Isotonic vs Isometric, Huh?

Look at your upper arms as you flex (bend your arm at the elbow). You’ll see the top-of-the-arm muscle push up the skin (or “bulge” for those with python upper arms). What you’re observing is the contraction of your bicep. Contractions are the action that happened when muscles shorten. Lengthen or shortening of muscles are involved in most every movement we make.

In the case of contractions, there are two major types: isotonic and isometric. And you can tell the difference by what happens to the length of the muscle (shorten, lengthen, or no change).

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Relax With Music, Really?

Researchers at Stanford University (2006) concluded that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.”  That’s right, music is officially a “therapeutic modality” – a proven way of changing how you feel.

Most of us know that uptempo (faster) music can get you fired up and make you feel more alert.That same music also helps many concentrate better. Want to relax? Try a down-tempo (slower) track that will help quiet your mind and relax your muscles.

Now medical science has jumped on board and are using music to calm the nerves of patients in dentist and doctor offices, relaxing patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, and calming down kids nervous about their visit to their pediatrician.

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Massage and a Better Life

Evidence suggests that massage and other relaxation therapies can have a substantial impact on the quality of your life. Study after study in patients with everything from breast cancer to arthritis, sports injuries, heart conditions, depression, and learning disorders cite real and positive benefits to receiving regular massage.

In both male and female patients with significant illnesses or traumatic injury, the reduction of stress and relaxation of muscles helps speed recover by reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep quality, and increasing the efficiency of blood flow.

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Combating Dad Stress

Whether you’re a new dad or the seasoned dad of grown children, you now about stress. It’s not the same stress that comes from deadlines at work, staring at unpaid bills, or even forgetting an anniversary. It’s “Dad Stress”. Dad stress comes along with the responsibility of being a parent, and it can be just as difficult to deal with as “Mom Stress”.

In today’s world of working more and relaxing less, there’s never been a more important time to learn to manage your stress. Some men choose to hide their stress, fearing that others will see them as weak. Actually, it’s the opposite. Men who acknowledge and manage their stress are seen as stronger, better partners, and more emotionally balanced.

What is dad stress?

Stress is a physical or emotional reaction to internal or external events. Dads have a lot of opportunities to experience both kinds. They experience external stress when they spend sleepless nights helping take care of the newborn (and their partner). They are stressed when the teen gets the car keys for the first time. They’re stressed when a child gets hurt.

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The Truth About Lactic Acid

lacticacidmolecules
Lactic acid molecule

Since the 1960’s researchers have known that the connection between delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and lactic acid is a myth.

Lactic acid is a continual product of carbohydrate metabolism.  It holds a position as a temporary product at the end of glycolysis and at the head of the aerobic Krebs cycle.  That’s a fancy way of saying that lactic acid is formed when sugar is broken down in your body and it’s produced whenever the body breaks down carbohydrates for energy.  The lactic acid actually helps generate energy. Lactic acid is not a toxin. Then why does it get such a bad rap?

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The Perfect Piriformis

Piriformis

The piriformis is a busy muscle. It is involved in almost every motion of the hips and legs.

The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. The piriformis enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance. It is also used in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs.

Specifically, the piriformis muscle is part of the lateral rotators of the hip, along with the quadratus femoris, gemellus inferior, gemellus superior, obturator externus, and obturator internus. The piriformis laterally rotates the femur with hip extension and abducts the femur with hip flexion. Abduction of the flexed thigh is important in the action of walking because it shifts the body weight to the opposite side of the foot being lifted, which keeps us from falling. The action of the lateral rotators can be understood by crossing your legs to rest an ankle on the knee of the other leg. This causes the femur to rotate and point the knee laterally. The lateral rotators also oppose medial rotation by the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. When the hip is flexed to 90 degrees, piriformis abducts the femur at the hip (Netter’s Clinical Anatomy, 2010)

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You Don’t Have To Put Up With Back Pain

A recent study conducted at the Center on an Aging Society at Georgetown University found that back pain is the most common cause of workdays lost in the US. It is the 2nd most common cause of visits to the doctor’s office and experts estimate that 80% of the population will have a back pain issue at some point in their lives. Not only are we a society in pain, but when it gets bad enough we lose work, money, and then have to pay in an attempt to relieve the pain. Many of us are currently facing these problems and are met with the question of how do I get better and how do I decrease the likelihood that the pain will return. In order to determine the best way to answer these questions, we must first understand what is causing the pain from a structural and physiological standpoint.

pain-diagram-3
Figure 1

Webster’s dictionary defines pain as “the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body.” So how do our bodies interpret these “hurts.” What it boils down to is the irritation of nerves. Nerves form an extensive meshwork that traverses every square inch of our bodies and allows our brain to interpret our environment. Nerves can be irritated either by direct trauma or the processes of inflammation. Inflammation is a cellular/chemical storm that takes place at the site of pain to conduct the healing process. This brings us to the standard pain theory diagram illustrated in figure 1.

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10 Ways to Improve Your Quality of Life

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.  See how many of these YOU can do!

1. Learn something new. Teach yourself some new recipes. Learn to play poker. Try your hand at Portuguese.  Why not?  Stimulate your brain and you will be happier.

2. Talk to someone.  Not texting. Not email. Not a note on the table. Brew up some tea or hang out at Starbucks and really TALK to someone about anything–not just serious stuff.

3. Eat better. OK.  You know this one.  Better nutrition leads to feeling better and that leads to a higher quality of life.

4. Think positively. Catch yourself when you start to look on the dull side of life or when you become a “negative nelly.”  Be positive.  It works.

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