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The Perfect Push Up

The Perfect Push Up Exercise Gimmick Although push-ups are the most rudimentary exercise in existence, multiple companies have produced ridiculous gimmicks to help you do the Perfect Push-up!

Research Blogging Award Finalist!

Research Blogging Awards 2010 Finalist Obesity Panacea has been named a Finalist for the 2010 Research Blogging Awards! You can see all the nominees by clicking on the link below.

Obese Pets: How to Help Your Furry Friend Stay Slim

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 Author: Peter Janiszewski, PhD 0 Responses

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 33 million (44%) of US Dogs and 51 million (57%) US Cats are Overweight or Obese.

“Pudgy pooches and fat cats are now the norm.” states Dr. Ernie Ward, founder and President of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) in a recent press release. He goes on to suggest that “the majority of today’s overweight pets will endure painful and expensive medical conditions – all of which can be avoided.”

But how can you tell if your pet is overweight or obese?

Here are a few simple guidelines provided by APOP:

Your Pet is Overweight if…
- Difficult to feel ribs under fat
- Sagging stomach – you can grab a handful of fat!
- Broad, flat back
- No waist is apparent

More specifically, you can refer to the Body Conditioning Scoring System for Dogs and Cats which has an easy to follow grading system (with pictures) : 1 (very thin), 2 (underweight), 3 (ideal), 4 (overweight), 5 (obese).

The APOP website also offers a helpful Pet Obesity Info Sheet which lists the proper weights of various breeds of dogs and cats, their regular dietary needs (calories), as well as nutritional information for various pet treats and foods.

For example, did you know that your Golden Retriever should not be exceeding 75 lbs while your regular domestic cat should stay under 10 lbs?

Much as in humans, excess weight among pets is associated with increased risk of numerous diseases including: osteoarthritis , diabetes, hypertension , cardiovascular disease , and cancer.

And what are the factors predisposing your pet to gaining excess weight?

A 2003 study conducted by Robertson in Murdoch University, Australia used a random telephone survey of 2326 households in the Perth metropolitan region to interview the 657 owners of a total of 860 dogs. In this study, most dogs (69.7%) were considered by their owners to be the correct-weight or body-condition, while 25.2% were considered overweight or obese - numbers that are lower than those documented in the US.

The study found that dogs that were overweight or obese were more likely to be neutered, fed snacks, be of older age, and ate only one meal a day. Additionally, for every hour of exercise performed by the dog each week their risk of obesity fell by 10%.

As your pet’s owner, you are responsible for ensuring little Mr. Bojangles lives a long and healthy life. To do so, you have to keep your cat or dog at a normal weight.

Once again, the APOP provides very helpful advice for managing your pet’s excess weight (Read: weight management for dogs and weight management for cats).

In the end, the strategies are quite similar to that for obese humans.

First, the pet should be checked by a vet for any possible disease states predisposing to obesity, and making weight loss potentially difficult.

Second is calorie balance – increasing the amount of daily exercise your pet gets (easier with dog than cat), while limiting the number of calories they ingest – being particularly careful to not exceed their nutritional requirements with snacks and scraps of “people food” or by using a self-feeder.

Keeping a daily log of activity, caloric intake, and regular weigh-ins is a good way to track progress. For a sample food and activity log for your pet click here.

And finally, if you would like your pet to participate in today's national effort to raise awareness of pet obesity, and help establish reliable data on the severity of the issue, please fill out the online Pet Obesity Data Form.

To help you figure out how to make the necessary measurements, like waist circumference, please watch the below videos (one for dog owners, and one for cat owners). [Note to email subscribers to log onto Obesity Panacea to view videos]

For more help or instruction please log onto the APOP website, which is the best website I have come across specifically addressing pet obesity.


Orignially published on Obesity Panacea in 2009.
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Robertson, I. (2003). The association of exercise, diet and other factors with owner-perceived obesity in privately owned dogs from metropolitan Perth, WA Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 58 (1-2), 75-83 DOI: 10.1016/S0167-5877(03)00009-6

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Obese, but Metabolically Healthy Individuals: at Lower Risk of Death?

Friday, August 20, 2010 Author: Peter Janiszewski, PhD 3 Responses

Very recently, an interesting study was published looking at the risk of early mortality among metabolically-healthy obese individuals – a topic we’ve covered on a number of occasions on Obesity Panacea. The authors of this landmark study published in the journal Diabetes Care are actually close friends of ours (Dr. Jennifer Kuk and Dr. Christopher Ardern), and both are alumni of Queen’s university. Now that the media frenzy surrounding their recent study has subsided, Dr. Kuk was kind enough to answer a few questions about the study and enlighten our readers.

Dr. Kuk is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University. Before Dr. Kuk was at York University, she did her PhD in the same lab that I am currently in (Queen’s university). Dr. Kuk has been instrumental in shaping my research interests while at Queen’s and beyond, and over the years has provided tremendous guidance in many areas. I could not be happier to showcase some of her pioneering research on Obesity Panacea.

Without further adieu, enjoy the interview.

OP: If you were to sum up the main findings of your study to a non-scientist at a dinner party, what would you say?

Dr. Kuk: I don't get invited to dinner parties, but if I were, I'd say that "My study shows that individuals who are obese and do not have common diabetes and heart disease risk factors die at the same rate as those who do. This means being overweight alone puts you at higher risk for dying, even though you do not high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar. This highlights the negative health impact of body weight alone".

OP: Why do you think the prevalence of metabolically-healthy obesity in your study was so much lower than previously reported in others (6% vs 20-30%)?

Dr. Kuk: The prevalence was lower in our study as compared to others simply because we used a more strict definition of metabolically normal. Other studies used insulin resistance or the metabolic syndrome (3+ risk factors) alone, but we defined 'metabolically healthy' as the absence of insulin resistance or any metabolic syndrome criteria. We felt this would be a more accurate definition of 'metabolically healthy' as each of the metabolic syndrome criteria are associated with morbidity and mortality alone.

OP: How do you reconcile the findings from the current study with those of prior studies suggesting that metabolically-health obese individuals are at no greater risk for developing type-2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease than normal weight individuals?

Dr. Kuk: Although I don't know which studies you are referring to exactly, but in our study, 80% of the deaths in the metabolically-healthy obese were due to cancer and 'other' causes. Other causes are likely traumatic injuries, which highlights an important point. Obese individuals are less likely to survive a trauma as compared to normal weight individuals despite similar injuries. This is related to longer transport times due to their higher body weight, and difficulty assessing and treating the injuries due to their increased size. Further, they are less likely to see their physicians regularly, which may be in part why cancer is generally diagnosed in obese individuals at later stages. Thus, this study fits in line with the idea that these indiviudals are not more likely to develop these metabolic diseases, but still die from other causes.

OP: Recently, Drs. Sharma and Kushner proposed a new staging system for obesity treatment suggesting that obese individuals without established metabolic risk should be counseled to maintain current weight, rather than lose weight (Read about this on Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes blog). Do the results of your study agree or disagree with these recommendations?

Dr. Kuk: One can examine this question from a theoretical or practical standpoint. From a theoretical stand, weight loss improves metabolic factors, functionality and serveral psychological and social factors, and thus it would be intutitive to recommend that all obese lose weight. However, from a practical perspective it may be unethical to recommend an individual who is not presenting with overt disease to try to lose weight as most indiviudals fail to maintain their weight loss over the long term. Repeatedly failed attempts to maintain weight loss has been shown to elevate one's risk for diabetes, CVD and cancer for a given BMI. In other words, it may be better to recommend maintenance of weight rather than prescribing weight loss, knowing that they are likely to fail and be worse off because of it. Though we did not examine this issue, Sharma and Kushner's staging system examines non-metabolic consequences as well, and it is reasonable to assume that these are equally important to examine as they are also important aspects of health, and inclusions of these factors may alter the associations observed.

OP: Are metabolically-healthy obese individuals actually healthy?

Dr. Kuk: I think that whether metabolically-healthy obese are actually healthy is dependent upon the accuracy of the definition. As we see that obese without CVD or diabetes risk factors are at elevated cancer risk implies that our definition of metabolically healthy is not capturing cancer metabolic risk factors. Similarly, risk for trauma events may also reflect aspects of health that may or may not be captured by metabolic risk factors, but are crucial aspects of health. For example, musculoskeletal fitness would be a predictor of risk of falling or functionality.

Thus, if we used a more encompassing definition, we would likely see that these metabolically-healthy obese may be at lower risk for mortality and are healthy. However, as our definition only identified 6% metabolically healthy obese, I would suspect that an all encompassing definition for healthy obese would be a very minuscule proportion of the population.

OP: What was the most interesting point raised by a reviewer during the publication process of this study?

Dr. Kuk: The most interesting point was surrounding whether metabolically normal obese should lose weight. I don't think there is a clear answer, but this study definitely provides food for thought.

OP: What came as the biggest surprise to you in doing this study?

Dr. Kuk: Our main finding was the biggest surprise. We actually expected that the metabolically normal obese were at lower risk for mortality.

Thanks very much to Dr. Jennifer Kuk!

Have a great weekend!


Originally posted on November, 2009.

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Kuk, J., & Ardern, C. (2009). Are Metabolically Normal but Obese Individuals at Lower Risk for All-Cause Mortality? Diabetes Care, 32 (12), 2297-2299 DOI: 10.2337/dc09-0574

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Get out the Grease

Monday, August 16, 2010 Author: Travis Saunders 0 Responses
Long-time readers of Obesity Panacea will know that both Peter and I are fans of physically active vacations (for full details on his most recent trip, check out his travel blog PhD Nomads).  Just before we started the blog in 2008 my girlfriend Daun and I took a 4 day cycling vacation in Prince Edward County, one of the most beautiful regions in Ontario.  It is full of wineries and artisan cheese makers and the most phenomenal white-sand beach I have ever seen, made even more amazing by the fact that it's on a lake and not an ocean. 

Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Then last summer we took an even bigger trip, cycling from Canmore, Alberta, to Chase, British Columbia, a trip which took us from one side of the Rocky Mountains to the other (full disclosure: we started on the high side and finished on the low side, so it wasn't quite as intense as it sounds... although it was still pretty intense!).  That was a pretty amazing trip as well, and one that I describe in detail here.

Entering Golden, BC.

This year Daun felt the urge for an even bigger trip - she and her sister are currently cycling from San Francisco, CA, to Vancouver, BC, a distance of nearly 1,000 miles.  The trip is taking the better part of 3 weeks, so unfortunately I couldn't do the entire trip (this whole "grad school" thing can really get in the way sometimes!), but will be meeting up with Daun and her sister later this month for the final stretch from Portland, OR to Vancouver.  I know this current trip sounds very intense, but when Daun and her sister where in undergrad they actually cycled the entire way across Canada.  That's a distance of well over 3,500 miles when done in a straight line, but they did quite a few more miles than that.  Some people think that's insane, others think it's very cool.  I obviously fall into the latter category.

Leaving San Francisco.

For anyone looking to follow Daun and Lisa's (and soon my) trip, check out their travel blog titled Get Out The Grease.  Aside from being a travel diary, they are also using the blog to collect donations for the Gulf Oil Spill cleanup (hence the name), and are carrying with them pictures of everyone who has donated $20 or more.  They've got a cool video and pictures of cycling through the Redwoods here.  Go check it out, and next time you're planning a vacation, consider including a bike or two!


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Fat Burning Zone Debuts on Globe and Mail

Thursday, August 12, 2010 Author: Peter Janiszewski, PhD 1 Response

I had previously discussed the myth of the fat burning zone, or the notion that to maximize fat loss one should exercise at a low intensity.

Recently, our friend and Jockology columnist for the Globe and Mail, Alex Hutchinson sought to answer the following question:

"How hard should I exercise if I want to lose weight?"

While Alex's take on the fat burning zone is spot on (as usual) I really like the PDF diagram accompanying the column (based on my original post on Obesity Panacea).

I think this should be printed by all those who work at gyms and posted somewhere for all their members to see.


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The fatter we get, the less we seem to notice

Thursday, August 12, 2010 Author: Peter Janiszewski, PhD 6 Responses
Does this look "normal" to you?

A significant number of overweight and obese individuals believe their body weight to be appropriate or normal and are satisfied with their body size. Misperception of overweight status is most common among the poor vs wealthy, African Americans vs white Americans, and men vs women. The unfortunate consequence is that overweight individuals who perceive themselves to be of normal weight are less likely to want to lose weight in contrast to overweight individuals with accurate perceptions. Such individuals are also more likely to smoke, have a poor diet, and be physically inactive.

An interesting hypothesis tested by Burke and colleagues in a recent Obesity journal article is that misperception of overweight status can actually increase over time in response to the secular increase in the average BMI of the US population. In other words, due to a possible anchoring effect, the more overweight the people around you become, the more one’s sense of “normal” weight is raised upwards, and thus the less likely you are to consider yourself overweight, even though you actually may be. Indeed, given that most individuals you interact with on a regular basis are likely to be overweight or obese, it becomes tough to define what someone with a normal weight looks like.

To answer the question at hand, the authors compared two representative cohorts of the United States population (NHANES) – one surveyed in the early 90’s and the other surveyed in the early 2000’s. Stated simply, they divided each cohort by gender and weight status (BMI) and compared the general perceptions of the individual’s weight.

What did they find?

Just as the researchers predicted, overweight individuals today are less likely to classify themselves as “overweight” in contrast to overweight individuals surveyed over a decade ago. For example, the proportion of overweight women who perceive their weight o be “about right” increased from 14% to 21%, and that among overweight men from 41 to 46%. This latter point also well illustrates the gender bias of weight misclassification.

Interestingly it was among individuals aged 20-25 that the greatest shift towards inaccurate weight classification occurred – overweight individuals in this age group were most likely to see themselves as “normal” weight.

Additionally, independent of the effect of time, this study confirmed a number of factors influencing one’s ability to accurately gauge their own weight status: those who are educated are more likely to self-classify as overweight than those who are not, those with higher incomes are more likely to feel overweight than those with the lowest incomes, married people are more likely to feel overweight than never-married people, and members of minority groups are less likely than whites to consider themselves overweight.

So there you have it – as a population, we are all getting fatter. Making matters worse, the fatter we all get, the less we seem to notice and the less likely we are to do anything about our bulging waistlines.

These are dangerous trends.


Originally posted November, 2009

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South American Lifestyles: Battling a Meat-Induced Delirium

Friday, August 06, 2010 Author: Peter Janiszewski, PhD 2 Responses
As our readers are now well aware I am currently exploring South America with my partner, and have been documenting our adventures on our travel blog. A recent entry from Rio de Janeiro describes our experience at a traditional Brazilian rodizio.

I thought the readers of Obesity Panacea might find this interesting.

Here is the post, as it origininally appeared on PhD Nomads on July 23rd.

“Does anyone else feel dizzy?” I ask as I force another piece of tender beef into my mouth.

“Good to know it’s not just me” responds Neil with a faint smile and glazed-over eyes. He may be the only one at the table who has sampled more varieties of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish than yours truly.

Our group of 10 is having our last dinner together in Brazil, after just arriving at our final tour destination: Rio de Janeiro.

Over the past two weeks, we had slept among bats, fished for pirhanas, snorkeled in the rivers of Bonito, explored the majestic Iguassu falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides, swam and battled the waves on the beautiful beaches of Ilha Grande, and much more.

To make the occasion special, our guide, Geraldine, decided we head to a traditional Brazilian rodizio restaurant, in particular, a rodizio of the churrascaria variety, which specializes in barbequed meat.

A rodizio is basically an all-you-can-eat affair, but in contrast to its North American version, in Brazil, you don’t even have to leave your seat.

Once again, a waiter has come to the side of our table presenting another cut of juicy meat on a skewer.

“I really don’t think I can…” I mumble staring blankly down at my plate which has a backlog of at least 3 different types of meat needing to be consumed.

“What is it?” inquires Marina.

Geraldine asks the waiter in Portuguese.

After a brief exchange, we get a verdict:

“It’s beef.”

We’ve heard these very words half a dozen times and yet in each instance the taste of the beef has been very distinct depending on the cut and the method of preparation.

Against my better judgment I motion with my personal meat-grabbing tongs to get a cut of “the beef.”

As the beef is falling on my plate, another waiter walks past our table showcasing a novelty.

“WHAT!? They also serve fish!?” I exclaim, as the waiter carrying the platter of pan-seared white fish stops in his tracks, looks back at our table and begins to walk towards us.

Before long, I am facing a backlog of 4 types of beef and an unnamed piece of fish.

With my eyes half open and my glistening face (on account of the “meat sweats”), I look over at Martyn, who’s currently enjoying a plate of fresh and light veggies.

“Salad, eh? Good idea…” I manage to say in his direction.

I really am feeling rather intoxicated.

Martyn looks over at me and smiles.

Suddenly, I become insanely thirsty and crave fresh fruit.

Marina and I quickly order a pitcher of freshly squeezed suco de naranja.

A few minutes after guzzling back the orange juice, I begin to regain my alertness.

Just as this happens, yet another waiter starts approaching our table.

“No more!”

“ Please! I can’t…”

“So much meat…”

After two hours, we have all exceeded our capacity for consuming meat.

Geraldine politely tells the waiter to stop presenting our table with meat, as we all begin to relax in our seats.

Of course, there is still dessert.


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Fitness of Canadian Adults, 2007-2009

Wednesday, August 04, 2010 Author: Travis Saunders 3 Responses
This week I am attending the Canadian Obesity Network Student Bootcamp.  I know that sounds like some sort of training program, but it's actually a full week of obesity related education with some of Canada's top obesity researchers in a small town outside of Quebec City.  Many of my friends and colleagues (Peter included) have attended the bootcamp in the past, and all have told me that its one of their best grad school experiences.  Everyday there are lectures from obesity experts like Arya Sharma, JP Depres, and Angelo Tremblay, as well as "journal club" presentations from other students.  Below I've embedded a copy of my presentation, which is on the paper "Fitness of Canadian Adults: Results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey".  I discussed the paper in a post a few months ago, but I thought I'd include the full presentation here since it has quite a bit more detail than the original post.  I also wanted an excuse to try out SlideShare, which allows you to embed power point (with audio) into a blog post.  So feedback would be greatly appreciated.

To follow the goings-on at the bootcamp itself, be sure to check out Arya Sharma's blog, where he will almost certainly be providing updates as the week progresses.

Enjoy the presentation!


ResearchBlogging.orgShields, M, Tremblay, MS, Laviolette, M, Craig, CL, Janssen, I, & Connor Gorber, S (2010). Fitness of Canadian adults: Results from the 2007-2009 Canadian
Health Measures Survey Health Reports, 21 (1), 1-15

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How to treat or prevent an athletic injury

Monday, August 02, 2010 Author: Travis Saunders 0 Responses
 Image by Frankenstoen.

Earlier this year I asked our readers what issues they'd like to see covered here on Obesity Panacea, and one topic that came up repeatedly was injuries.  It was a great idea, but as an exercise physiologist I don't really deal with injuries on a regular basis.  So I decided to interview two good friends of mine who do.

Jessie Moser is a Certified Athletic Therapist working with a number of high level sports teams in British Columbia, while Liz Henderson is an Occupational Therapist working for a school board in northern Alberta, and who has also worked extensively in a hospital setting.  We did our undergraduate degrees in Kinesiology together at the University of Calgary, and the ladies were nice enough to answer a few of my questions.  Pay special attention to some of Liz's "things to think about", which makes a great checklist of important questions that may not come immediately to mind in the doctor's office. As always (and as both Liz and Jess mention), be sure to talk to your physician if you are concerned about an injury. Enjoy the interview!


TS: What are the types of injuries that you see most often?

JS: Working with hockey I see a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries. Injuries range from minor strains and sprains (AC sprains and groin or hip flexor strains) to lacerations, concussions, dislocations and fractures.

LZ: I am assuming you mean orthopaedic injuries (involving muscles and bones). I saw a lot of broken tibia/fibula (post surgical repairs) and people with broken radii/ulna (again post surgery). I also saw a lot of post acromial space decompressions. Less common were broken femurs and hips (post repair surgery) and post tendon repair surgeries (a lot in hands and some Achilles tendon repairs).  But at the hospital I also saw people with strokes, people whole deep vein thrombosis, people with mental health concerns, people with acquired brain injuries, people with amputations and people with dementia. 

TS: What types of injuries are the easiest to deal with, and which ones tend to be give people trouble over the long-term?

LH: Injuries in healthy people who have no underlying health concerns (ie highblood pressure, diabetes, smoking or dementia) are the easiest to deal with. I also find injuries of the lower leg (broken tib/fib) easier to deal with. The restrictions that are place on you when you have that kind of injury impact your daily life less. Sure you are unable to drive, and walking with crutches/a cane is a pain but with an arm injury everything you used to do with two hands is now a challenge, getting dressed, cooking, packing up your briefcase/office bag. Just try not using one hand for a day - IT'S HARD.

That all being said, broken bones where peripheral nerve damage occurs, there tends to be long lasting effects. Sensation is lost to an area, small muscles in the area can develop contractures ( permanently shorten). Peripheral nerves regrow at a rate of .2mm/day, if they regrow at all.

JS: Strains seem to give people the most problems over the long term. This is mostly because they are the ones that athletes try to push through and never let heal properly. Easiest injury to deal with is a fracture, you splint them, take them to the ER and then they are casted - pretty simple.

TS: If you could give someone one or two tips on how to stay injury-free, what would it/they be? Anything that people should definitely avoid? Anything that people should be doing to prevent injuries in the first place?

LZ: Be careful on ice! [Travis' note: it gets really cold in northern Alberta, even by Canadian standards]  A lot of broken hips/wrists occur in early winter on icy surfaces! Know your limits when skiing/snowboarding! We could always tell when it was class trip time to the local ski hill, our paediatric ward became very full with broken upper limbs.

If your job requires sitting for long period of time - make sure your getting exercise somewhere in your day and you can give your body a break from being in the same position all the time. If you notice a set of muscles are tight/painful all the time, talk to your occupational health and safety worker (it's easier to help overuse injuries in the early stages!!).

For the nurses, OTs and PTs out there, don’t be a hero when transferring/moving patients, know the policy on lifting, use mechanical lifts whenever you can, and get help from other people! Also make sure your stretching and doing regular core-strength training to help prevent injuries. Most facilities provide training of lifting techniques, attend these and PRACTICE.

For those out there who perform very physical jobs, ensure your still getting regular exercise, this will develop the muscles that you might not use everyday at work and prevent over use injuries. Be aware of your surroundings and safety protocols are there for a reason!

TS: As you may remember, I've never been terribly fond of stretching, resulting in very poor flexibility in my legs and lower back. Should I be worried about this?

JS: You should be worried about any muscular imbalances. You need to be flexible enough that you are mobile and functional for your particular sport or activity. I deal with a lot of athletes that simply want to lift a lot of weight and get "jacked". You can be the strongest person but if you are unable to move on the ice through the range of motion intended for that joint, you are not only going to be ineffective playing but you will also make yourself more prone to muscle strains and joint damage.

Not everyone needs to have the same flexibility. For instance, a goalie must be more flexible then a player due to the demands of their position.

LH: How much do you like your achillies tendons in one piece Travis? As we get older the flexibility in our muscles decreases, making us more susceptible to tendon tearing injuries.

Your lower back shouldn’t really be “flexible”, it's designed to transfer the weight of your body to your pelvis. If you look at a model of the spine your lumbar vertebrae are less mobile then thoracic and cervical vertebrae. So I wouldn’t worry about lower back flexibility.

Tight hamstrings on the other hand are 1 part of the 2 part combo that most commonly causes lower back pain (there are many cause of lower back pain! Please go see your family doctor if you are experiencing chronic lower back pain, there could be scary dangerous things going on, besides what I say here). The other part of this combo is weak core muscles. Being overweight also increases your risk of having chronic lower back pain.

So, Travis: Stretch!

TS: Shin splints suck. How do you deal with them once they develop, and how can you avoid them altogether?

LH: Physiotherapists usually deal with them once they develop (not my area of expertise). To avoid, ensure well fitting, lace up shoes. If you get them from running, or another repetitive activity slowing increase your activity level, don’t go from not running at all to running every day of the week!.

JS: "Shin splints" is an umbrella term that means anterior shin pain. It covers conditions such as stress reactions of the tibia, stress fractures, periostitis, compartment syndromes and so on. General guidelines to avoid them are to make sure that you have proper footwear and training surfaces, avoid over training and increase training gradually if you are prone to develop "shin splints". It is also important to find the cause of your pain - is it a foot up [eg. between the foot and knee] or hip down [eg. between the hip and knee] problem. Make sure you see a doctor as x-rays or a bone scan may be in order. Most of the time dealing with "shin splints" means finding the cause, correcting it, resting, decreasing inflammation and gradual return to play.

TS: What should people do when they first think they have an over-use injury? Who should they call?

JS: Doctor is always a good way to go. They have the tools at their disposal to diagnose (MRI, bone scan etc). Athletic injuries should come to a Sport Physio or Athletic Therapist as they are trained in this department. Depending on the complications of the injuries other health care professionals may be helpful.

LH: Call your doctor! And if it is work related contact occupational health and safety at your work place. Other possible causes of the issue need to be ruled out, make sure there is no bone damage/nerve damage. This is where you might have to become a pain in the Doctor’s side and advocate for yourself. Ask for x-rays of the area. At most doctor’s offices no news from tests is good news. In this case make an appointment to go and get the test results and form a plan with your doctor. Ask if a referral to physio/massage therapy/occupational therapy is appropriate.

TS: I've talked with friends about the importance of knowing the difference between soreness (as a result of a workout) and pain (as a result of an injury). Do you have any tips on how to tell one from the other?

JS: A big line in the hockey world is "are you hurt or are you injured?". Honestly can't count how many times I've heard that from the coaches I've worked with. The difference between being sore and being injured is that when you are sore you have not created damage limiting your ability for normal function. If you are injured you have decreased function.

LH: 1st rule of thumb is: know your body! Be aware of what post workout muscle soreness feels like to you.
2nd rule of thumb is: if the pain lasts for 1 week or more go to your doctor.
3rd rule of thumb is: if your heard pops or cracks in your body, and now a body part if a funny shape or your have a funny “lump” on a muscle, go see your doctor.

TS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

LH: If you have had an injury (broken bone/tendon especially), write down questions you have for your doctor about what you are / are not allowed to do and for how long and don’t leave until they have answered the questions. Surgeons are busy people - they are really good at fixing body parts, but sometimes they are not the best at explaining in non-medical terms what restrictions there are on a post surgical body part.

Some things to think about:

-can I get it wet?
-can I have sex?
-can I drive?
-can I walk?
- when can I run or ( insert favourite leisure activity here)?
-Will drinking/smoking slow my healing? (the answer is yes, alcohol is like poison to healing bone, smoking restricts blood flow to the area)?
- How much can I lift?
- Do I need to see OT/PT? ( in my experience, they will forget about this unless you ask, especially if your in the ER)
-What movement can I do/not do?

TS: Thanks ladies!

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About Us

We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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