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Training Your Inner Fireman

HIIT Methods: Jacob’s Ladder

At one time, we could all crawl and we did it very well.  An infant develops the strength and coordination necessary to stand upright and walk by crawling.  The reciprocal arm/leg crawl pattern of the Jacob’s Ladder helps restore joint stability, coordination, and balance.  All of us have established neural pathways for crawling.  They are just cluttered up and inhibited by prior injuries, poor posture, bad training habits, and a sedentary lifestyle.  Performing some Jacob’s Ladder intervals will bring those pathways back to life.

The Jacob’s Ladder is a 40 degree inclined total body conditioning activity.  The ladder is self-propelled, and your position on the ladder sets the pace of the climb.  Wrap the belt around your waist with the emblem set over the side of your right hip.  Adjust the white section of the strap so that it matches your height.  Step onto the ladder and start climbing.  Initially, place the hands on the side rails and get use to climbing with just the legs.  Once you get comfortable with the stride pattern, progress to using the hands on the rungs.  Work on improving your coordination and form during the initial Jacob’s Ladder sessions.  When you are ready to stop, simply ride the ladder to the bottom and the ladder will stop.  Listed below are some of the HIIT sessions that work well with the Jacobs Ladder.

Five Climbs
Pick a distance, 100-200 feet works well for most fitness clients.  Start the stopwatch and climb 100-200 feet and  then rest.  Repeat four more times and record your time to complete five climbs of 100-200 feet.

50 feet / 20 seconds rest
Climb fifty feet at a fast pace.  Rest twenty seconds and repeat.  Repeat for a total of six intervals.

Ladder Ladders  
This routine will help you develop better endurance.  Climb 100 feet and rest 60 seconds.  Climb 200 feet and rest 60 seconds.  Climb 300 feet and rest 60 seconds.  Climb 400 feet and rest 60 seconds.  Climb 500 feet and rest 60 seconds.  If you feel strong enough, climb back down; 400-300-200-100 feet.

Save My Baby Sprints
You are the fireman.  The building is on fire and the lady with the baby is at the window of the high rise.  Hold onto the side rails and sprint up to that baby in the window 200 feet up.  Rest 30 seconds and then go get another baby.  Your job is to save four babies.

View video of Mike on the Jacob’s Ladder here: https://youtu.be/rqYz0tmPIc8

For more information on the many benefits of high intensity interval training, read the The One Minute Workout by Dr. Martin Gibala.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Think About This

The Latest Science on the Prevention of Alzheimer’s

Over the last 30 years, more than two hundred experimental drugs have failed to produce any success in the fight against Alzheimer’s.  It does not appear we are going to have a pharmaceutical for the treatment of Alzheimer’s any time in the near future.  A recent *article in the April issue of Scientific American discusses a treatment option that does appear to work.  This is currently our only hope in the fight against this terrible disease.  The good news is the treatment that prevents cognitive decline helps with so many other problems.

The study’s researchers demonstrated that an interventional program of exercise, proper nutrition, and cognitive training produced significant improvements in brain function.  The **Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER study) enrolled 1260 men and women between ages 60 and 77.  Over the course of two years, participants demonstrated improved cognitive test scores in processing speed (up 150%), executive function (up 83%), and complex memory (up 40%).

The exercise program in this study was not complex or time consuming.  The routines were developed by physical therapists and performed four or five days a week.  The exercise sessions involved strength training, balance skills, and aerobic activities.  As the participants became fitter, their training regimens were progressed–more challenging activities, more resistance, and/or more volume.  The time spent in training was four to five hours a week.

If your goal is to maintain or improve cognitive capacity and remain independent, then the prescription is a consistent routine of exercise.  Take the time to read the article, lace up your sneakers, and make a progressive program of fitness a lifelong habit.

* A Rare Success Against Alzheimer’s, Scientific American, April 2017

** The FINGER study, Alzheimer Prevention. Download the article here: http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEViMTIfZYurkAQNsnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBybGY3bmpvBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1492554131/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.alzheimersprevention.org%2fdownloadables%2fFINGER-study-report-by-ARPF.pdf/RK=0/RS=fHWCrTAi9LEEDrH5jWfmRvAI7LU-

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

McDonald’s has decided to forgo any attempts at healthy menu choices and is embracing its true identity. In an effort to win back market share, they are expanding into home delivery. Soon your order will be taken online and an Uber driver will deliver your Big Mac, fries, and a shake with none of the bothersome human movement formerly involved in consuming 1300 calories of McDonald’s products. Is it any wonder America is losing the War on Obesity? Every day, “food companies” like McDonald’s are devising methods that make consuming their creations more convenient. The March 1, 2017 article in the Wall Street Journal by Julie Jargon, McDonald’s Decides to Embrace Fast-Food Identity explains.

–Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Listen to a podcast from the author, Julie Jargon here: http://www.wsj.com/podcasts/mcdonald-embraces-its-fast-food-identity/4B982D2D-B4E9-4AC3-BD15-D3E292E9507A.html

Are You Ready?

Spring At The Physical Therapy Clinic

The weather is warming up and soon we will leave the heated, insulated, safety of our home gyms and fitness centers.  The spring migration back to tennis, soccer, pickleball, golf, fitness running, ultimate Frisbee, and stadium steps will begin.  My physical therapy question is– Are you ready for these new challenges?  Has your fitness program prepared you to withstand the rigors of these spring endeavors?  This checklist should help you answer the question.

Have you been performing most of your fitness activities in standing?
Nearly every sport and most household chores are performed in a standing position.  During most of my visits to commercial gyms, the majority of the activity I witness is in the supine, seated, or heavily supported positions.  If your goal is to move better and remain free of injury, then 90% of your exercise should be performed in standing.

Do you practice moving in all directions?
Nearly every sport involves moving side to side, forward-backward, and in a rotational pattern.  Basketball, soccer, golf, and tennis all require you to accelerate and decelerate movement in all directions.  Most gym activities are predominantly sagittal plane– forward and backward.  You ride on the elliptical, spin the bike, and run on the treadmill for months, and your spring visit to the tennis court results in a twisted ankle because you are unfamiliar with side to side movement patterns.

Have you been working on better balance?
Balance is a skill that tends to deteriorate with age, injury, and a sedentary lifestyle.  Many commercial exercise machines take all balance demands away.  The elliptical, spin bike, recumbent bike, rower… all are heavily supported.  Proficiency with single leg stance balance prevents injuries and improves performance.  The older and more deconditioned you have become, the more your fitness program should include single leg stance balance training.

Do you perform any explosive exercises?
We get slower before we get weaker, and life is an up-tempo game.  We need to perform exercise that enhances quickness and improves control of deceleration forces.  What you do in the gym is reflected in how well you can move during activities of daily living.  If you continually exercise at slow tempos, you will get better at moving slowly.  If you train explosively, you get better at moving at faster speeds.  The capacity to decelerate a fall requires fast reactions.  Gracefully traveling up the stairs and getting out of the car are only improved with exercise that enhances power production and speed of movement.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#10–Establish A Veggie And Protein Habit

One of the biggest deficits I see in many food logs is the lack of protein consumed.  We have been conditioned to snack on high carb/highly processed food, so eating more protein can be a difficult shift.  When I do see protein, it’s in the higher fat varieties of sausage, bacon, burgers, etc.  It would benefit younger individuals to start adding healthy doses of protein to their diets as soon as they are responsible for their own food preparation.  Shoot to have some form of lean protein as the base of your meal along with a couple of servings of vegetables. Once you have that base (taking up ½ to ⅔ of your plate), then you can add in whole grains, starchy carbs, fruits, dairy, healthy fats, etc.  Protein increases your metabolic rate more than any other nutrient, aids in recovery, helps build and maintain muscle mass, and much more.  We recommend 25-35% of total calories to come from protein, or 0.8-1gram/pound of body weight.  Most individuals should shoot for 4-8 servings of vegetables per day as well.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  I can speak first-hand about the horror of this disease.  Colon cancer, slowly and painfully, killed my father at the age of forty-nine.  Everyone needs to learn the facts about colon cancer and get tested.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the USA.  The good news is that colon cancer can be beaten if it is caught at an early stage.  The American Cancer Society recommends people over the age of fifty have a colonoscopy examination.  Unfortunately, only about 60 percent of the fifty years plus population are up-to-date on their colon cancer screening, and many have never been screened at all.  If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you need to get tested at an earlier age.

A worrisome trend is a rise in colorectal cancers in young people.  Take the time to read the attached article by Roni Caryn Rabin in the February 28, 2017 edition of The New York Times.  Doctors are not certain why more 20 and 30 year olds are developing these cancers, but we need to be aware that this disease is no longer just an older adult issue.

Half of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented if people got tested regularly. That’s why the American Cancer Society, in partnership with several other organizations, has set a goal to increase colon cancer screening rates to 80 percent by 2018.  This could save more than 7,000 lives a year.

More than 50,000 deaths from colon cancer are expected this year.  That makes up 9 percent of all cancer deaths in the USA.  Proactive screening for colorectal cancer works.  We need to get more people involved.

Read the NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/well/live/colon-and-rectal-cancers-rising-in-young-people.html?_r=0

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#9–Build Muscle

Much like strength, muscle mass is often not prioritized until it is largely too late.  Though you can still build muscle at an older age, it is much more difficult.  Muscle mass is highly correlated with strength which is correlated with power.  All of these tend to decline substantially at around age 30.  If you take advantage of your hormonal environment and your recovery abilities in your 20’s, you can stockpile a good amount of muscle for the rest of your life so that you can keep doing everything you want as you age.  More muscle also means a better and healthier metabolism which means less accumulation of unwanted body fat and overall better health. The best way to build muscle mass is through resistance training with gradual increases to volume (weight x reps x sets) over time along with a moderate to high protein intake.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#8—Eliminate Liquid Calories

One of the easiest ways to improve nutrition is to eliminate liquid calories from the diet.  Liquid calories for young people can come in many forms including coffee drinks, alcohol, pop, smoothies, juice, energy drinks, etc.  Most of these items offer very little nutritional benefit, are highly correlated with increased body fat, and don’t cause the same amount of satiety (feeling of fullness) of their calorie matched food equivalents.  Over the last decade working with individuals on their nutrition, I have seen magical transformations simply by eliminating calories you can drink.  Rather than wait for the body fat to pile on and your insulin sensitivity to be shot, avoid this pitfall early in life.  Opt instead for more water, plain tea, or diet soda if you can’t resist something sweet and fizzy.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#7—Go Easy On Caffeine And Sleep More.

Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in the United States.  We consume it in coffee, tea, pop, energy drinks, and sometimes even in pill form.  We often consume caffeine to help us feel more awake and alert or to elevate our performance.  Often times, this is done in an effort to undo the lethargic effects of inadequate sleep.  Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to caffeine.  These individuals can experience increased heart rate and/or blood pressure which puts extra strain on the cardiovascular system.  All the caffeine in the world will not make up for the poor hormonal profile which results from low levels of sleep and eventually leads to decreased muscle mass and increased fat mass.  In addition, the stimulating effects of caffeine wear off over time and your body requires more and more to create the same effect.  It is far better in your 20’s to establish a sleep and waking routine that allows you to consistently get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  The well-formed habit will then be easier to maintain as you age and adopt a more complicated schedule with work, kids, a spouse, etc.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Training Modifications That Help With Your Medication

Statin medications are amazingly effective at lowering blood lipids and have, undoubtedly, lengthened lives.  More doctors are recommending their patients start on these drugs at younger ages.  For a long time, we have known that a common side effect of cholesterol lowering statin drugs is severe muscle soreness after exercise.  Recent research on animal models has demonstrated that statin medications inhibit the beneficial muscle adaptations that occur with exercise.  If you are taking a statin drug, take the time to read Gretchen Reynolds’s interesting article in The New York Times, “A Fitness Downside to Statin Drugs?”  Over the years, I have found certain exercise modifications help reduce the muscle soreness symptoms in physical therapy and fitness clients who are taking statins.  The following recommendations may work for you.

Delayed onset muscle soreness is more pronounced with two types of training:  eccentric type muscle contractions (the muscle lengthens against resistance) and deceleration activities (landing from a jump, hop, or stride).  I have found that managing eccentric muscle contractions and reducing deceleration activity allows clients taking statins the ability to perform beneficial training with less discomfort.

Manage Eccentric Muscle Contractions

Eccentric contractions (the muscle lengthens against resistance) create more micro trauma to the muscle fibers, and it takes longer to recover from a bout of training that involves more eccentric repetitions.  Controlled pace, bodybuilding type muscle isolation training delivers eccentric loading in an effort to stimulate a hypertrophy response in the muscle.

Performing isometric strength training (no movement of the joints) completely eliminates the eccentric portion of an exercise.  Sled pulling and pushing has no eccentric component and many statin medicated fitness clients say this fairly intense fitness activity is well tolerated.  A suspension trainer works well to preferentially unload the eccentric portion of a squat or lunge movement pattern.  Strength training with resistance tubing creates an accommodated force curve that reduces eccentric loading of the muscles.  At FFAC, we have a Surge 360 that is a concentric only device that works all directions of a push or pull with no eccentric muscle stress.  A good fitness coach can find multiple ways to reduce the eccentric involvement of an exercise activity.

Reduce Impact

Impact activities produce high intensity, eccentric muscle contractions.  Land from a jump off a box and your quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles must create a quick, coordinated contraction that slows your interaction with gravity.  Deceleration eccentric exercises create more muscle damage and repeated deceleration events are notorious for creating higher levels of delayed onset muscle soreness.

If you want to perform “cardio exercise,” choose the elliptical, Ski Erg, or one of the many types of bikes.  If you possess the mobility, use a Concept 2 rower.  Stay away from the impact of treadmill running and avoid jumping rope, jumping jacks, and any activity that involves both feet leaving the ground.  Medicine ball throws can be performed with minimal impact and produce an excellent muscular and neurological training response.  Avoid box jumps, Olympic lifts, and any other activity that creates an impact on your body.

Talk to Your Doctor

I have worked with many people who had a discussion with their doctor and a simple alteration of their statin medication resulted in far fewer side effects.  I am always surprised by how often patients are reluctant to report their symptoms of severe muscle soreness to their physician.

So those are the hints that have come from years of my work with physical therapy patients and fitness clients.  Stay off the wheel and stay healthy.

Read the NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/well/move/a-fitness-downside-to-statin-drugs.html

-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

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