Low back pain (LBP) can be one of the most debilitating experiences of your life, as some of you may already know. Statistics show that 80% of adults will experience at least one episode of serious back pain. Furthermore the research shows that once you’ve had a significant low back pain episode the likelihood of re-occurrence is very high and the probability of it becoming chronic is significant. This often leads to the sufferer becoming even less active and avoiding certain exercises to avoid pain and thinking this decision will help their situation. Notwithstanding this strategy only contributes to their back becoming weaker and even more vulnerable to even more frequent and debilitating injury. Unfortunately to find relief far too many people, and their doctors defer to medication and eventually surgery without ever considering exercise. Yet a properly developed exercise program of stretching and strengthening exercises have proven to be the most effective method for combating many low back, postural, and cervical neck issues. In fact several current meta-analyses confirm the superior effectiveness of exercise for low back pain. Subsequently there is a high probability that a Certified Fitness Professional (CFP) can help you with LBP by slowly improving the strength and condition of your back, avoiding the risks of surgery and improving the quality of your life. The largest of these studies reviewed 23 published reports on 21 different randomized clinical trials involving 30,850 individual participates.  Another included reviews of 29 separate trials with sample sizes ranging from 20 to 323 persons for a total of 2431 individual participants.  Each of these comprehensive analyses looked at an array of significant factors that resulted in positive outcomes for the various studies and its participants. Among other matrices regarding low back pain, they looked at pain reduction, improved spinal mobility, muscle strength and endurance, quality of life, participant's sense of independence and well being. Both of these meta studies found exercise to be the most effective cure for chronic low back pain.
“I was referred to Richard by my physical therapist, after my second round of PT with her for my back. I was pretty miserable at the time. I had had two series of epidurals, and multiple PT sessions over the prior year. I was at the point where I could not stand still for more than a few minutes without pain shooting down my glutes and into my leg, with tingling and numbness in my feet. That was tough since my job requires a lot of standing. Richard proved to be the solution. He is not just a "trainer" - the man is incredibly smart, knows everything about the body, and how to explain things in a way that reinforces the exercises he takes me through. Since I started working with Richard, I have been largely pain-free, comfortable standing for long periods, and back to an active lifestyle (biking, golf, etc). I am north of 60 years old, and one of the great things about Richard is he is not that much younger than me (but in much better shape!), and so he knows how to work with someone my age. It's been life-changing for me.”
Roger F., Law Firm Senior Partner
Over time this muscle imbalance can result in structural changes in the vertebrae of the cervical spine (neck). Nevertheless, if caught in time a corrective program of stretching, muscle activation, and strengthening can significantly reduce the severity of posture issues.
I started working out with Richard Parker, Jr. of the Sports Club/LA over 10 years ago at a time when I was experiencing chronic back and neck pain. About the same time, I got back into horse-back riding which I hadn’t done in over two decades with any regularity. I joined a local Maryland fox-chasing club and got totally hooked on this particular equestrian sport. A day of fox-chasing can be pretty intensive – 3 to 5 hours in the saddle over rough terrain at speeds that would not be described as sedate. Core strength and balance are critical, as well as endurance. Fox-chasing season – September through March - is followed by a month or two of riding cross country courses from 3 to 6 miles in length with anywhere from 20 to 30 jumps of various heights. Perhaps to some that might not sound so intense. But for me, considering that I sit behind a desk 40+ hours each week, along with my spinal issues, it is no accident that I’m able to do this. Credit goes to Richard - I would not be able to pursue this activity to the extent I do if it weren’t for the personalized training program that Richard developed for me, taking into consideration my back and neck issues, and tailoring a program specific to my needs.
Martha Klasing, Managing Partner, Operations
If you are considering the irreversible risk of back surgery please consider the findings of these and other studies published in the Journal of American Medical Association, The Cochrane Library, and the Lancet. The Lancet study recommends simply this,“surgery and over treatment should be avoided.”  The point is, supervised exercise should be tried first, exhausted even, before considering the often irreversible risks of back surgery. Exercise is a proven method for dealing with back pain allowing the body to naturally and non-invasively heal itself. But the choice is always yours.
1. Steffens D, Maher CG, Pereira LS, Stevens ML, Oliveira VC, Chapple M, Teixeira-Salmela LF, Hancock MJ. (2016) Prevention of low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine 176(2):199-208
2. Saragiotto BT, Maher CG, Yamato TP, Costa LO, Menezes Costa LC, Ostelo RW, Macedo LG, (2016) Motor control exercises for chronic non specific low back pain; Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews 8;(1): CD012004
3. Balagué F, Mannion AF, Pallisé F, Cedraschi C, (2012) Non-specific low back pain; The
Lancet 379(9814), p482-491
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Grocery stores are battlefields
I thought this was an interesting synopsis of how "great and health foods" can be ruined by simple and seemingly innocuous adulteration that can easily slip by us despite our best efforts.
It really is like a war! You must be a very vigilant gate keeper regarding what you allow to pass through your Pearly Gate.
What may at first seem like a great Healthy Choice can turn out to be nothing more than another Trojan Horse!
FROM WEBMD: K. ALEISHA FETTERS
"The health-foods aisle has a way of making people fat—and unhealthy—and understandably pretty ticked-off. After all, isn't munching on (nasty-tasting) health foods supposed to be good for you?
If food manufacturers were really out to boost your health, yes. But their end goal isn't making consumers healthier. It's making money. And packaging foods as "healthy," "smart," and "natural" is an easy way to make a buck. Unfortunately, apart from suckering you into eating foods that really aren't any healthier than whatever it is you're trying to sub out, those healthy labels can make you overeat big time.
In fact, in a 2015 Penn State study, researchers found that the more fitness-branded foods dieters bought, they more they ate and the less they exercised. So, potentially, your health-foods diet could pack more calories, fat, and ridiculously convoluted chemicals than your unhealthy diet ever did.
That's especially true if you are noshing on any of these...health foods that … can torpedo your health."
Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, M.P.H., author of The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. Explains:
"Quinoa is, without question, an incredibly healthy food. It contains fewer carbs and sugars than regular pasta, and it's packed with protein and all of the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle. Unfortunately, many quinoa pastas contain more corn flour, a cheap gluten-free flour, than anything else.
The result: It contains just as many calories, more carbs, and fewer grams of protein than if you just stuck with wheat pasta, Batayneh says. Before buying any quinoa pasta, flip over the box. Look for brands that contain one ingredient: Quinoa
"When you remove the gluten out of a food product, you're taking away the ingredient that provides that delicious, chewy texture in breads, muffins, cakes, pasta, and more. To make up for the loss of flavor and texture, food manufacturers often add in other fillers, including sugars, fats, and other chemical additives," Batayneh says.
"Ultimately, your gluten-free snacks end up with more calories and sugars and don't even taste as good!" Sure, if you are gluten intolerant you shouldn't eat gluten-containing packaged foods. But every guy should shoot to remove all packaged foods, not just ones with gluten, from his diet.
"Multigrain breads only indicate that the bread contains multiple grains. It says nothing about their degree of refinement," Batayneh says. Refined grains have been extensively processed, and their bran and germ, the fiber-, vitamin, and mineral-containing part of the grain, have been removed, leaving only simple carbs that spike your blood sugar and promote weight gain.
"Look for breads that have some sort of whole grain—whole wheat, whole rye, whole oats—as their first ingredient. If it has multiple whole grains, that's great—just make sure they're whole so that you're getting as much fiber and as many vitamins and minerals as possible," she says
Yogurt's healthy, fruit's healthy, so how does this one go wrong: With the spoonfuls of fruit-flavored syrup the fruit's floating in, Batayneh says. A typical six-ounce fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt container contains 29 grams of carbs and 24 of sugar. That's the equivalent of a candy bar. Opt for buying plain yogurt and adding in fresh fruit. It'll take more time, but it won't make your blood sugar levels plummet and you feel hungry 30 minutes later.
PRE- PREPARED SALADS
"If it comes down to chicken nuggets or a pre-packaged salad, the salad is most likely healthier, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily healthy," Batayneh says. Many pre-packaged salads you'll find at restaurants, airport terminals, and supermarkets contain upwards of 1,000 calories. Meanwhile, the cheese, croutons, and meats pack a ton of sodium, which is used both as a preservative and to boost the salad's flavor.
Unfortunately, many pre-packaged salads don't come with ingredient or nutrition labels. If that's the case with whatever salad you're eying, don't buy it. Look for ingredient labels and make sure neither calories or sodium are through the roof. Or, better yet, make your own salad."
So clearly the grocery store is nothing more than a battle field and your body and health is the prize!
Go well armed!!