Oct 20, 2012

From time to time whether your getting back into shape, training on your own without routine coaching, or simply older, paying attention to technique serves two important functions. First it reduces the amount of effort you expend to propel yourself across the same distance and second it reduces and likely prevents injury from repetitive over use.

Cross training both in the gym and in the water yourself or at camps like Ned Denison's Irish total swim confusion camp can solve these challenges. But if you cant make it to Ireland simply engage with your coach or a respected swimming friend to devise a cross training activity including core, in water, out of water, cold water, wavy conditions. 


Around every major joint are multiple bursae, which act as cushioning pads. These pads help reduce friction in the shoulder to allow movement. During musculoskeletal injuries these bursae commonly become inflamed. This inflammation is known as bursitis which is caused by either excessive rubbing or irritation that can be caused by a variety of structures (for example the rotator cuff tendons).

Many adaptations occur during an injury, most notably inflammation occurs. Lets discuss an inflamed bursae:


As stated, around every major joint are multiple bursae, which act as cushioning pads. Unfortunately, when a muscle is too tight or has inadequate timing, the shoulder can get “sloppy”, cause slight subluxations, and irritate the bursae. Once the bursae are enlarged, the rotator cuff tendons have less room to move and impingement can arise. This is an unfortunate combination of muscular irritation and inflammation.

Now improving bursitis depends on the clinical presentation of the swimmer. If inflammation is driving the pain, resolving inflammation is the most likely road for success. 

Here is an example of my sloppy technique after about 7 hours in Tampa Bay.
If altered movement patterns are the resulting cause of pain, then it is essential to improve these areas. In most cases, inflammation and mechanical adaptations (impaired muscle length, strength, and timing) are the drivers of pain, but pain is rarely this clear cut. This makes a combined treatment with medical professionals essential, as improving one of this areas is neglecting complete resolution and prevention. Make sure if you are addressing shoulder pain, that you assess the clinical presentation and seek complete resolution of pain, as pain will alter movement patterns, result in weakness, and impair swimming performance.

For more on shoulder pain, consider these pieces:
10 Minute Solution: Shoulder Pain
10 Minute Solution: Shoulder Pain Part II
10 Minute Solution: Shoulder Pain Part III
Shoulder Pain? Protect Your Rotator Cuff Muscles

By G. John Mullen founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration, head strength coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.

Oct 17, 2012

Super size, super waste: What whopping portions do to the Planet and Us!

McDonald’s (and other's) has a pretty unsavory reputation when it comes to public health. Lately the company has taken some steps to improve its image, launching vegetarian restaurants in India and putting fresh apples into Happy Meals. But there’s something at the core of its business that has at least the potential to do some good for both our waistlines and a different kind of waste: our waste of food. McDonald’s offers flexible portions.
In american not only food content and additives but portion size is killing us, literally from within.
Walk through those golden arches and you have your choice of a cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, quarter pounder with cheese, or double quarter pounder with cheese. Chicken nuggets? Do you want four, six, nine, or 20? Fries with that or no? It’s choice, and we Americans love choice. But it also means only ordering (and only spending money on) the food we actually intend to eat.
Of course, simply providing choice is not the whole picture. How many people actually opt for the plain single hamburger when the double is just a few cents more expensive? Turns out, not many.
In 1955, McDonald’s introduced a new product line — french fries. The original portion weighed 2.4 ounces (and had 210 calories). Today, that product is known as a small order of french fries, and is normally overlooked for the super size, at 7.1 ounces (and 610 calories). What’s more, the largest order of french fries in the United States is a whopping 37 percent larger than the largest size available in the United Kingdom. That’s a lot of fried potato.
Consider how portion sizes of some other common foods have grown over the past 40 or so years:
  • The average chicken Caesar salad doubled in calories.
  • The average chocolate chip cookie quadrupled in calories.
  • Our plates have grown to hold all those portions, too. The surface area of the average dinner plate expanded by 36 percent between 1960 and 2007.
This has meant a lot of additional calories that we’re routinely eating but probably don’t need to be. But it’s also meant a pretty shocking increase in the amount of food we’re discarding. Today, we waste 50 percent more calories than we did in the ’70s. The average American today wastes 10 times as much food as their counterpart in Southeast Asia.
Food waste is a complex issue with many drivers, but ever-expanding portion sizes are undoubtedly one of them. But while much attention has been paid to the resulting impacts on obesity, there has been relatively less focus on the ways in which increased portion sizes have contributed to the growing amount of food that gets wasted.
“Plate waste,” the food left on the plate after a meal is finished, is a significant contributor to food waste in restaurants. On average, diners leave 17 percent of meals uneaten, and 55 percent of these potential leftovers are not taken home. At the heart of the problem is the fact that for restaurants and cafeterias, food costs represent a relatively low portion of operating costs when compared to things like labor and rent. Put simply, they need to make a certain amount of money per customer to stay afloat, and since throwing more food on the plate makes the value go up in most people’s eyes, that’s exactly what they do. From a business perspective, this makes perfect sense. From a social or environmental perspective, the costs are pretty staggering.
Consider that we use 50 percent of our land and 80 percent of our fresh water every year to grow food, 40 percent of which never gets eaten. That’s a lot of resources going to waste. And when that wasted food ends up in landfills, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to global warming. Consider also that this is all happening at a time when one in six Americans today is food insecure, meaning that at any given time, they might not have the means to get enough food. Just a 15 percent reduction in food waste could free up enough food to feed 25 million people.
And it’s not just restaurants.
Homes are not exempt from the large-portion trend. The Cornell Food and Brand Lab reports that serving sizes in the Joy of Cooking cookbook have increased 33.2 percent since 1996 alone. That is, a recipe that used to “serve 10” now “serves seven” (or the ingredient amounts are greater for the same number of servings). In some cases, this leads to overeating. In others, it simply leads to extra food that ends up in the trash.
So what’s the fix? Well, for starters, more restaurants can take a page from McDonald’s book and start offering half orders and a la carte options. Popular restaurants and cafes like T.G.I. Friday’s, Au Bon Pain, and Cheesecake Factory already offer smaller portion options. Now the rest of the industry should follow suit. Restaurants can also do away with “split plate” charges, which actually penalize customers for only ordering what they’ll eat and eating what they order.
For McDonald’s part, offering a small portion but highly incentivizing purchase of something twice the size is still problematic. If the restaurant is going to truly be a partner in this public health crisis, it needs to use all its persuasive techniques to truly help people eat better, not just list the option on the menu.
As consumers, we should know that many restaurants offer half orders at a reduced price even if it’s not on the menu. And if they don’t, just take home the leftovers. And then remember to eat them. When you’re at home, be realistic about what you’ll eat, save leftovers, and consider replacing your plates. Simply switching to a smaller plate could mean eating fewer calories, bringing with it important health benefits and the potential to waste less food and save more money.
And to top it off, these processed foods are destroying our cardiovascular systemsBy Dana Gunders
Dana is a food and agriculture-focused project scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), based in San Francisco. She blogs regularly about food waste here

Oct 10, 2012

Nutrition: How Food And Clothing Size Labels Affect What We Eat And What We Wear

I found this analysis and commentary rather insightful recently as I asked for a grilled chicken sandwich and to my surprise found a monster gulp size drink being handed to me. I politely said you have got to be kidding, thats why Americans are exploding in size and dying from all sorts of diseases related to processed foods and huge servings. So take this article re-print for whats its worth and perhaps consider next time size really does matter...

When you go into a restaurant, you probably give some thought to whether you're ordering a small, regular or large sandwich.
That makes sense.With widening waistlines across the land, many of us want to make a health-conscious choice. But are we really getting a small portion when we order a small sandwich?
There's no industry standard size for food and drink portions, so it's hard to compare a Big Gulp with a McDonald's medium soda.
Article from H. Thompson & S. Vedantam
Well, that depends.
University of Michigan marketing professor Aradhna Krishna has studied how labels impact how much we eat. In one experiment, she gave people cookies that were labeled either medium or large, and then measured how much they ate.
The catch? The cookies were identical in size.

"Just because there's a different size label attached to the same actual quantity of food, people eat more. But also, [they] think they've not eaten as much," says Krishna.
What happened? You guessed it. People ate more cookies when they were labeled "medium." Rather than trust what their stomachs were telling them, in other words, people went by the label.
Krishna said the psychological principle at work has big ramifications because a 32-ounce soda at McDonald's is called a large soda, but the same drink at Wendy's is called a medium. A small coffee is 10 ounces at Dunkin' Donuts and 12 ounces at Caribou Coffee. When you trust labels, you could end up eating and drinking a lot more than you thought. Check out some visuals over at fastfoodmarketing.org.
Most Americans, moreover, don't realize the "large" soda they order today is about six times as large as the same soda 60 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Across the U.S., again what has happened is that food sizes have become larger over time," says Krishna. "So, that same hamburger has become bigger, the french fries have become bigger, and again this is leading to obesity."
Restaurants today can label food and drink as they please. But given the power of labels in shaping behavior, Krishna said that standardizing portion sizes across restaurants could have a bigger impact on public health than New York City's controversial recent ban on all sodas larger than 16 ounces at restaurants and other eateries.
"We're not talking about restrictions in terms of freedom in any way," she said. "All I'm saying is that sizes should be made more uniform, and that will only help the consumer because you'll know what you're getting."
Sticking labels on menus isn't the only way to influence what people eat. As we've reported before, eating off a smaller platecan cause people to overestimate the serving size they've received — and eat less. Drinking beer from a straight glass, rather than a curved one, makes people drink more slowly and better gauge how much they've had to drink.
Krishna said the phenomenon of labels' influencing consumer behavior isn't unique to food. So-called vanity sizing is rampant in the clothing industry. Marketers are relabeling large-size clothes as small to give customers the satisfaction of feeling that they still fit into small-size clothing.
"What used to be a size 8 in the 1950s has become a size 4 in the 1970s and a zero in 2006," Krishna said.
The New York Times

In another study, Krishna and her colleagues found that vanity sizing improved people's body image. Labels shape our experiences in both positive and negative ways.
Referring to different bust sizes among women in Asian countries and in the United States, Krishna argued that people often don't have control over their body size and shouldn't need to feel blame or shame for not conforming to society's ideals. "It's not a question of being lied to," she said. "It's a question of do you want to be lied to."
I guess I better just keep swimming...One Stroke At A Time