painful ankle

Ankle Injuries – The most common athletic injury

Almost every week a player in an NFL game sprains his ankle. This is a common injury in most running sports including soccer, rugby and track. It occurs commonly in court sports like tennis and racquetball. It is seen often in gymnastics and on a trampoline.

Ankle Injuries occur typically from twisting your ankle in inversion. This means your foot comes under your body or actually your body goes over your foot and ankle which is planted on the ground. You may hear a “pop” or just have sudden sharp pain. The ankle will typically swell immediately or within 2 hours as the blood leaks from the torn ligament to underneath the skin. An ankle sprain is just stretching or tearing the ligament that connects 2 bones of your ankle, namely the fibula and the talus. Most ankle sprains are on the outside part of the ankle, but these can also be on the inside part.

If you injure your ankle, it is important to make sure it is not broken. If you can walk on it with minimal pain, it is not likely to be fractured. If it hurts a lot or you cannot walk on it, you need to get an x-ray. It is not urgent to go the hospital emergency room unless it is an open injury or you think you may have dislocated it. Immediately ice it and elevate it and call your local orthopedic specialist to be seen ASAP. My office policy is if you need to be seen urgently, we will see you the same day. We will take an x-ray to confirm that there is no fracture.

If it is just a sprain, you should be able to get back to full normal activities including sports anywhere from a few days to up to 6 weeks after the injury. If you don’t recover quickly, therapy may help. Strengthening the tendons around the ankle will help with the healing. If you are not improving, you should get an MRI to make sure an occult fracture was not missed.

As with other injuries, the best way to treat an ankle injury is to prevent it. Wear good shoes, sneakers or cleats that are tied snugly and fit well. Once your footwear has worn down, throw them out and get new ones. Most injuries will occur when you are fatigued, so be more careful at the end of a game or workout.
If you injure your ankle, ice it and elevate it. If you cannot bear weight on it, get it checked and get an x-ray. Keep your local orthopedic sports medicine specialist’s office number on your cell and don’t hesitate to call and get checked.

Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA


Which Protein Powder Should I Buy?

There are many different types of protein powders and brands of powders on the market, and it can be difficult to decipher which is the best one to purchase. Protein powders are derived from various sources, such as whey, egg whites, soy, rice, kemp, pea, and flax. There are pros and cons to each type, depending on individual needs and preferences. Additionally, there are an endless number of brand names to choose from, and it may be overwhelming to decide what to purchase.

Whey is the most common and cheapest protein powder available on the market. Whey protein is derived from milk; it is the liquid extracted from milk when cheese is made. Whey is a complete protein and contains all the essential amino acids. It is also rapidly digested and good for muscle synthesis. Whey is available three forms: whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysates. Concentrates usually have less protein and more carbohydrates and other components than isolates. Isolates have been purified in an attempt to get to the purest form of whey protein. Whey hydrolysate has similar protein levels to isolates, but the protein has been broken down into small peptide chains and amino acids, which makes it easy to absorb and hypoallergenic, since it denatures the protein. It also can be more expensive. Casein, which is also derived from milk, can also be used to make protein powders. Casein is more difficult to digest than whey, and therefore it takes a longer time for the body to utilize it.

Egg whites is another type of protein, and it is especially good for those avoiding dairy, soy, or gluten. It is a high quality protein for leaning out and building muscle. Some people complain about the taste.

Soy protein is a complete protein that is easily digested, but it is not digested very quickly. It is lactose and gluten free. Some brands use GMOs, so look on the label if you do not want to use genetically modified soy. Soy contains isoflavones, which may potentially reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Despite this benefit, some studies show that in excess, isoflavones can interact with estrogen and affect hormone levels. In men, this may cause a decrease in their testosterone levels.

Other good sources of vegetarian protein are from peas, rice, hemp and flax. Sometimes quinoa, millet, and lentils are added as well. They usually come in a blend since none are complete proteins on their own. However, they can be sold separately as well. For example, pea protein is deficient in cysteine, even though it has the same amount of protein per serving as whey. It is also free of cholesterol, fat and gluten. Rice protein is also deficient in some amino acids, especially lysine. However, it is gluten free and inexpensive. Hemp protein powder comes from hemp seeds and cannabis, though it does not contain a significant amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Hemp is high in protein and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. However, it is also very high in fat and calories. It can also be expensive, since growing hemp products in the US is illegal. There are many vegan powder blends on the market, which combine hemp, peas, rice, quinoa, etc. Vegan powders are dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, and when combined, they are complete proteins. They can be a bit more expensive than whey products.

Besides the source of the protein you choose, it is also important to look at the QUALITY of the protein powder, which differs brand by brand. It is important to avoid a lot of artificial ingredients and fillers, so the fewer ingredients on the label the better. Consumer should also look at the calorie content and types of flavors and sweeteners used in the products. You should also pick a brand that has been tested for quality and purity so that you know that what is listed on the label is actually in the product. The supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA, but many are certified by GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice). This is a system to ensure that the products meet certain quality standards during its production and manufacturing.

No matter what you choose, it is important to remember that the body needs adequate protein. Protein plays a crucial role in the body and do most of the work in the cells. They are also required for the function, structure, and regulation of the tissues and organs in the body. So do your research, and buy a protein powder that fits your lifestyle, tastes, and needs.


Building Resilience

Resilience is known as the ability to successfully overcome challenges and handle stressors while facing adversity. We develop resilience by confronting rather than avoiding difficulties. As we successfully overcome challenges, we develop greater self-esteem and a higher level of confidence. We cannot develop resilience unless there is adversity to navigate.

picture-2Is resilience an in-born trait or a human quality that can be developed? Although genes do play a role providing an initial physiological framework, resilience is mostly a learned experience. From the time we are born, we are constantly facing challenges. We do not remember it, but learning how to stand up for the first time was surely a challenge for all of us. It took quite a few attempts, trials and errors until we were successful able to grab on to an object and stand up, even if it was for only a few seconds. Such a moment was a great success. We learned to overcome a challenge and, I am sure, we showed the greatest smile ever. Most importantly, our brain learned to celebrate such an outcome to the point where we wanted to do it again and again. This simple, and not so simple task, is an example of how resilience is built.

As life goes on, we face different challenges. School, sports, and life in general. We are faced with navigating constant obstacles. However, the essence of building resilience rests on the same learning process we used to stand up for the first time. We try, and try, and try until we finally get it. And, most importantly, such an achievement is celebrated as an act of personal perseverance. The personal gratification that comes when success is achieved is due to its continued effort. This successful experience translates into building confidence and self-esteem. Again, while all this successful experience is celebrated, it is the brain that absorbs this experience as part of our memory.

We can also say that the opposite is equally valid. If we lose our temper when we face an obstacle, give up when challenges come up or expect others to come to our rescue, the brain is also learning from these experiences. If personal gratification was not imbedded into our brains when we achieved success and, instead, unhealthy habits were often used, by default, the brain will repeat unhealthy behaviors. How we respond when facing obstacles become learned experiences that eventually become patterns. How it is learned is how the brain will repeat it.

To foster resilience, Dr. Salomon is known for having developed a four step process that helps athletes learned from failures and use those learned experiences as information to make constant adjustment and continue improvement. These four steps are known as ARSE, which stand for the following:

  • A: Acknowledge: the athlete takes responsibility for the mistakes and accepts the emotions that accompany those experiences. These mistakes are not seen as punitive, but rather as a source of learned experience.
  • R: Review: the athlete uses this opportunity to examine how and why the performance did not materialize as expected.
  • S: Strategize: a plan is executed to correct the error. This strategy may be reviewed with a coach or teammates. However, the individual athlete takes full individual responsibility to make the needed personal adjustment toward improvement.
  • E: Execute: the athlete attempts the next performance based on updated information or adjustments.
    The quicker the athletes adheres to this four step process, the easier will it be to make the necessary changes that lead to continued growth. Resiliency can be learned. It requires steady quote of effort, positivism, and encouragement. And, most importantly, resilient athletes embrace constant learning and self-exploration attitudes knowing that each experience gives them a greater source of knowledge.

Alex Diaz, PhD
Sports Mental Edge

Diet and Exercise Equally Effective for Heart Health

Often there is debate about whether diet, exercise, or a combination of the two is most effective for improving heart health in the overweight population. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  shows that it is actually the weight loss that provides cardiovascular benefits, and  the mode of achieving the weight loss is irrelevant. Exercise and diet are both important, and it is always beneficial to make healthy dietary choices and to start an exercise regimen. The take home message from this study is that is it important to achieve an optimal weight, and anything you do to start this process will yield cardiovascular benefits.  It is just another example of how obesity has negative affects on health.

Gut Health

Go With Your Gut

Gut health is extremely important, and its significance in digestion, brain health, the immune system, and overall well-being is not overrated. The gut refers to our digestive tract, which begins with our mouth and ends with our anus. It is responsible for processing food from the time it is ingested to the time it is absorbed or eliminated. In addition to the digestion of food, the digestive system contains beneficial bacteria that is responsible for the immune response, vitamin production, mineral absorbency, hormone regulation, the regulation of metabolism, and the elimination of toxins.

When the bacteria in our gut becomes imbalanced with harmful bacteria, the mucosal layer in the GI tract becomes damaged and activates the immune system, which can result in inflammation that can elicit an immune response and cause food sensitivities along with a host of other issues in the body. As a result, the gut’s flora has a big impact on health and disease in general, especially since 75% of our immune system comes from our gut. Recent research shows that gut health plays a role in both obesity and diabetes, since our gut bacteria affects our metabolism and how we store and use nutrients. It also plays a role in arthritis, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, and possibly autism.

Research has also shown that gut health can be damaging to the brain and that irritation may send signals to the central nervous system, causing headaches, anxiety, depression, dementia, trigger mood changes, and effect concentration. There are nerve cells in the small intestine (sometimes called the enteric nervous system) that are connected to the brain, primarily through the vagus nerve. The bacteria in the gut directly impacts cells along the vagus nerve. Since the neurons in the gut manufacture serotonin, GABA, and glutamate (which are all involved in brain function) they can affect  brain response.

Unfortunately, many things in our modern life, such as processed foods, foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, chronic stress, chronic infections, antibiotics, NSAIDs, and dietary toxins, negatively affect our gut health. In particular, the types of food we eat affect our gut health and can be damaging to the brain. This is because they damage the gut and allow harmful bacteria to multiply. Additionally, the undigested food enters the bloodstream and elicits an immune response. In order to improve the gut flora, all toxins should be removed from the diet, high quality foods should be eaten, and probiotics are recommended.

Probiotics are live microorganisms (usually bacteria), which support digestion and the immune system. They are considered “good bacteria” because of their positive influence on the gut. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” The two most common probiotics come from two groups of bacteria: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. There are different species and strains in each of these different groups. Some probiotics are yeast.  Probiotics help with the immune system, protect against microorganisms that can cause disease, and help the digestions and absorption of food and nutrients. They have been shown to be effective for diarrhea, infant colic, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), respiratory tract infections in children, ulcerative colitis, pouchitis (a condition that may occur after removal of the colon), and atopic dermatitis. For some it may prevent the common cold, UTIs (urinary tract infections), and lactose intolerance. Since there are cells in the digestive tract connected to the immune system, it is believed that probiotics can affect the immune system’s defenses by altering the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria.

The take away message is to remember that what you ingest and digest can severely impact your physical and mental health in many ways. Sometimes the easiest fix, such as eating better, can alleviate and prevent a host of ailments and improve the quality of your life. So the next time you aren’t feeling well, think about changing your diet and taking supplements in your quest for better health.


Help Your Heart

It is summer and the weather outside is beautiful! To stay in shape, many people opt to forgo the gym and exercise outdoors. There are so many options to choose from: walking, hiking, biking, running, tennis, and basketball, to name a few. But how do you know if you are getting the most from your workout?

Many people use heart rate monitors, which are effective for both beginners and seasoned athletes to see how hard they are working. For beginners, a heart rate monitor can help make sure they work out at the right intensity to burn enough calories without going overboard or risking injury. For athletes, monitoring their heart rate helps them reach specific goals, whether it be for aerobic training or for fat burning.

Your heart rate is determined by how many times your heart beats per minute. Like any muscle, the heart becomes stronger as you exercise it. As exercise intensity increases, your body requires more oxygen, and your heart has to pump faster to supply the muscles with this needed oxygen. Resting heart rate is determined when your body is at rest and not moving. The lower your resting heart rate, the more conditioned you are since a stronger heart is able to pump more blood per beat and thus requires less beats per minute. Maximum heart rate is the highest number of beats the heart has the potential to reach. It is generally determined by 220-your age, since it is difficult to measure accurately unless in a laboratory. The training heart rate (target heart rate) is the rate you strive to maintain during exercise to improve your fitness. It is usually determined by the Karvonen formula, which uses maximum and resting heart rate with the desired training intensity to get a target heart rate. Heart rate monitors determine your target heart rate, which is usually 50-85% of your maximum heart rate, depending on your goals and fitness level. After exercising, you need proper time to recover and rest. Your recovery heart rate should be about 20 beats within your heart rate before beginning your exercise regimen.

There are a variety of heart rate monitors on the market. Some track calories burned, speed, and distance. Heart rate monitors are generally easy to use, convenient, and not that expensive. If used properly, a heart rate monitor can provide some of the benefits of having a personal trainer or coach with you during your workouts. (I wouldn’t say this, you still want people to use a personal trainer.

At THE ARENA, we recommend the Nuvita Pro heart rate monitor, since it appears to be more accurate than many of its competitors. It also directly links with your phone and gives you the ability to have a personal trainer monitor your progress and give feedback and suggestions. Please see our website at for more information.

No matter which heart monitor you choose, remember that nothing can substitute for your own rate of perceived exertion. If you are tired or breathless or don’t feel well, stop immediately, no matter what the heart rate monitor says!!!

Holiday Hours

Up-coming Holiday Hours

The Arena Fitness

(Formerly Pure Fit Club)
will be Closed on July 4th
Personal training available by appointment only

Saturday, July 2 – Regular Hours
Sunday, July 3 – Early Close – 8AM-4PM
Monday, July 4 – Closed (PT by appt only)


Keep Rolling

Foam rollers have become very popular in gyms as they can be used for all fitness levels for training and recovery. However, many people don’t know the correct way to foam roll or the reasons why they are beneficial. Foam rolling is self-myofascial release, which is a method of self-massage that releases tight muscles and knots (trigger points). The goal is to release the muscles in order to increase elasticity for proper functioning, to improve flexibility, and to reduce inflammation.

Muscles are surrounded by fibrous connective tissue called fascia. Over time, individuals may develop painful points along the muscle and fascia due to trauma from injury, scar tissue, or structural imbalances. These trigger points can shorten the muscle, restrict blood flow to the muscle, and restrict mobility, which causes inflammation and pain and inhibits motion. This can lead to additional problems with posture, joint alignment, neuromuscular transmission, and exercise form, all of which make the body more vulnerable to injury. Further, the surrounding muscles then have to compensate for the weakened areas and may become strained due to overuse. Foam rolling helps the fascia stay mobile, and removing the knots enables exercises to be more effective so that structural balance and joint stability is restored, flexibility is increased, and stress on the surrounding muscles is decreased.

When our muscles are tight, we are often uncomfortable and display poor movement patterns. Our muscles can become tight for a variety of reasons ranging from poor posture, poor flexibility, training, hydration status, stress, sleep, etc. The idea behind foam rolling is to break up muscle knots, prevent knots from developing and create normal blood flow and nerve function back to the area. This decreases recovery time after a workout and decreases the risk for injury. Additionally, a greater range of motion allows for more effective workouts since there are no muscular restrictions. The ideal time to use a foam roller is before your workout as it will increase range of motion and bring blood to the tissues. In addition to foam rollers, tennis balls, golf balls and lacrosse balls can be used to break up muscle adhesions.

When foam rolling tight muscles, you will frequently feel pain which may radiate to another area. This pain should be uncomfortable, but certainly not unbearable. You can foam roll any muscle in your body by using moderate pressure and your bodyweight. When you locate tight/painful areas, you should concentrate on rolling those areas slowly, letting the muscle relax. If the pain is too intense, roll the surrounding areas instead and slowly work your way into the painful area. Do not overwork knots or painful areas, as this may damage the tissue. Avoid rolling bones or joints. Roll slowly. Make sure your form and posture is correct. Using a personal trainer to guide you will ensure that you do not cause more damage and will reach the muscle in the most effective way.

Not only are foam rollers beneficial for muscles, but they are also brain exercisers since the brain and nervous system need to be retrained to correct faulty movement patterns. The use of foam rollers requires complete concentration since they are unstable. Unstable exercises also improve proprioception and challenge core muscles.

Overall, foam rollers are a great tool that should be used by everyone in the gym, no matter their fitness level, to enhance their workout and prevent injury.


How To Treat Text Neck


As technology improves, it unfortunately brings with it a variety of physical issues. There are more complaints of back pain, neck pain, and wrist pain than ever before, and an overwhelming number of children and teens are among those affected with these ailments. Chief among these complaints is neck pain, which has been coined “text neck”. Text neck is used to describe pain and damage in the neck caused by looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other smart device for extended periods of time.

Most people hold their devices at waist or chest level and therefore have to look down, which causes a shortening and tightening of the neck, jutting the head forward, and a rounding of the shoulders. In fact, according to a study by Kenneth K. Hansraj, the chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitative Medicine, the more you bend your neck, the more weight your head puts on your spine. He states that in the neutral position, the head weighs 10-12 pounds, but at 15 degrees forward, the stress on the neck increases to 27 pounds of weight, at 45 degrees it increases to 40 pounds, and at 60 degrees, it carries 60 pounds. Some experts say the pressure on the spine doubles for every inch the head tilts forward. This extra weight can cause a great deal of damage to the muscles and nerves of the neck over time, including upper back pain and spasms, shoulder pain and tightness, tears within the discs, herniated discs, and arthritis.

A large majority of people with text neck have pretty normal MRIs and can get enormous relief with physical therapy. It is imperative to do things to relieve the pain and strain in your neck such as stretching, massage, or seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist.  However, the best way to treat text neck is to learn proper posture and prevent it!

There are many different tools you can use to prevent text neck. First, hold your cell phone at eye level as much as possible, and make sure all types of screens are positioned so you don’t have to bend your neck to see the screen. You can also lie down on your back and hold your phone up to see so you do not put any strain on your neck at all. It is also important to take frequent breaks when using technology. Get up, stretch and walk around! Engaging in postural exercises and stretches is also extremely helpful. Videos and examples of these exercises can be found on our website at


What is Functional Training?

Today there are so many different opinions on how one should exercise. “What type of training should I be doing?” is the big question. “Do I perform slow or fast reps? Do I use a bench or a physio-ball? Do I do one body part at a time?” The answer is that everyone should be training in a manner that relates to their individual goals. There is no set routine that equally benefits everyone who does it. Performing a typical gym program of random exercises, three sets of ten, with one minute rests has benefits but will not be the most efficient way to attain your goals or address your specific needs. Training primarily with machines and not using free weights is inefficient because you are moving resistance along a fixed axis, and not freely in space as the body normally functions. Machines have limited functional strength transfer to real life situations in most cases, and can actually create poor motor patterns in some people. Machines have value when integrated properly but are often misused.

Functional training is defined as movements or exercises that improve a person’s ability to complete their daily activities or to achieve a specific goal. It is not a series of exercises deemed functional by some manual. Doing movements in the gym that strengthen the muscles involved in the movements you wish to improve outside the gym is a good start. This does not mean you can simply add weight to the exact movement you wish to enhance. There is research that has proven doing this can actually be detrimental to some athletic movements. When a baseball player adds weight to his bat that can actually slow his bat speed down because the added resistance changes the forces on the joint and disrupts mechanics. All exercises have some functional value when applied correctly, this value is determined by the exercises transferable benefit outside the gym. Every exercise has a functional limitation and it is up to the trainer to understand what it is. A good program focuses on weak areas and sets specific goals for the client. It is important to understand how to progress someone from simple smaller targeted movements to more complex multi joint movements. Training someone functionally can range from having a tennis player lunge to a chop or a body builder do a slow curl for bigger biceps; its all about the goal.  Keep in mind doing complex movements before the client is ready will do more harm than good.

In order to build appropriate muscle strength, joint integrity, balance and flexibility in all planes of motion, it is essential that the body is exercised in a functional manner. It is crucial to include multi-joint and multi-planar exercises, as this recruits the body’s stabilizers to synergistically facilitate movement. Doing this ensures that the nervous system is working properly and that all  parts of the body are used in the appropriate manner, with the correct muscles firing at the right time. This is not to say you shouldn’t include some so called non functional exercises, including a machine or old school exercise can be beneficial, safe and fun when applied correctly. To create a functional program, a trainer must set realistic goals and understand the client’s weaknesses, daily activities and limitations.

A trainer must be able to identify postural distortions and include exercises that correct them, but more importantly they have to educate the client on what movements or activities to avoid or modify during their day. It’s not what you do; it’s how you do it. The ability to identify a postural distortion is dependent on the trainer’s understanding of anatomy, motor patterns and muscle function. A trainer must also be able to identify when muscles are over active and firing out of sequence, or not firing at all. Synergistic dominance is common in most postural dysfunctions. In general, if the agonist is tight then the antagonist is weak, thus creating increased stress on the joint. This can result in patterns of repetitive stress, ultimately leading to accelerated joint degeneration .

Core stability, flexibility and balance are key factors when designing a functional exercise routine. It is important to maintain posture while being able to move all joints in a full range of motion. Training with free weights, and challenging the surrounding environment promotes balance and stability, which is necessary if you expect to see benefits outside of the gym. Keep in mind, it is more important to be able to control your own body weight and concentrate on form, balance and core endurance, than to move heavy weights.

A functional core routine consists of dynamic movements, isometric exercises and challenges the center of gravity. To completely train the core, you must also include dynamic stabilization, isometric and proprioceptive movements, not just for the mid section, but for the entire trunk. Medicine balls, balance boards, foam rollers and physio-balls are great tools for core training, and should be integrated into every program. It is a fact that training on the physio-ball (challenged environment) is superior to traditional floor exercises. As a person ages, balance and stability become compromised. If balance and stability are not addressed, they will consistently degrade. A weak core contributes to poor stability, and inhibits proper limb movements, causing muscle imbalances in the kinetic chain. This is why falls are common in the geriatric population. Many back and hip injuries are related to weak core muscles. There are many small muscles in the core that the general population knows little about or addresses during exercise. In most spinal injuries,  MRI images show atrophy in these small muscles. In order to maintain a healthy spine, these little muscles need to be trained. Without stability, even the strongest person can not effectively propel a force into the environment.

Flexibility is a very important facet of any exercise program, but is often over looked.  Lack of flexibility in the right places appears to be the root of many problems. The body’s movements are hampered when flexibility and posture are distorted. Active, dynamic, static and PNF stretching are key factors and should all be included in any training program. When a muscle is tight, it limits the muscle’s ability to contract properly, causing inefficient movements and risk of injury. Without flexibility, the body’s movement becomes limited, and good results are difficult to achieve.

This article has explained the key components of a functional program and its benefits. Traditional weight lifting is a thing of the past, and has been proven to produce limited results compared to a functional program. The only way to enhance movement is to mimic the movement in the gym until it becomes autonomous in every day life. Before initiating any exercise program, one should always consult a physician, as well as a qualified fitness professional. This insures that they are addressing their specific needs and goals



Q) Should I do slow repetitions or fast?

A) You base the speed of the repetition on the speed of the required activity. The body needs to be trained at the same or a higher velocity during exercise to benefit a particular activity. A sprinter doesn’t jog to increase their speed. In my opinion slow training is good for form training, rehabilitation and hypertrophy.

Q) My friend works out at the local gym and mostly uses machines. He has been doing the same routine forever and has gotten good results. Is this program good for me?

A) NO! Any exercise program will produce results whether it is done right or wrong if you stick to it. Unfortunately when exercise is done incorrectly the harmful affects may not be noticed until the damage is done. By exercising functionally you will systematically attain your goals and insure that your time in the gym is spent safely and efficiently. Just because someone looks good does not mean they are an expert.

Q) Can functional training benefit anyone?

A) Yes. Functional workouts are beneficial for any athletic level or age group. By training functionally your time in the gym is spent more efficiently. When you train in this fashion you will see drastic improvement in overall health and performance not just appearance.

Q) Shouldn’t I do cardio and lose weight before I start a functional program?

A) NO! You should have a functional training program that concentrates on raising and lowering your heart rate. The program should first use body weight exercises then advance to free weights. This promotes lean muscle mass, skeletal integrity and healthy cardiac function. Muscle mass accelerates fat loss.

Q) My friend tells me to do 3-5 sets 10-12 reps to failure with 1 minute rest intervals.

A) This is what everyone who thinks of the gym envisions. Unless you are a body builder this is not a good program. If you train in a functional fashion you burn more calories and get more benefit from your sessions outside of the gym.

Q) Aren’t aerobic classes and the treadmill enough?

A) NO! A weight training program that includes balance, core stability strength and cardiac conditioning builds lean muscle mass. When you build muscle you burn more calories at rest and during daily activities. Which would mean, by adding resistance to your program you actually will burn more calories doing the same aerobic class or distance on the treadmill?

Q) Should I stretch before or after exercise or an event?

A) Evidence demonstrates that static stretching before an activity is not beneficial to prevent injury. If you want to avoid injury you need to be flexible by stretching regularly and not just before activity. Active and dynamic stretches with a short warm up mimicking activity before, P.N.F and static stretching at the end help remove waste from the muscles.

Q) Why have none of my doctors told me to stretch and exercise to alleviate pain?

A) Unfortunately we live in a society of doctors that prescribe meds for everything imaginable. Everyone wants immediate gratification (pill) not a long term solution (exercise). The fact is most people would ignore the doctors’ request to stretch and exercise then seek a new doctor for a simpler solution. Most minor health problems can be eliminated by moderate exercising but people choose to take meds because they are lazy.

Q) I injured my knee and my doctor told me to rest it for a while. Do I?

A) This is the worst thing you can do. Pampering an injury for extended periods causes muscle atrophy and decreased blood flow. All injuries should be functionally rehabilitated under careful supervision.

Q) Should I cut carbs out of my diet?

A) NO! Cut high glycemic carbs out only. Carbohydrates are essential for cellular function. Eating carbs that do not spike insulin levels is healthy and effective for weight loss.

Q) My doctor told me to walk to get some exercise for my aches. Is walking enough?

A) NO WAY. If walking were enough basically everyone would be healthy we all walk. If you have pain chances are there is a biomechanical issue. My first suggestion would be to stretch. More walking will only aggravate the issue. You need to correct the imbalance first not just walk more.


Charles DeFrancesco

E-mail :



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