Some fats are good

I’m going to use to post to talk about fats. Specifically one type of fat: Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, meaning you have to consume it because your body can’t make it on its own. Foods that are rich in fatty acids include: fish, nut oils, flax, soy, pumpkin, walnuts, perilla, etc.

Research has shown the omega-3 fatty acids can help counter many chronic diseases:

  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood pressure
  • Heart disease: clinical evidence for the role of omega-3 fatty acids in preventing heart disease is very well established. Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent atherosclerosis (plaque formation in your arteries)
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Cancer: breast, colon, prostate

Researchers are conducting ongoing studies into the benefits of omega-3. There may be even more benefits than whats listed here. I hope I’ve convinced you on the importance of this fat.


Self-myofascial release


Please check out this article series. It is a great article explaining what mysofascial release is and how it works.

Exercise and Aging

There are certain things that happen to our bodies as we age:

  1. decrease in muscle size and strength
  2. decrease bone mass (therefore increase risk of fracture)
  3. decrease in tendon strength (increase risk of tendinopathy and ruptures)
  4. decrease in flexibility
  5. decrease in cardiovascular fitness (decreased maximum heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output)
  6. decrease in functional volume of the lungs
  7. increase in body fat percentage

The good news is that many of these things can be attenuated with exercise or living an active lifestyle. By maintaining our bodies as we age, we can preserve our quality of lives.

The graph below shows how untrained individuals (UT) will have a steeper decline in fitness compared to highly trained (HT). This speaks to the importance of staying active, not only when you’re you;re young or old, but across the entire lifespan.

Overuse injuries in youth: part I

A few injuries to look out for in children, especially those involved in early specialization and/or competitive sports.

Osgood-Schlatter’s disease: common in children 9-16, during growth. It occurs when the patellar tendon pulls on the tibial tubercle due to quad contractions. It can result in the tendon pulling off part of the bone (avulsion fracture)

Sever’s disease: analogous to Osgood-Schlatter’s but instead of the knee, occurs at the heel. The Achilles tendon pulls on the calcaneal tuberosity (heel bone)

Little league elbow: due to repetitive throwing motion in throwing sports. Can cause damage to the growth plate around the elbow joint.

Overtraining syndrome: a complex, debilitating condition which involves physical and mental components. Often results in decreased performance and or perceptions of fatigue. This condition may be very difficult to recognize. It occurs when the body’s rate of recovery can’t keep up with the stress of exercise.

Stress fractures: repetitive stress to weight bearing bones (i.e. tibia, fibia) can cause micro fractures. Common in sports with lots of running and jumping.

Stay tuned for prevention and treatment advice in part II

Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness: a second look

Stretching to prevent soreness: this is so widely known that its almost common sense. But does it really? I recently read a review article regarding this exact question. A review article is basically one report that sums up  and compares a bunch of other studies regarding a certain topic. You can find the article here. But to sum it up briefly, the authors conclude that there is little to no effect on the muscle soreness experienced after physical activity.

Does this mean there’s no point in stretching? Well no. First off the research which the article was based on was not very strong or well controlled to start with. Just because science can’t (yet) prove something,doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It’s also hard to trump years of anecdotal experience regarding stretching. My advice is to keep stretching as part of your exercise routine. If it doesn’t help with reducing muscle soreness, at least you still get the flexibility and mobility benefits.

Compression garments

Compression gear (such as the shorts pictured below) are offers by almost all sports apparel companies these days. Lets take a look at the claims: 1) increased power production and 2) increased recovery. I did a quick literature search and heres what I found:
Duffield (2007): tested 3 companies (Adidas, Skins, Under Armour) found no power increase. However, found decreased post-exercise ratings of muscle soreness.

Duffield (2008): tested compression garments on intermittent sprint performance. No improvements in performance were found. No improvements in recovery were found based on objective measures. However, there was a significant decreased in self-reported muscle soreness 24hr post exercise.

Scanlan et al (2008): this study looked at 1 hour time trial performances in well trained cyclists. Unlike the studies above, this one looked at an endurance based activity. Again, compression shorts showed no difference in performance, based on oxygen consumption and other objective physiological measures.

Duffield (2010): this study focused on recovery after high intensity sprinting and plyometric exercise. Long story short, the findings were similar to previous studies done by Duffield et al. The compression garments had minimal effect on recovery, though they may be a perceived benefit.

There are quite a few more studies on compression garments, but glancing through their abstracts, they all seem to report results similar to the ones above. So heres the take home message:

  1. -compression clothing will unlikely improve performance, in either power or endurance sports
  2. -they probably don’t help with recovery
  3. -they could, however, decrease your perception of muscle soreness after intense workouts

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines Continued

Here are more guidelines that are age specific

0-4 years

5-11 years

12-17 years


Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines: 18-64y

For those of you thinking of starting a new exercise regime, these guidelines is a good place to start.

FYI: these guidelines are meant to be for health related fitness benefits, and not necessarily weight loss. Research has shown that to lose weight, you would have to go beyond these guidelines.

Strength training for individuals with cerebral palsy

I recently read a systematic review article about the efficacy of strength training for individuals with CP.

Basically, after reviewing multiple studies, the authors conclude that:

1) there is evidence that supports weight lifting to increase strength in both children and adults with CP

2) there appears to be no increased spasticity with strength training

The evidence is not clear enough to form evidence based recommendations for strength training just yet. But the authors do advocate balance and coordination exercises  in addition to strength training exercises in order to improve mobility and functional movement skills.

Here’s a link to the article:


The new PAR-Q+

Remember the PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire)? Most fitness centres required you to fill out the PAR-Q in order to clear you for physical activity. Unfortunately the PAR-Q was overly conservative. For example, individuals with chronic conditions would automatically be excluded from exercise. In fact, the Par-Q wasn’t really that well supported by research.

The new PAR-Q+ uses a new risk stratification strategy to identify any potential restrictions to exercise. Individuals with chronic conditions can now potentially clear themselves for exercise. The best part is, the PAR-Q+ is actually evidence based, meaning it is backed by strong research.

If you were ever screened out of physical activity by the PAR-Q, please take a look at the PAR-Q+. You may be more ready for exercise than you think!

Click below to see the PAR-Q+ form: