretching really do? Does it increase flexibility? Enhance performance? Prevent injury? Turns out, too much stretching may be a bad thing. It all depends on how much you move while you’re stretching.
All stretches involve postures that move your body to its outer limits of motion. Stretches are classified as dynamic or static, depending on whether you are moving – like doing high knees – or standing still – like doing long quad stretches. We often think of those long, static stretches as the standard – you elongate a muscle group and then maintain that elongation for 30 seconds or so. But stretching dynamically, while you move, is gaining popularity because it engages the muscles in a similar way to the workout itself. When you do a dynamic stretch, you propel your muscle through its maximum range of motion, and you stay in motion. Dynamic stretching prepares your muscles for the kind of performance they must give during your workout, and it warms you up at the same time.
New evidence suggests that static stretching, in particular, may be a warm-up tradition based in superstition. A University of Nevada, Las Vegas study found that static stretching tends to weaken the muscles involved in a workout, thus decreasing strength and ultimately performance over time. This appears to be caused by the neuromuscular inhibitory response that takes place in muscles with static stretching. Long stretches make a muscle less responsive to brain signals, which effectively weakens the muscle just as it’s about to perform. But don’t roll away the yoga mat just yet. Static stretching has other proven benefits like increasing flexibility, decreasing elevated blood flow and even restoring calm. Many experts believe that static stretching should play a key role in a cool down after the workout is through, but almost everyone agrees on the benefits of dynamic stretching before a workout.
Studies show that dynamic stretching causes no neuromuscular inhibitory response, it increases flexibility over time, and it helps to prevent injury. Stretching the muscles in ways that mimic a workout is a great way to reduce the likelihood of ligament and muscle tears. So next time you hit the gym, trade your static stretches for dynamic stretches so you can have a safer and more effective workout.
Osteoarthritis, being a debilitating and painful disease, can turn athletes into couch potatoes. We all understand that exercise is important to stay healthy and live longer, but it’s tough for those with osteoarthritis to do the bare minimum of exercise. The catch 22 of osteoarthritis is that exercise is an important way to reduce pain in the joints and prevent the pain from getting worse in the future. EverydayHealth.com showcases a few low impact exercises that allow patients with osteoarthritis to maintain their health and keep their joint pain from worsening:
1. Tai Chi
While movement with osteoarthritis can be arduous, it actually can be a great way to relieve pain when done right. Some of the keys to look for in a good approach to exercise is a focus on low impact movement and, not surprisingly, fun. In a recent piece for EverydayHealth, I discuss how activities such as tai chi and water aerobics can improve your quality of life. By both strengthening your body and alleviating stress, these 5 activities can make life both more comfortable and enjoyable. Give them a try!
Chronic pain has the ability to strip individuals of their productivity, happiness, and well-being. ABC News wrote this great piece about Tiiu Leek and her pain in the workplace, describing how women feel more pain than men do. The article references a relatively new study from The Journal of Pain that showed women generally feel more pain than men. However, this study wasn’t thorough since it didn’t account for confounding factors such as emotional effects or an additional painful disease. Women tend to be better at analyzing and describing their pain to doctors which give the illusion they feel more pain. As a culture, men are expected to complain about pain less as well as talk about their emotions. One’s mental well-being has a huge effect on physical pain, thus conclusive studies are hard to produce. Nevertheless, the findings reflect what I see as a chronic pain specialist. Here is a telling excerpt from the ABC News article:
Meyer saw 13 doctors before she got a proper diagnosis and the majority were men. “It’s very uncomfortable for them to see real emotion: ‘Tell me the facts, m’am, just the facts.’ I see them tune out.”
Now, she consciously spares the doctor the emotional talk. “I can literally be in so much pain I am crying when the staff is in there, but I pull it together when the doctor is in the room and have no tears at all. And it’s not easy to have to do that.”
She said doctors need to listen more to their female patients – “feelings are a part of the equation … Patients shouldn’t have to shut things down.”
Both Meyer and Leek sit on the leadership circle at For Grace, an advocacy organization that educates, supports and empowers women in pain through annual conferences and legislative outreach.
For Grace’s “Fail First” bill recently got through the California State Assembly’s appropriations committee on a 12-5 vote. If signed by the governor, it will allow women in pain much better access to pain medications, bypassing insurance companies.
As for Leek, she has seen marked improvement in her pelvic pain thought exercise and homeopathic approaches. She also tries to surround herself with positive people.
“My career was lost, but not my optimism,” she said. “I continue to live well. I once read that if you can get through your 60s unscathed, you can have a pretty good life.”
Read this article on ABCnews.com
KTVU's John Fowler interviews Dr. Moshe Lewis on the negative aspects of normal stretching. What kind of stretches lead to less injuries and allow you to perform 11% better? Watch to find out.
Podcast Interview length: 51 minutes
Yoga Journal estimates that Americans spend over $5 billion a year on yoga classes and products. And this should come as no surprise – yoga is credited with lifting moods, revitalizing sex and reducing stress. But a recent New York Times Magazine article focused on how yoga can also cause serious injury. We discuss the safe practice of yoga.
Interview length: 56 minutes — Interview date: November 21st, 2011
In this interview with Dr. Michael A. Lenoir on KPFA Radio's About Health, we touched on acute vs. chronic pain, Michael Jackson and dietary considerations. We answered many listener questions regarding increased sensitivity to pain, acupuncture, avoiding surgery, chiropractors, arthritis, the stress caused by pain, and more.
Creating a weight loss lifestyle in 2012 doesn’t have to seem like an insurmountable goal. Break down your goals into smaller, more attainable pieces that will have you creating healthy eating habits, rather than shedding pounds using crash dieting methods that won’t last.
Weight loss is an excellent resolution to have in spite of how difficult it may seem. Although there are many diets and fads that come and go, even a 10-pound weight loss can improve your health and your risk for diseases associated with obesity, like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
This article was written by Dr. Moshe Lewis and was featured on You Cant Outsource Weight Loss
“Boomeritis” refers to injuries to older amateur athletes from the baby boomer generation. In this Mind Your Body episode, I interviewed Dr. Moshe Lewis, a California pain management and rehabilitation specialist who most often treats baby boomers with back and knee pain—as the body ages, wear and tear happen. To counter aging, he recommends the triple threat of 1) heat to increase blood flow 2) ice for its natural anti-inflammatory powers and 3) activities in water to maintain buoyancy and offset gravity.
Are you a well-intentioned “weekend warrior?” Great! You’re receiving benefits that boost mood, reduce stress, increase muscle and cardiovascular health and provide social stimulation. Sporting on weekends only, however, increases the risk of a muscle strain, ligament tear or joint injury. To keep problems at bay, Dr. Lewis recommends that you…
Maybe I’ll see you on the bike path behind my house, running barefoot down at the beach, or at yoga. Just remember, your efforts at staying fit mean you’re winning that war.
Article written by MindYourBody.tv
Many students, celebrities, soldiers, and even company owners are turning to meditation to help them with their daily activities. ABC News has written a great article on the benefits of meditation. The article even includes tips and opinions on meditation from the Dalai Lama himself.
A quiet explosion of new research indicating that meditation can physically change the brain in astonishing ways has started to push into mainstream.
Several studies suggest that these changes through meditation can make you happier, less stressed – even nicer to other people. It can help you control your eating habits and even reduce chronic pain, all the while without taking prescription medication.
Read on ABC News: Re-Wiring Your Brain for Happiness: Research Shows How Meditation Can Physically Change the Brain
More reading: Meditation 101: Tips for Beginners
USAweekend.com recently released an article title “Important tips to manage your chronic pain: 4 sure-fire strategies for feeling better”. The article includes important information on how to practice mindful meditation, supplements, and how to accept your pain (in order to move forward in life). It’s a great read:
Move a little everydayChronic pain can be debilitating, all-consuming and even frustrating — especially when you’ve taken every test and tried every medication and you still hurt. You start to think maybe it’s all in your head (it’s not) and there’s nothing else you can do (not true). Research shows the best way to control chronic pain is to tackle it from all fronts; in fact, a published review found that comprehensive pain programs — ones that address biological, psychological and social aspects of pain — are most effective at improving quality of life. For many conditions, medications help; to better manage pain, try these strategies, too
Read the rest of this article on USAweekend.com/
Gymnastics is one of those sports that encompass agility, balance, precision and strength all in one. Although injuries are prevalent in all sports, gymnasts should take extra caution because any little injury that has gone untreated may turn into a chronic problem later in life.
|Written By Dr. Moshe Lewis|
My colleague and friend Dr Perry is offering is stress reduction classes again at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. It's an intensive 8-week course that helps people cope with physical and mental stress, and to reduce suffering from the conditions arising from stress. Read his statement below:
I am again offering a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class at Rainbow Medical in Palo Alto.
Curious? Maybe interested? Come to a free introductory class at my office on Saturday morning, February 5, 2011 from 9:30 until noon.
The class will begin the following Saturday, February 12, 2011, and will meet for 8 Saturdays from 9:30 until noon until April 9, 2011 (no class on March 12, 2011). The fee of $300 includes all materials (2 CD’s and a book).
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. developed MBSR in the 1980’s as a way to introduce the mindfulness concept, practices designed to cultivate mindfulness, and applications of mindfulness in reducing suffering. In his 1994 book, Wherever You Go There You Are, he gave a simple definition: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Since then, the teaching of MBSR has spread world wide, and hundreds if not thousands of research reports have revealed the power of these practices in relieving the suffering of those of us with all kinds of stress, including in particular chronic pain, anxiety, depression, autoimmune diseases, etc. Does anyone out there not have stress?
After studying with Renee Burgard, MFT and Bob Stahl, Ph.D., I began offering MBSR classes in my office several years ago. Our classes have been small, and the participants have been enthusiastic in describing the benefits.
(Read more at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation website)