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Can Black People Get Lice


Can black people get lice? This might seem like a strange question to be asking, but I’m here to tell you, you are not the first nor the last person to be asking it. And, in some way, it seems like an entirely reasonable to ask this since there is a difference in the structure of the skin and hair between white and black people.

And if there is even a remote possibility to avoid those nasty, annoying itchiness, I don’t blame you for wanting to find it out.


First thing’s first, let’s talk about lice.

What Are They And How Do You Get Them?

Lice are parasites that can inhabit several areas around our body. They are parasites, meaning they need a host (in this case us) to survive. And the only way for them to survive is to suck the nutrient rich blood from our scalp.

It sounds scarier than it is but according to the Center For Disease Control, 6 to 12 million people get lice each year!

Based on their location, we can divide them into the following categories:

  • Body lice
  • Head liceand
  • Pubic lice

There is a common myth (especially amongst children) that dirty hair and poor personal hygiene causes lice. This is not true. However, poor personal hygiene is what leads to the lice outbreak; since lice are transferred from person to person through personal physical contact.

In addition to personal touch, lice can be spread by using the same comb, brush, headgear or sharing a pool with an “infected” individual.

Keep in mind that this parasite will not abandon its host without a fight, they are equipped with six claws designed to grab hold of its prey and don’t let go; they can even survive 8 hours under water (Source:Healthline)!

Appearance, Symptoms And Life Span

Unfortunately, the biggest problem with lice is that we can’t see them. The only thing we can see are the eggs. And the perfect time to strike is when they lay their eggs because you can quickly sweep most of them using a comb.

You can also get rid of the eggs by just cutting your hair, but make sure you get rid of the hair since lice can live on it for another day or two. So you are in the risk of contaminating yourself.

As for the symptoms, they can vary in severity:

  • Tickling
  • Itching – Itching is usually an allergic reaction to the bites
  • Sores – sores we cause by scratching and
  • Infection – as a result of intense scratching and irritation

And if you don’t do something about it, you will be a force to endure these symptoms for a very long time since lice can live (as long as they have food) up to 30 days! Not only that, a female can lay up to 6 eggs per day.

The Difference In The Skin Between White And Black People

We don’t mean to sound racist, but there are, indeed, differences between the skin of white and black people (aside from the obvious ones – skin color).

Here are some of the main differences:

  • The electrical resistance is higher with dark skin
  • The epidermis of black people contain less glutathione (powerful antioxidant capable of preventing damage to individual cellular components – Wikipedia)
  • Black people have larger melanosomes (pigment granules responsible for tissue color, storage, production and pigment transport – Journal Of Cell Science)
  • Lower PH is normal for black skin
  • Higher concentration of moisture is normal for black skin.

The Differences In Hair

We’ve already covered the differences in the skin, but not it’s time to talk a bit more about hair. There are also people who think black people can’t get lice because of the differences in the structure of their hair. But, is this true?

OK, the truth is black people can get lice, but they rarely do. There are many reasons for this; one is the presence of oil in the hair itself. We already said earlier that black skin contains a higher concentration of moisture, and their hair also contains more oil.

For this reason, lice can’t stay in such environment long and also have problems laying their eggs. The studies showed that white people are three times more likely to get lice when compared to the black population. Though these were scientific studies, they are not always conclusive and should not be taken for granted.

But the god thing about these studies is that they can rule out some common myths that have been circling. One of this myth is the difference in the shape of the hair allowing lice to attach more easily.

That being said, there are some factors which affect the appearance and the frequency of lice:

  • Location – Extensive research showed that lice are much more common in people in Africa when compared to those in Europe or the United States. A major flaw of this research is the existence of many other factors which can contribute to this lice outbreak, aside from the location itself
  • Hair length – this is where most researchers agree actually. They say that shorter hair is much more suitable for the development of lice. This bit of information is especially relevant when we know that younger African Americans tend to have shorter hair in the (early) childhood. So now the question is should you let your child grow longer hair just to reduce the possibility of getting lice? We’ll let you be the judge of that


The answer is they most certainly can! Despite these differences in skin and hair we’ve covered above, the underlying structure is the same and lice love it. All they need is a steady flow of blood and a good place to hide.

Can you prevent them from affecting you or your child? – You most certainly can! Make sure you take good care of your hygiene, check your hair once in a while (especially if you start experiencing itching or tingling) and try not to worry much.

How To Get Rid Of Lice?

What we’ve learned is that lice need a human host to survive. The only problem is, they spread quickly from one person to the next. This is why we need to act fast (as soon as we notice these tiny parasites).

And if you do get them, this is what you do:

  1. Avoid contact with people who do have lice – lice outbreak usually occurs in kindergarten so you should consider letting your child skip a few days.
  2. Shampoo – whether or not you decide to visit your doctor, you should get yourself a medicated shampoo designed to kill lice and its eggs. There are a number of these shampoos available on the market, so you are free to choose whichever you like.
  3. Vacuuming and washing – you should vacuum your furniture and carpets and wash clothing and bedding in hot water to kill the lice. You can also dry heat to make sure you killed them all!

Image 2 source: http://freshheadsliceremoval.com/facts-faq

17 Possible Causes Of Pain Around The Belly Button


Pain around the belly button is not something to be taken lightly, the pain of any kind for that matter. Of course, in most cases, the pain is benign, but there are cases when it can turn into something a bit more serious.

So if you find yourself experiencing pain in this region, you should seek out medical help just for the peace of mind; especially if your pain intensifies after common daily activities such as bending, leaning, stretching, running, playing sports or even sneezing.

In the following paragraphs, we will be discussing the nature of this type of pain, its most common causes and offer some actionable suggestions for treating it.

The Type Of Pain

One of the first things you need to take into consideration is the intensity of the pain itself. Does it increase when moving, and what movement causes the most intense pain? Also, is the pain sudden and intense or would you characterize it as mild and annoying? The exact location of pain is also incredibly important, and we will discuss it as we go over the most common causes.

Noting these little things and telling your doctor know might speed things up and help them make the correct diagnosis.

Facts On Pain Around The Belly Button

  • Health problems such as appendicitis, ulcers, and Chron’s disease can cause pain around the belly button.
  • Women can experience belly pain during pregnancy, due to menstrual cramps or as a result of an ovarian cyst.
  • This type of pain can also be present if a patient is suffering from urinary tract infection, has gallbladder problems or a stomach flu.
  • Pain around the belly button can also be caused by a benign condition such as constipation, food poisoning or a hernia.
  • Anyone taking medication can experience belly button pain due to its side effects. Also, this pain will often be present in those who undergone abdominal surgery.

1. Constipation

Constipation is a common condition, affecting people of all ages and both genders equally. Being constipated means, you can’t pass a stool regularly or be unable to empty your bowel completely. Medically speaking, constipation is “diagnosed” when a person has three or fewer bowel movements per week.

You will also notice some changes in your stool, it will become hard, lumpy, unusually small or large, and may smell bad.

Fortunately, people experience acute constipation(a short lasting constipation); but there are those who are suffering from chronic constipation as well. Chronic constipation can cause significant pain, discomfort and affect your life in a negative way.

What Causes Constipation?

In most cases, being constipated means there is something wrong with your diet:

  • You are not eating enough fiber – fruits and vegetables
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Resisting the urge to pass a stool may also cause this problem
  • Constipation may also be a side effect of certain medication
  • But it can also be caused by anxiety or depression

How To Prevent And Treat Constipation

Treatment usually involves some lifestyle changes such as increasing your daily fiber intake, drinking plenty of water and exercising.

Your doctor might also prescribe some laxatives and, though they will give you an instant relief, know that establishing regular bowel movement may take months.

As for prevention, it mostly revolves around correcting your diet and make sure you don’t resist the urge to go to the bathroom when you feel it.

2. Pain Around The Belly Button After Surgery

Pain around the belly button following an abdominal surgery is not at all uncommon. After all, surgery is an invasive procedure, and our body needs some time to fully recover from it.

The pain itself might range from very mild to an intense, sharp sensation; but the most important thing to note here is that the pain will go away on its own after your body recovers fully. Until then, you can take pain medication should you require any.

So should you seek medical help? If the pain is bearable, you might want to steer clear of doctors (besides regular checkups) but you should definitely consider paying them a visit if you also experience:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain that is becomming more and more intense

3. Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a painful swelling of the appendix and is one of the most common causes of pain around the belly button. At first, the pain will manifest itself in the middle of your abdomen and then “travel” to the lower right-hand side, so the pain is actually felt under the belly button.

When should you call your GP? Generally, most people avoid contacting their GP at the first sign of pain, but if you feel the pain starting to get worse, you should seek medical help.

Other Common Symptoms Of Appendicitis:

  • Fever – fever alone is not a reliable enough to diagnose appendicitis on the spot, but if it’s combined with a severe abdominal pain, it may serve as a solid indication.
  • A pain that is getting worse – most patients agree that the appendicitis pain is unlike anything they ever felt before; it is strong enough to wake you up in the middle of the night! On top of that, the intensity of the pain is rapidly increasing.
  • Bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation – we all get bloated from time to time (especially when we don’t pay much attention to what we eat), but if you experience bloating in the morning as soon as you wake up, something might be wrong. Bloating can also become worse as the time goes by, and also cause pain around the belly button.
  • Pain to touch – since appendix is located in the lower right area of your abdomen, you can press it and gouge your reaction. Intense pain should be a clear indication something is wrong

The exact cause of appendicitis is not yet fully known, but it is considered to be some blockage at the entrance of the appendix.

Most common treatment is appendectomy – surgical removal of the appendix.

4. Ulcers

According to the statistics, about one in every 10 American develops an ulcer during his/her lifetime. Ulcers commonly appear in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) and up until the mid 1980s the conventional wisdom was that they are caused by stress, excessive stomach acid secretion, and poor lifestyle.

Recent theories suggest that the number one culprit is a certain bacteria, along with other factors:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and
  • Caffeine

As for the symptoms, there are cases where ulcers do not cause any symptoms at all. Having said that, the most common of an ulcer is a pain felt between the navel and the breastbone.

They are usually treated with medication and changes in the lifestyle.

5. Indigestion – Upset Stomach

Also known as dyspepsia, is a common clinical condtion seen in patients with gastrointestinal problems. It commonly occurs during or after eating and it can range from mild discomfort to an intense pain. Its symptoms are:

  • Burning sensation or pain in the area between the navel and the breast bone.
  • Unpleasant feeling of fulness after the meal is done

Indigestion may be caused and triggered by a number of different factors, some of which are:

  • Weight loss
  • Drinking too much alcohol or smoking tobacco
  • Eating too much/too fast
  • Greasy, spicy foods
  • Stress can also cause indigestion
  • Gallstones
  • Gastritis
  • Ulcers etc.

When To See A Doctor?

Though indigestion is not a serious problem in itself, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately:

  • Jaw pain
  • Chest pain
  • Heavy sweating and anxiety
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Intense, sharp pain around the belly button
  • Vomiting or passing blood in the stool

6. Can Hernia Cause Pain Around The Belly Button?

A hernia occurs when soft tissue protrudes through a weak point in the abdominal muscles. It usually presents itself in a form of a bulge on either side of the pubic bone.

A hernia is not dangerous by itself, BUT if it does not go away on its own, it can lead to specific complications. If it does not go away on its own, your doctor will likely recommend surgery.

The pain is usually felt under the belly button, commonly in the groin area and it can intensify when bending over or coughing.

7. Crohn`s Disease

Crohn`s disease is a condition that causes the inflammation in the lining of the digestive system. Though, the exact causes of this disease are not clear, there are some contributing factors:

  • Genetics
  • Previous infections
  • Smoking and
  • Various environmental factors

Most common symptoms might include diarrhea, mucus, and/or blood in the stool, fatigue and abdominal pain around the belly button. It is important to note that there will be times when the disease will present with only mild symptoms, but it can then flare up and cause serious health problems.

8. Ovarian Cysts

A cyst is a fluid-filled sack basically, and an ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sack located on the ovary. In most cases, these cysts are benign and most women have them at some point in their lives. Of course, there are cases where the cyst turns out to be malignant (cancerous) but these cases are rare.

These cysts are usually small in diameter and may not present with any symptoms. But larger ones might cause some twisting in the ovaries and cause pain. Of course, the pain will be felt in the area under the belly button.

9. Urinal Tract Infections

Urinal tract infection, or UTI, is an infection involving kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. If the infection affects kidneys or ureters, the patient might experience severe symptoms including:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and
  • Pain

The infection in the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra) will present itself with less severe symptoms.

The infection is usually treated with antibiotics, but you should always seek medical help, rather than trying to deal with it yourself!

10. Gallbladder Problems

Problems with gallbladder are usually caused by some infection or passing stones. And even though passing stones might cause excruciating pain, you will be happy to know that as much as 90% of all sufferers rarely feel pain at all.

If the patient does experience pain, it is usually located under the rib cage on the right-hand side. Some other symptoms are:

11. Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a gland located behind your stomach, and its main role is producing the digestive juices which facilitate food digestion. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the very juices and enzymes it produces start to attack the tissue causing swelling and eventually lead to scarring.

Most common causes of pancreatitis are:

  • Pain in the center part of the upper abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Jaundice and
  • Weight loss

12. Stomach Flu

Stomach flu refers to swelling and the inflammation of the stomach and bowels from a virus. Physical examination is required for properly diagnosing it. The health care provider will usually look for the following symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure and urinary output
  • Sunken eyes, lethargy and an overall exhaustion of the body

Common symptoms are pain around the belly button (abdominal pain), nausea and diarrhea.

13. Medication Side Effects

This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you are on any specific medication, you need to be aware of the possible side effects. Of course, your GP will take care of this, but should you experience pain in your abdomen you should let them know.

11. Food Poisoning

This is an ever-present danger, especially if you eat fast food often. If the food was not properly stored or it was stored in the unsanitary condition it can lead to food poisoning.

If you did suffer from food poisoning, you will likely vomit within the first several hours. You might also experience pain and discomfort in the area around your belly button.

14. Menstrual Cramps

Guys, feel free can skip this section.

Painful menstrual cramps may immediately before or during the menstrual cycle. And depending on the severity of the cramps, they can cause intense pain in the abdomen, that can spread as far as hips, lower back, and thighs.

Most common way of dealing with menstrual cramps are medication. You can also try placing a heating pad on your lower abdomen or lower back.

16. Pregnancy

Another common cause of pain in the navel area reserved especially for women.

Make no mistake about it, abdomen pain during pregnancy can be a symptom of a severe problem. This is why you should never try to diagnose yourself; it is always better to seek professional medical help. Of course, seeking medical attention is advised if the pain is severe, sharp and if it lasts for more extended periods of time.

Most common benign belly button pain during pregnancy is induced by the changes in the round ligament of the vagina. As the name suggests, this ligament is located inside your pelvis, on either side of the vagina.

As the pregnancy progresses, this ligament is being stretched out and becomes thicker. These changes and occasional spasms are whats causing this pain.

The pain usually starts in the second trimester and is more intense on one side. Though it may seem dangerous (as it is sharp and intense), it is harmless, it doesn’t last very long, and only appears when you change positions (get up, sit or lie down or a cough).

When You Should Call Your Healthcare Provider

Though round ligament induced pain is harmless, there are other causes of pain around the belly button during pregnancy that can indicate a more serious health problem. So, how do you spot the difference?

The main characteristic of this specific pain is that it doesn’t last very long; you usually only experience it when changing positions. Other types of pain may be longer in duration and should you experience them; you should consult with your doctor.

17. Heavy Workouts

And not just heavy workout, there is also sudden twisting or bending motion, intense stretching, weight lifting or any other strenuous activity. They can all cause pain around the belly button.

Here you can use your common sense and “feel” to determine if the injury is severe enough to call your doctor or is it something minor that just requires rest.


Areola Pain – 8 Most Common Causes Of Areola And Nipple Pain


The good news is areola pain is usually benign. Every woman experiences it from time to time and, though it can be a bit frustrating, irritating and cause discomfort, it will often go away on its own.

But what should you if it does not go away on its own? What should you do if you notice the intensity of the pain starting to increase? What do you do if the pain is so intense you can’t stand it?

These are just some of the questions we will be answering today. We are also going to talk about the causes of this strange pain in your areolas because, though we said it is entirely normal in most cases, it can sometimes be an indication of a particular health problem.

But first, let’s kick things off with a little anatomy.

The Anatomy Of The Areola

Though we usually talk about it when talking about the nipple, the term areola is not exclusive to this region. Areola1 stands for any small space in a tissue – area around the nipple, the colored part of the iris around the pupil of the eye, etc.

The areola we will be talking about today is that pink colored ring found around the nipple. The primary function2 of the areola is to support the nipple.

Areolas contain sweat glands called Montgomery’s glands which help keep the nipple moisturized during lactation (breastfeeding).

Size And Color

The color of the areola will depend on many factors, but it is usually described as pink or brown.

The color will also depend on the age, skin tone, hormones, pregnancy, etc.

As for the size, it will also vary. Standard size in a sexually mature woman will range anywhere from 1.5in (3cm) up to 4in(10cm).

Most Common Causes Of Areola Pain

Sometimes, making the distinction between areola and nipple pain will be a hard one to make, this is why we will cover conditions affecting them both.

A Poorly Fitted Bra

This is one of the most common causes of areola, nipple, and even breast pain and irritation.

Though this may sound silly, even embarrassing, you will be surprised to know that as many a 70% of women are wearing a wrong sized bra.

Another common “problem” women will face are uneven breasts. According to some research, around 42% of women have one breast larger than the other. This can also be a problem when choosing a right bra(in this situation, you should pick a bra that first your larger breast).

So, if you are suffering from pain and irritation in this region, it may be down to the wrong size.

Unfortunately, we do not possess technical capabilities to feature a bra size calculator on our website, but you can hop over to a website called Calculator.net and try that one. You can visit it by clicking the image below:


This is another common cause of areola pain. During menstruation, your breasts will become more tender and sensitive, so ache and discomfort is nothing you should be afraid of.

If you notice this type of pain and you are on your period, there is really not much you can do. That being said, we can offer you a little piece of advice, and that is to lower your sodium levels.

Sodium will get your body to retain more water, so your breasts and nipples might get even more swollen. Reducing sodium levels might ease your pain a bit.

So how do you reduce sodium levels? Believe it or not, you should drink more water! Water will hydrate your body, flush your digestive system and cause you to release even more water through secretion.

Another thing you can do is hit the sauna and sweat your “excess water” away. A sauna would be a good place to do just that.


Pregnancy is a time when your hormones go wild. The levels of progesterone and estrogen rise and, as a result, the tissue around the nipple (as well as the nipple itself) becomes more sensitive to the touch.

Your nipples are also fuller and more tender as the time goes by, and after around 9th week, the nipples become bigger and slightly darker (since hormones can even cause changes in the skin’s pigment).


Mastitis3 is another “pregnancy-related” cause of areola pain. It is an infection of the tissue of the mammary gland within the breast.

There are two main causes of mastitis in women and those are:

  1. Bacteria introduced from the outside – in this case, the bacteria are introduced through tiny cracks in the surface of the skin. Bacteria often comes from the baby’s mouth.
  2. Milk stasis – the important thing we need to remember about breast milk is that all of it needs to come out. If for some reason, some milk is left behind, it can build up and get infected by a bacteria.

Milk stasis can have a number of different causes, some of which are:

  • Baby feeding problems – if, for some reason, baby has a problem sucking, or does not get into the proper position, some milk might get left behind
  • Changes in feeding frequency
  • A blow to the chest – a blow to the chest can cause blockage in milk ducts
  • Pressure on your breasts – wearing tight,
    poorly fitted clothes can put some pressure to the breast tissue and cause problems

If you have mastitis, you will experience flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, body ache, fever; your breast and nipple will become tender and your areola might change color (become red).

An interesting fact about mastitis is that it rarely affects both breasts at the same time. Researchers suspect the reason behind this is that the baby usually favors one breast. Repeated stress to that specific breast (feeding) may lead to the development of mastitis.

As for the treatment, you should visit your GP, especially if you are breastfeeding. He/she might prescribe specific medication (depending on your current state) and offer some tips to help relieve your symptoms.

Some of the tips we can offer you are to avoid wearing tight clothes (especially bras) until the problems go away. One other thing you can do(if you are breastfeeding) is to regularly express your milk, by hand or by using a breast pump.

You should also drink plenty of water and get enough rest.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis4, can also be called eczema, is a medical condition where the skin becomes extremely itchy and inflamed. Itchiness and inflammation lead to the development of tiny blisters, redness, swelling, and cracking.

Scratching your skin may also lead to crusting and scaling. Scratching your skin will also damage it even further and allow for even more bacteria to penetrate it and cause more severe health problems. This is why this skin disease is so problematic.

This type of dermatitis will affect both men and woman of all ages but is more common in infants and younger children. It is also more common in families already affected by it, so there is a definite hereditary component to it.

Dermatitis may also be triggered by:

  • Dry skin
  • Stress
  • Prolonged contact with water
  • Various skin products
  • Skin irritation due to clothing

As you can see, this is a severe disease so if you notice a persistent rash on your skin that just does not go away, see a doctor.

The good news is, the condition may be put under control in as little as three weeks, but only with proper treatment! Corticosteroid creams and ointments are most commonly prescribed.

If you do get diagnosed with this disease, in addition to the prescribed treatment, you should also pay attention to prevention – avoid disease triggers as much as you can.


Friction during exercise is common, especially if you are not wearing proper clothes. This is most apparent in running as your clothes will jump up and down as you move forward.

If you notice this type of irritation on your nipples and areolas, wearing a sports bra should be a must. You should also consider applying some topical cream, just to minimize friction.

Common symptoms you will experience are:

  • Soreness
  • Dryness
  • Irritation
  • Blood

Breast abscess

This is a condition is related to the one we’ve already talked about earlier – mastitis. It manifests itself as a consequence of a baby’s bite during breastfeeding.

The bacteria will penetrate the skin/ducts and cause soreness, tenderness, increased localized temperature and intense pain.

We need to drain that abscess but under no circumstances should you attempt to do it at home, by yourself. Seeing a doctor is the right thing to do.

Paget’s Disease

Paget’s disease5 is the most severe we will be talking about today. It is a rare form of breast cancer where cancer cells gather around the nipple.

Cancer attacks the milk ducts first, and it then spreads to the nipple surface and the areola. It usually affects older individuals (50 to 60 years of age) and will rarely attack both breasts at the same time.

As for the symptoms, they are usually nonspecific at first – the skin around the nipples will become sore, red and flaky. But, as the time goes by, the symptoms start becoming more intense:

  • Itching and burning
  • Pain and sensitivity
  • Skin thickening/scaling
  • Nipple flattening
  • Yellowish or bloody discharge

It is important to note that this disease is rare, so rare some doctors might mistake it for skin eczema. Which is why (should you notice the symptoms we’ve mentioned above) it would be a good idea to check yourself checked out by a breast specialist.

The disease diagnosis usually follows a few steps – physical examination, a mammogram, an MRI and, if needed, a biopsy of the nipple/areola.

1. “Medical Definition of Areola” by MedicineNet
2. “Purpose And Function Of The Areola” by Breast Health Online
3. “Mastitis” by NHS
4. “Atopic Dermatitis” by MedicineNet
5. “Paget’s Disease Of The Nipple” by BreastCancer.org
– Image 1 Source: Gray H. Thorax – Breast, Anatomy of the human body, page 62

Time Out – Strength Training Misconceptions


Since Dr. Kenneth Cooper published his first Aerobics book in 1968, there has been a strong emphasis on physical fitness in the United States. We’ve experienced the running revolution of the 1970s, the aerobic dance movement of the ‘80s, and the strength-training boom of the ‘90s. Today, most people are aware that exercise is good for their health and is an effective means of preventive medicine.

It is therefore hard to understand why so few people regularly participate in an exercise program. According to the United States Public Health Service Centers for Disease Control, less than 10 percent of all Americans perform enough physical activity to attain any measurable fitness benefits. Most of those who do exercise consistently are walkers and joggers, leaving less than 5 percent of the general public who do strength training.

Strength-Training Misconceptions

There are numerous reasons why people avoid strength training – almost all of them myths. Some don’t do it because they have heard that it may increase their blood pressure. Fortunately, this is not true. Although every adult should have his or her doctor’s approval before starting a strength program, research reveals that properly performed strength exercise is similar to aerobic activity in terms of blood pressure response. 

That is, systolic pressure increases about 35 to 50 percent during exercise and returns quickly to resting levels after the session.  More important, studies show that several weeks of strength training result in significant reductions in resting blood pressure.

In a study I conducted and completed this year, 785 men and women who participated in a two-month program of strength and endurance exercise experienced an average 4 mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure and a mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure. Sensible strength training, by itself or in combination with endurance exercise, has beneficial effects on resting blood pressure.

Fear of increasing body weight is another reason many adults avoid strength exercise. They mistakenly believe that weight training is synonymous with weight gain. It is true that strength training adds muscle, but this is actually the best way to lose fat. 

In fact, strength exercise has a threefold impact on fat reduction. First, it increases calorie use during each training session. Second, it increases calorie use for several hours following exercise due to the afterburn effect. Third, it increases calorie use all day by adding new muscle tissue. This is because every pound of new muscle uses about 35 calories each day just for tissue maintenance.

Of course, there are a variety of health-related reasons to do strength exercise. These include increased bone density, improved glucose metabolism, faster gastrointestinal transit, better blood lipid levels, reduced low back pain, and less arthritic discomfort.

Perhaps the most prevalent misunderstanding about strength training, particularly for those who would like to do it, is the time requirement. Many adults simply do not have time to do the multiple-set workouts they have been told are necessary for strength development. Fortunately, time-efficient, single-set training can be just as productive as time-consuming multiple-set training when performed properly.

Basic and Brief Strength Exercise

During the past five years we have made careful pre-and post-training assessments of the 1,132 participants in our basic exercise program. These classes meet two or three days a week, one hour per session, with 25 minutes of strength exercise (11 Nautilus machines) and 25 minutes of aerobic activity (treadmill walking or stationary cycling).

The basic exercise program is two months long, which seems to be an ideal introductory period for previously sedentary adults. Over 90 percent of the participants rate their exercise class as highly satisfying, and about 80 percent join the YMCA after completing the program. In other words, the eight-week training period is sufficient to turn many inactive women and men into regular exercisers.

One reason for the positive lifestyle change is the excellent results attained by the program participants. As shown in Table 1, the 383 men lost 6.4 pounds of fat weight and gained 3.7 pounds of lean (muscle) weight for a 10-pound improvement in body composition, and 749 women lost 3.4 pounds of fat weight and gained 1.7 pounds of lean weight for a 5-pound improvement in body composition.  At the same time, the men reduced their average resting blood pressure by 4.5 mm Hg, and the women reduced their average resting blood pressure by 3.1 mm Hg.

Another finding is that the younger (ages 21-40), middle (41-60), and older (61-80) adults all attained similar improvements in body composition and resting blood pressure. Just as important, those who began the program in the poorest shape (with the highest percentage of body fat) experienced the most fat loss and lean (muscle) gain.  That is, the adults who had the greatest fitness needs made the greatest improvements.

A practical reason for the success of the basic exercise program is the time-efficient training requirements. The participants did only 25 minutes of strength exercise and 25 minutes of aerobic activity each training session.  Even more helpful for many time-pressured adults, only two workouts a week were necessary for excellent results. As shown in Figure 1, the two-day and three-day exercisers made similar improvements in body composition and resting blood pressure after eight weeks of training.

In addition to an effective and efficient training program, most beginning exercisers appreciate small classes and attentive instructors. We conduct all of  our classes in a separate exercise area, with six members and two instructors per class. This closely supervised setting facilitates the training process and produces an 85 percent compliance rate among program participants.

We have found that most adults can make time for a well-designed exercise program that takes a sensible and systematic approach to strength training.  When the proper exercise principles are applied, excellent results can be achieved in just two 25-minute strength workouts per week.

The Strength-Training Program

The excellent results attained by the 1,132 research program participants required only 25 minutes of strength exercise, two or three days per week.  The recommended strength-training protocol, based on the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, is as follows:

Training Frequency

The standard recommendation of three nonconsecutive days per week is sound, and should be followed whenever possible. However, in a large training study I completed this year, the 416 subjects who strength-trained twice a week achieved almost 90 percent as much strength and muscle gain as the 716 subjects who did strength workouts three days a week. 

For people who have a hard time getting to the gym three times a week, it is good to know that two strength workouts per week produce nearly as much training benefit.

Training Sets

Two separate studies have found that one-set training and three-set training are equally effective for increasing upper-and lower-body strength.  If training time is limited, it is good to know that single-set strength exercise is just as productive as multiple-set workouts.

Training Resistance

The exercise resistance should be high enough to produce a high rate of strength development and low enough to pose a low risk of injury.  Empirical evidence clearly indicates that using 75 percent of maximum resistance meets both of these training criteria.

Training Repetitions

Research indicates that most people can complete eight to 12 controlled repetitions with 75 percent of their maximum resistance. Generally speaking, if you cannot perform at least eight repetitions the resistance may be too heavy, and if you can complete more than 12 repetitions the resistance may be too light.  Working within the eight to 12 repetition range is recommended for safe and effective muscle development.

Training Progression

Every strength-training program needs a protocol for progressing to heavier workloads. While it is important to increase the exercise resistance periodically, it is equally important to do so gradually.  A safe and productive progression is known as the 12 by 5 rule.

That is, whenever you can complete 12 repetitions of an exercise in good form, you increase the resistance by 5 percent or less. The 12 by 5 procedure adds small but frequent weightload increments to progressively stress the muscular system.

Training Speed

Unfortunately, there is little consensus on the best training speed for strength development. Our research indicates, however, that slow movement may be preferred over fast movement, because a slow speed produces less momentum and more muscle tension. 

At six seconds each, eight to 12 repetitions require about 50 to 70 seconds of continuous muscle effort, which provides an excellent anaerobic stimulus for muscle building.  We have obtained consistently good results training with six-second repetitions, taking two seconds for the harder lifting movement and four seconds for the easier lowering movements.

Training Range

Full-range muscle strength is best developed through full-range exercise movements. In other words, the training effect is greatest within the exercised portion of the joint movement range.  Full-range strength reduces injury risk and increases performance potential.  Try to perform each repetition through a full range of movement, but never to a position of discomfort.

About the author:
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., C.S.C.S, is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and Club Industry magazines.

Strength Training For Youth Fitness


Most people are aware that North American boys and girls are experiencing epidemic levels of obesity, and that this problem is in large part associated with physical inactivity. However, the standard recommendations for more aerobic exercise and less high-calorie food intake may not be the best advice for overweight and underactive children.

Although we are not qualified to discuss youth nutrition/dieting, we have observed that very few boys and girls choose to spend 20 to 30 minutes in continuous endurance exercise regardless of the benefits or incentives to do so. On the other hand, children typically play hard or run fast for 30 to 60 seconds, rest a minute or two, then repeat their performance, alternating brief bouts of vigorous exercise with longer recovery periods.

Benefits of Strength Exercise for Children

Ideally, children should have access to exercise programs that meet their physiological needs and match their personal activity patterns. Fortunately, it is possible to provide such an exercise program, and the beneficial effects exceed most people’s expectations. The activity is sensible strength training and the following list presents 10 reasons for boys and girls to perform regular resistance exercise.

  1. Stronger muscles
  2. Stronger bones
  3. Stronger tendons
  4. Stronger ligaments
  5. more muscle
  6. Less fat
  7. Higher metabolism
  8. Greater physical capacity
  9. Greater self-confidence
  10. Lower ijury risk

Strength training not only offers many advantages over other types of exercise, it fits the youth activity preference alternating brief bouts of high-effort movement with longer periods of rest/recovery. Strength training also provides visual reinforcement to the exerciser, showing how much weight is being lifted and how much progress has been made. 

One of the best features of strength training is the success experienced by overweight boys and girls. Because weight lifted is positively related to bodyweight, heavier children typically train with heavier weightloads than their lighter peers. Unlike most athletic activities in which extra bodyweight is undesirable (e.g., running, jumping, soccer, basketball), strength training actually favors larger youth and gives them a much needed sense of physical achievement.

Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that strength training is an inappropriate and unsafe activity for youth. Conceptually, this does not make sense.  If strength training is safe and effective for frail elderly, how much more so for healthy young people who have full movement capacity and plenty of energy. 

Indeed, there has never been a reported serious injury in any prospective study on youth strength training. To the contrary, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (l993), 50 percent of preadolescent sports injuries could be prevented in large part by youth strength and conditioning programs. We have conducted regular strength training classes for 6 to 12 years old for the past 17 years without an injury.

You may have heard that strength training is detrimental to bone development in children, but this misconception has never been demonstrated.  On the contrary, strength training has been shown to enhance bone development. In a 10-month study with 9 to 10 year old girls, those who did strength and aerobic exercise increased their bone mineral density by about 6.2 percent, compared to about 1.4 percent for those who did not strength train (Morris et al. 1977).

You may have also heard that calisthenics exercises are safer for children than strength training. This is also untrue. Most children, and especially those who are under-fit and over-fat, cannot complete a single pull-up, bar-dip or push-up, making these calisthenics maximum-effort exercises that result in failure.  However, when using resistance equipment, the weightload can be adjusted as necessary for each child to perform 10 to 15 controlled repetitions of every exercise.

Finally, some question whether children can gain strength and enhance muscular development due to low levels of testosterone. However, if this were true, then women and elderly individuals would also be unresponsive to strength training, and this is clearly untrue.  In fact, studies have revealed significant increases in muscle strength and mass in preadolescent boys and girls (Faigenbaum et al. 1993, Morris et al. 1997, Pikosky at al. 2002, Westcott et al. 1995), and these strength training effects are relatively long-lasting (Faigenbaum et al. 1996).

Youth Strength Training Guidelines

Although there are certain similarities between optimal strength training protocols for adults and children, we have discovered some notable differences, especially in the area of sets and repetitions.

Training Sets

Our best research results were obtained using the DeLorme-Watkins strength training protocol in which the first exercise set is performed for 10 repetitions with 50 percent of the 10 repetition-maximum (10-RM) weightload, the second exercise set is performed for 10 repetitions with 75 percent of the 10-RM weightload, and the final exercise set is performed for as many repetitions as possible with the 10-RM weightload. 

When 15 repetitions can be completed a higher 10-RM weightload is determined and the training protocol is continued. After eight weeks of training, the 10-year old boys and girls who followed this program increased their overall muscle strength (5 exercises) by 74% compared to a 13-percent strength gain for the matched control subjects (Faigenbaum et al. 1993).

A follow-up study with the more challenging Berger strength training protocol – 3 sets of 6 repetitions each using the 6-repetition maximum (6-RM) weightload produced less improvement (47 percent strength gain) over the same 8-week training period (Faigenbaum et al. 1996). 

These comparative results suggested that three high-effort sets of each exercise may not be necessary for strength development in preadolescents.  Due to time constraints, our youth strength studies over the past six years have incorporated one set of each resistance exercise with excellent results and no injuries.

Training Repetitions

Because the children in these studies appeared to respond better to higher repetition training, we conducted a more specific repetitions study (Faigenbaum et al. 1999). Half of the children performed one exercise set to muscle fatigue using 6 to 8 repetitions and the other half performed one exercise set to muscle fatigue using 13 to 15 repetitions. 

The average strength improvement for the lower repetition group was 18 percent compared to 29 percent for the higher repetition group. These results were consistent with our previous studies and supported higher repetition strength training protocols for preadolescents.

Training Frequency

With respect to training frequency, we have observed similar strength gains for children who exercise two or three non-consecutive days per week, which is consistent with our research on adult trainees (Westcott and Guy 1996). 

We recommend beginning with two weekly strength workouts with the option of adding a third training session if so desired by the participating youth.

Training Progression

While there are no hard and fast rules for increasing the exercise resistance, we follow a double progressive protocol to reduce the risk of doing too much too soon. For example, we begin with a weightload that the child can perform for 10-13 repetitions. 

When 15 repetitions can be completed we increase the resistance by as little as possible (typically 1 to 5 pounds), and not more than five percent (e.g., 20 lbs to 21 lbs; 40 lbs to 42 lbs). The child trains with the higher weightload until 15 repetitions can be completed, then again increases the resistance slightly. Gradual progression is the key to successful youth strength training, facilitating safe workouts that are both challenging and reinforcing.

Training Technique

Training technique includes movement speed, movement range, correct breathing, and proper posture during the exercise performance. We prefer controlled movement speed, with about two seconds for each lifting movement and about two seconds for each lowering movement. In this manner a set of 15 repetitions can be completed in approximately 60 seconds, which represents an appropriate bout of high-effort, anaerobic exercise.

We generally recommend full movement range on simple exercises (e.g., biceps curl, triceps extension) and moderate movement range on complex exercises (e.g., leg press, chest press) in which excessively stretched starting positions may be problematic.

Correct breathing technique requires exhaling during lifting movements (concentric muscle actions) and inhaling during lowering movement (eccentric muscle actions). Proper posture facilitates correct breathing and exercise performance, and is typically characterized by standing or sitting tall, keeping the head up, shoulders square, torso erect, and hips level, as well as avoiding twisting, turning and squirming actions.

Youth Strength Training Exercises

Our experience indicates that preadolescents should perform between 6 and 12 strength exercises each training session. The exercise program should address all of the major muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, spinal erectors, abdominals, pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, upper trapezius, biceps and triceps.  If children have access to youth-sized resistance machines we recommend the following exercises.

Youth Exercise Machines Major Muscles Addressed Key Points For Safe And Effective Performance
Leg extension Quadriceps Knee joints must be aligned with machine axis of rotation.
Leg curl Hamstrings Knee joints must be aligned with machine axis of rotation.
Leg press Quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals Knee joints should not be flexed more than 90 degrees, and should not be extended to lockout position.
Trunk extension Spinal erectors Trunk should be extended about 30 degrees beyond neutral (straight) position.
Trunk flexion Abdominals Trunk should be flexed about 30 degrees beyond neutral (straight) position.
Chest cross Pectoralis major Shoulder joints must be aligned with machine axes of rotation.
Seated row Latissimus dorsi and biceps Chest should contact front pad throughout the exercise.
Shoulder press Deltoids, triceps and upper trapezius Back should contact seatback throughout the exercise. Hand should be above shoulder level in starting position.
Arm curl Biceps Elbow joints must be aligned with machine axis of rotation.
Arm extension Triceps Elbow joints must be aligned with machine axis of rotation.

Although child-sized resistance equipment is well suited for smaller framed boys and girls, most preadolescents can train safely and productively on adult machines that use linear (pushing or pulling) movements. For example, the following adult resistance machines are appropriate for most boys and girls.

Adult Exercise Machines Major Muscles Addressed Key Points For Safe And Effective Performance
Leg press Quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals Knee joint should not be flexed more than 90 degrees, and should not be extended to lockout position. Feet should be placed at bottom of foot pad.
Bench press Pectoralis major and triceps Hips, back and head should contact bench throughout the exercise. Hands should be above chest level in starting position.
Pulldown Latissimus dorsi and biceps Torso should remain relatively erect throughout the exercise. Elbow joints should not be fully extended.
Shoulder press Deltoids, triceps and upper trapezius Back should contact seatback throughout the exercise. Hands should be above shoulder level in starting position.
Weight-assisted bar dip Pectoralis major and triceps Torso should remain erect throughout the exercise. Elbow joints should not be flexed more than 90 degrees.
Weight-assisted chin up Latissimus dorsi and biceps Torso should remain erect throughout the exercise. Elbow joints should not be completely extended.

Resistance machines are particularly useful for overweight children because bodyweight is supported. However, if resistance machines are not available, children can exercise safely and effectively with free-weights (dumbbells rather than barbells) or elastic bands, as long as they comply with the strength training guidelines.

For gradual progression in dumbbell exercises, one-pound magnetic add-on weights may be used. Consider the following dumbbell exercises as alternatives to machine strength training.

Free Weight Equipment Major Muscles Addressed Key Points For Safe And Effective Performance
Dumbbell squat Quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals Hold dumbbells by sides. Squat to just above thighs horizontal position.  Keep torso erect and knees almost over feet.
Dumbbell bench press Pectoralis major and triceps Hips, back and head should contact bench throughout the exercise. Dumbbells should  always be above chest level.
Dumbbell bent row Latissimus dorsi and biceps Keep knee on bench and back horizontal throughout the exercise. Keep elbow close to torso during lifting and lowering movements.
Dumbbell shoulder press Deltoids, triceps, and upper trapezius Use incline bench for back and head support.  Dumbbells should always be above shoulder level.
Dumbbell biceps curl Biceps Keep torso erect throughout the exercise.  Keep elbows positioned against sides during lifting and lowering movements.
Trunk extension Spinal erectors Trunk should be extended about 30 degrees beyond neutral (straight) position.
Trunk flexion Abdominals Trunk should be flexed about 30 degrees beyond neutral (straight) position.


Without question, the most important aspect of safe and successful youth strength training is qualified adult supervision throughout each exercise session. Proper instruction with appropriate performance feedback and positive reinforcement is essential for children to develop competence and confidence in this activity, as well as to increase participant satisfaction and reduce injury risk.

The hundreds of boys and girls who have participated in our strength training programs over the past 17 years have had a 90 percent compliance rate and a zero percent injury rate. When properly designed and carefully conducted, strength training may very well be the most safe and physiologically beneficial activity children can do.


Keep in mind that muscles are the engines of the body and that good engines are essential for active lifestyles. In the past childhood represented the most active time of a person’s life, but our sedentary society has changed that. Most children are preoccupied with inactive pastimes, and very few do enough resistance exercise to develop strong musculoskeletal systems.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. Children should do about 20 minutes of well-designed and carefully supervised strength training (ideally sandwiched between 10 minutes of warm-up and cool-down activities), two or three nonconsecutive days a week. Research confirms that sensible strength training will help children look better, feel better and function better, as well as develop an activity pattern that should serve them well throughout their lives.

In addition, as children gain strength and confidence, they are more likely to participate in a wide variety of physical activities and sports for enhanced fitness and enjoyment.

Summary of Youth Strength Training Guidelines

Sets: Perform one challenging set of each exercise, which may or may not be preceded by one or two warm-up sets.
Repetitions: Perform 10 to 15 repetitions for each exercise set.
Frequency: Train two or three non-consecutive days a week.
Progression: Increase the resistance by five percent or less (typically 1 to 3 pounds) when 15 repetitions can be completed.
Speed: Use two seconds for lifting movements and two seconds for lowering movements.
Range: Use full movement range on simple exercises and moderate movement range on complex exercises.
Breathing: Exhale during lifting movements and inhale during lowering movements.
Posture: Stand or sit tall with head up, shoulders square, torso erect, and hips level, without twisting, turning or squirming.


American College of Sports Medicine. 1993. The prevention of sport injuries of children and adolescents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; Suppl., 25 (8): 1-7.

Faigenbaum, A., et al. 1993. The effects of a twice-a-week strength training program on children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 5:339-346. style=”FONT-SIZE: 8pt”

Faigenbaum, A., et al. 1996. The effects of strength training and detraining on children. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 10 (2): 109-114 style=”FONT-SIZE: 8pt”

Faigenbaum A., et al. 1999. The effects of different resistance training protocols on muscular strength and endurance development in children. Pediatrics. 104 (1): 1-7.

Morris. F. L., et al. 1997. Prospective ten-month exercise intervention in premenarcheal girls: positive effects on bone and lean mass. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 12 (9): 1453-1462.

Picosky, M., et al. 2002. Effects of resistance training on protein utilization in healthy children. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34 (5): 820-827.

Westcott, W., et al. 1995. School-based conditioning programs for physically unfit children. Strength and Conditioning, 17: 5-9.

Westcott, W. and Guy, J. 1996. A physical evolution: Sedentary adults see marked improvements in as little as two days a week. IDEA Today, 14 (9): 58-65.

About the author:

Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. Avery D. Faigenbaum, Ed.D., is associate professor of exercise science and physical education at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. They have conducted many years of research on children’s strength training and authored two books on this topic – Strength and Power for Young Athletes (Human Kinetics, 2000) and Youth Fitness (American Council on Exercise, 2001). Both serve on the Massachusetts Governor’s Committee for Physical Fitness and Sports, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation and the National School Fitness Foundation.

Better Running Through Strength Training Exercises


Distance running is a great sport that is enjoyed at a variety of levels by millions of competitive and recreational athletes. Whether you prefer to jog a couple of miles through the neighborhood, or are training to complete a marathon, distance running is a highly effective and efficient means of aerobic conditioning.

Distance Running Increases The Potential For Injuries

Unfortunately, distance running is considerably less beneficial for your musculoskeletal system. Injury rates among runners are extremely high. In fact, at the high school level, cross-country runners experience more injuries than athletes in any other sport, including football and gymnastics.

Why is a non-contact sport like running such a high-risk activity? Actually, running involves an incredible amount of contact, but it is with road surfaces rather than other athletes. Every running stride places about three times the weight of your body on your foot, ankle, knee and hip joints. These landing forces may also stress your lower back structures.

The repetitive pounding encountered mile after mile produces a degree of microtrauma to the shock-absorbing tissues. Under ideal conditions, these tissues recover completely within a 24-hour period. However, there are numerous factors that may interfere with normal recovery processes, eventually resulting in weakened and injury-prone tissues.

These factors include longer running sessions, faster running paces, shorter recovery periods between workouts, more downhill running, more hard-surface running, more racing, more general fatigue, and undesirable changes in eating or sleeping patterns.

Of course, you may wisely take steps to reduce the amount of tissue trauma and decrease your risk of running-related injuries. Such precautions include making very gradual increases in training distances and speeds, taking sufficient recovery periods (particularly between hard training sessions), selecting user-friendly running courses (soft surfaces and level terrain), competing in fewer races, avoiding over-fatigue, and paying careful attention to proper nutrition and sleep.

However, one of the most effective means for minimizing tissue trauma is to develop stronger muscles, tendons, fascia, ligaments and bones. This is the primary reason that every runner should perform regular strength exercise. Consider the results of our four-year strength training project with the Notre Dame High School girls’ cross-country and track teams.

Notre Dame High School Strength Training Program

For four consecutive years, 30 distance runners from Notre Dame High School participated in a basic and brief strength training program during the summer and winter months between their cross-country and track seasons. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, they performed 30 minutes of strength exercise (12 Nautilus machines) that addressed all of their major muscle groups.

Each of these years, the cross-country team won both the Massachusetts and New England championships in this sport. More important, during the four years that they did strength training, only one girl experienced an injury that resulted in a missed practice session or meet.

Strength Training Benefits

The Notre Dame runners realized that a sensible strength training program provides many benefits for runners. These include the following:

  • Greater muscle strength
  • Greater muscle endurance
  • Greater joint flexibility
  • Better body composition
  • Reduced injury risk
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Improved running economy

While the first six strength training benefits should be self-explanatory, you may be intrigued by improved running economy. In a 1995 study at the University of New Hampshire, the women cross-country runners who did strength training experienced a significant improvement in their running economy.

They required 4 percent less oxygen at sub-maximum running speeds (7:30, 7:00, and 6:30 minute mile paces), meaning that they could run more efficiently and race faster than before.

Runner Concerns

With so many advantages, why do so few runners regularly perform strength exercise? Consider these four concerns that keep many runners from strength training:

  • Increased bodywei
  • Decreased movement speed
  • Less fluid running form
  • Fatigued muscles

Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues.

Increased Bodyweight

Very few people who perform strength exercise have the genetic potential to develop large muscles. This is especially true for distance runners, who typically have ectomorphic (thin) physiques. Strength training increases their muscle strength and endurance, but rarely results in significant weight gain.

Decreased Movement Speed

With respect to running speed, our studies and many others have shown that greater strength results in faster movement speeds. We need only look at sprinters and middle distance runners to realize that strength training has a positive impact on running speed, as essentially all of these athletes perform regular strength exercise.

Less Fluid Running Form

Running involves coordinated actions of the legs and the arms, and one cannot function without the other. Your right arm moves in mirror image with your left leg, and your left arm counterbalances your right leg in perfect opposition.

That is why it is almost impossible to run fast and move your arms slow or to move your arms fast and run slow. By strengthening the upper body muscles, you more effectively share the running effort between your arms and legs, resulting in more fluid running form.

Fatigued Muscles

It is true that a strenuous strength training session can cause a considerable amount of muscle fatigue that could adversely affect the quality and quantity of your runs. That is why we recommend brief strength workouts that do not leave you feeling enervated or exhausted. Remember that you are strength training to enhance your running performance, not to become a competitive weightlifter.

Our program of strength training requires just one set of exercise for each major muscle group, which does not take much time and does not produce much lasting fatigue. You may also choose to strength train only one or two days per week, which should make muscle fatigue even less likely.

Runners’ Strength Training Program

The strength training protocol followed by the Notre Dame athletes, and all of our runners, is a comprehensive conditioning program that addresses all of the major muscle groups in the body. We do not attempt to imitate specific running movements or emphasize specific running muscles, because this typically results in an overtrained, imbalanced, and injury-prone musculoskeletal system.

For example, the calf (gastrocnemius and soleous) muscles are used extensively in running. Due to their involvement in every running stride, many people think that runners should strengthen their calf muscles. Indeed they should, but it is even more important to strengthen their weaker counterpart, the shin (anterior tibial) muscles.

If you strengthen only the larger and stronger calf muscles they will eventually overpower the smaller and weaker shin muscles, which may lead to shin splints, stress fractures, achilles tendon problems, and other lower leg difficulties.  With this in mind, our runners always conclude their strength workouts with a set of weighted toe raises to strengthen the shin muscles and maintain balance within the lower leg musculature.

Some people believe that runners should complete numerous sets and many repetitions with light resistance to enhance their endurance capacity. However, this is not our purpose in performing strength training. Remember that running is best for improving cardiovascular endurance, and that strength training is best for increasing musculoskeletal strength.

Generally, muscle strength is best developed by training with moderate weightloads (about 75 percent of maximum) for 8 to 12 repetitions per set. However, distance runners typically possess a higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers, and therefore attain better results by training with about 12 to 16 repetitions per set. You should add 1 to 5 pounds more resistance whenever you complete 16 repetitions in good form.  One set of each exercise is sufficient for strength development.

There is no reason to train with fast movement speeds, because training fast will not make you faster and training slow will not make you slower. Exercising with controlled movement speeds maximizes muscle tension and minimizes momentum for a better training effect. We recommend six-second repetitions, taking two seconds for each lifting movement and four seconds for each lowering movement.

Research supports three non-consecutive strength training sessions per week for best results, but fewer workouts can produce significant strength gains. Our recent studies have shown two weekly workouts to be 70 to 85 percent as effective and one weekly workout to be 60 to 75 percent as effective as three-day-per-week strength training.

Summary of Strength Training Guidelines

  • Exercise all of the major muscle groups
  • Perform 12 to 16 repetitions per set
  • Add one to five pounds whenever 16 repetitions can be completed
  • Perform one set of each exercise
  • Use controlled movement speeds (six seconds per rep)
  • Train one, two or three non-consecutive days per week

Recommended Strength Exercises For Runners

You may develop muscle strength with a variety of exercises using free-weights or machines. The following section presents recommended strength exercises for the major muscle groups.

Leg Muscles

Although barbell squats are the traditional leg exercise, most runners may do better to avoid placing a heavy barbell across their shoulders. Dumbbell squats are an acceptable alternative, but it may be difficult to hold enough weight to appropriately stress the large leg muscles.

Our recommendation is leg presses on a well-designed machine that offers a full movement range and good back support. It may be advisable to precede leg presses with leg extensions that target the quadriceps and leg curls that target the hamstrings. One set of each exercise is sufficient, but you may perform an additional set if you desire.

Upper Body Muscles

The typical exercises for the upper body are bench presses for the chest muscles, bent rows for the mid-upper back muscles, and overhead presses for the shoulder muscles. These are acceptable exercises, but are much safer when performed with dumbbells rather than barbells.

For example, because there is no back support in a barbell bent row, the stress to the low-back area is 10 times the weight of the barbell. By using one dumbbell, and placing your other hand on a bench for back support, this exercise can be performed more safely and effectively.

If you have access to machines, we recommend chest crosses for the chest muscles, pullovers for the mid and upper back muscles, and lateral raises for the shoulder muscles. These machines require rotary movements that better isolate the target muscle groups. If you prefer linear movements that involve more muscle groups, well-designed chest press, seated row, and shoulder press machines provide combined training for the upper body and arm muscles.

Arm Muscles

The basic exercise for the biceps muscles is the arm curl, performed with barbells, dumbbells, or machines. Training the triceps involves some form of arm extension, either with free-weights or machines.

A good means for working the biceps and upper back muscles together is chin-ups with bodyweight or on a weight-assisted chin/dip machine. A good means for working the triceps and chest muscles together is bar dips with bodyweight or on a weight-assisted chin/dip machine.

Midsection Muscles

Machines provide the best means for safely and progressively conditioning the muscles of the midsection. In our opinion, the abdominal machine and low-back machine are key exercises for developing a strong and injury resistant midsection. We also recommend the rotary torso machine for strengthening the oblique muscles surrounding the midsection.

If appropriate machines are not available, the basic trunk curl may be the best alternative for abdominal conditioning. The recommended counterpart for the low-back muscles is a front-lying (face down) back extension. Although both of these exercises are performed with bodyweight resistance they are reasonably effective for strengthening the midsection muscles.

Neck Muscles

The neck muscles maintain head position throughout each run. As the head weighs up to 15 pounds, this is an important function. In fact, the first place where many runners fatigue and tighten up is the neck/shoulder area.

We therefore recommend the 4-way neck machine to strengthen these muscles. If you do not have access to this machine, perhaps the best approach is manual resistance. That is, place your hands in front of your forehead to resist slow neck flexion movements, and place your hands behind your head to resist slow neck extension movements.

Table 1 presents the recommended strength training exercises for an overall conditioning program that should be beneficial for runners.

Table 1. – Recommended Strength Training Program: Basic Exercises

Major Muscle Groups Machine Exercises Free-Weight Exercises
Quadriceps Leg Extension Machine Dumbbell Half-Squat
Hamstrings Leg Curl Machine Dumbbell Half-Squat
Chest Chest Cross Machine Dumbbell Bench Press
Upper Back Pullover Machine Dumbbell Bent Row
Shoulders Lateral Raise Machine Dumbbell Overhead Press
Biceps Biceps Machine Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Triceps Extension Triceps Machine Dumbbell Triceps
Low Back Low Back Machine Back Extension (Bodyweight)
Abdominals Abdominal Machine Trunk Curls (Bodyweight)

Once you have mastered the basic exercise program, you may want to add some of the exercises presented in Table 2.

Table 2. – Recommended Strength Training Program: Additional Exercises

Muscle Groups Machine Exercises Free Weight Exercises
Quadriceps & Hamstrings Leg Press Machine Dumbbell Lunge
Chest & Triceps Weight-Assisted Chin/Dip Machine Bar Dip
Upper Back & Biceps Weight-Assisted Chin/Dip Machine Chin Up
Internal & External Obliques Rotary Torso Machine Trunk Curls w/Twists
Neck Flexors & Extensors 4-Way Neck Machine Manual Resistance Neck
Flexion & Extension
Calves Calf Machine Dumbbell Heel Raises
Shins Weight Plate Toe Raises


The main objectives of a strength training program for runners is to decrease injury risk and increase performance potential. For best results the program should be high in exercise intensity and low in training time.

One good set of 12-16 repetitions for each major muscle group is recommended for a safe, effective and efficient exercise experience. One or two training sessions per week are sufficient, although three weekly workouts produces greater strength gains. Each workout should take no more than 20-30 minutes depending upon the number of exercises performed.

The key to productive strength training is proper exercise technique, which includes full movement range and controlled movement speeds. When you make every repetition count, a basic and brief training program should increase your strength significantly (40-60 percent) over a two month training period.

About the author:
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., C.S.C.S, is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and Club Industry magazines.

Seniors Improve Their Golf Game Through Strength Training


An estimated 40 million American men and women play golf each year, and many of these participants are seniors. The good news is that golf is a most interesting athletic activity that requires high levels of both mental concentration and physical skill. The bad news is that many golfers, especially those over age fifty, experience a variety of playing related injuries, typically affecting their hips, back, shoulders, elbows and necks.

Golfer Injuries

One reason for the numerous golf injuries is the explosive, body-torquing action required to swing the club for a powerful drive.  However, assuming proper swing mechanics, a more likely explanation is the low level of personal fitness and the lack of physical conditioning characteristic of most recreational golfers.

Not surprisingly, many golfers spend their free-time playing golf. When they can’t enjoy a game, they may go to the driving range, practice putting, watch golf videos, read golf books, or at least talk about golf. There is a misconception that playing or practicing golf provides some conditioning benefits, but this unfortunately is not the case.  Like all sports, you do not get in shape by playing golf; you get in shape to play golf, at least to play golf more safely and successfully.

Most golfers, although always concerned about time away from the course, are willing to do a few stretching exercises to enhance their joint flexibility. However, golfers have traditionally resisted recommendations to try strength training. Regrettably, the popular consensus among golfers is that strength training is more likely to harm their game then help it. 

They are concerned that strength exercise will give them large, tight muscles that cannot be smoothly coordinated in skilled golf actions.  Older golfers also fear that strength training will increase both their bodyweight and their blood pressure, as well as adversely affect medical conditions such as low back pain and arthritis.

Of course, strength training has actually been shown to reduce bodyweight, lower resting blood pressure, alleviate low back pain and ease arthritic pain (Westcott and Guy 1996, Risch 1993, Tufts 1994).  For more information we decided to do some specific research studies examining the effects of strength training on golfers and golf performance.

Golf Research Studies

Beginning in the winter of 1995, we conducted four separate studies with a total of 77 golfers (average age 57 years).  Each study was eight weeks in length, and completed during the months of January and February when none of the participants were playing golf. All of the subjects trained three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), and performed one set of 8 to 12 repetitions of 12 Nautilus exercises for the major muscle groups of the body. Table 1 presents this information as well as the practical application of the exercise to the golf swing.

The results of this brief (25 minute) strength training program were nothing short of remarkable. After just two months of strength exercise, these senior golfers experienced significant improvements in their body composition, blood pressure and muscle strength. As shown in Table 2, the participants replaced four pounds of fat with four pounds of muscle, reduced their resting blood pressure by four mm Hg, and increased their muscle strength by almost 60 percent. 

Those who did strength training alone enhanced their driving power (club head swing speed) by 2.6 mph, and those who did strength training plus a few stretching exercises enhanced their driving power by 5.2 mph.

Due to the better golf performance results obtained by those who did both strength and stretching exercises, we recommend a combination training program. In fact, further research with 155 subjects has shown that combining stretching exercises with strength exercises can produce 20 percent greater strength gains as well as enhanced joint flexibility. We therefore recommend a stretching exercise following each Nautilus exercise for the muscles just worked.

For example, after completing the leg extension exercise perform a 20-second stretch for the front thigh muscles, and after completing the leg curl exercise perform a 20-second stretch for the rear thigh muscles.  Doing a strengthening and stretching exercise for each major muscle group should ensure balanced physical development for greater performance power and better body coordination for increased skill refinement.

Although many of the golf study participants had prior golf related injuries, there were no physical problems reported during the playing season following their conditioning program.  That is, the golfers who improved their physical fitness reduced their injury risk and actually enjoyed more pain-free playing time than they had experienced in previous years.


The findings from these four studies showed similar and significant benefits to golfers who participate in a brief program of basic strength exercise. The 77 senior golfers who completed two months of sensible strength training added four pounds of muscle, lost four pounds of fat, reduced their resting blood pressure by four mm Hg, and increased their muscle strength by almost 60 percent. 

Those who did strength training alone improved their driving power by 2.6 mph, and those who also did stretching exercises improved their driving power by 5.2 mph.  All of the program participants were injury free during the following season, even though their improved physical fitness enabled them to play considerably more golf.

Based on these findings, golfer’s concerns that strength training will add bodyweight, raise resting blood pressure, aggravate arthritis, cause low back problems, reduce flexibility, impair body coordination, and decrease swinging speed seem unfounded. 

In fact, research clearly shows that a simple program of strength and stretching exercises is most desirable for improving physical fitness, reducing injury risk and enhancing playing ability in senior golfers.
Table 1. Machines, muscles and movements for improved golf driving performance.

Nautilus Exercise Target Muscles Relevance to Golf Swing
Leg Extension Front Thigh Power Production
Leg Curl Rear Thigh Power Production
Leg Press Front Thigh Power Production
Rear Thigh
Low Back Extension Lower Back Force Transfer – Legs to Upper Body
Abdominal Curl Front Midsection Force Transfer – Legs to Upper Body
Rotary Torso Sides of Midsection Force Transfer – Legs to Upper Body
Chest Cross/Press Chest Swing Action
Super Pullover Upper Back Swing Action
Lateral Raise Shoulders Swing Action
Biceps Curl Biceps Club Control
Triceps Extension Triceps Club Control
Neck Extension/Flexion Neck Head Stability

Table 2. Changes experienced by senior golfers following eight weeks of either strength training alone or strength training plus stretching exercises (77 subjects).

Factors Strength Training Only (N = 52) Strength Training and Stretching (N = 25) All Participants (N = 77)
Club Head Speed (mph) + 2.6 + 5.2 + 3.4
Percent Fat (%) – 2.3 – 1.7 – 2.0
Fat Weight (lbs) – 4.6 – 3.0 – 4.1
Muscle Weight (lbs) + 3.9 + 4.0 + 3.9
Mean Blood Pressure (mm Hg) – 4.4 – 4.8 – 4.5
Muscle Strength (%) + 56 + 56 + 56

About the author:
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., C.S.C.S, is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and Club Industry magazines.

Strength Training Changes Lives of 90-Year Old Nursing Home Patients


The assisted living patients selected to participate in our strength training study were typical of many nursing home residents. They were old, weak and relatively immobile. As a general description, our new research participants were characterized by a dropped head, rounded shoulders and a curved back. Most had low back pain, and spent the majority of their time in a bed, chair or wheelchair.

Nonetheless, after talking with senior exercise advocate Gary Reinl, the administrators and medical team at the John Knox Village Senior Living Center in Orange City, Florida were convinced that these deliberated individuals had the potential to change their lives for the better through a simple and sensible program of strength exercise.

Strength Training Program

In fact, they challenged us to implement a safe, efficient and effective strength training program that would enable these older adults to feel better, function better, and ambulate better. Basically, they were hoping that after 14 weeks of strength training these special seniors would have less low back pain and spend fewer hours in their wheelchairs.

We accepted the challenge, and introduced a five-machine Nautilus program to the physical therapists and elderly patients who would participate in this innovative research experiment.  All of the subjects were assessed for body composition, muscle strength, joint flexibility and functional ability before and after the 14-week training period.

The participants completed two brief strength training sessions per week, working one-on-one with a physical therapist. Each exercise was performed for one set of 8 to 12 repetitions to the point of moderate muscle fatigue. When 12 repetitions were completed in good form (slow movement speed and full movement range), the weightload was increased by about five percent. 

Although each strength exercise required less than 90 seconds of physical exertion, the training sessions typically took between 15 to 20 minutes depending upon the participant’s physical ability to transfer on and off the equipment. Table 1 presents the Nautilus exercises, target muscles and desired outcomes of the strength training program.


The results of the assisted living patients strength training study surpassed everyone’s expectations. As presented in Table 2, the elderly exercisers achieved significant improvements in body composition, muscle strength, joint flexibility and functional ability over the 14-week training period. 

Specifically, they replaced about four pounds of lean (muscle) weight, reduced about three pounds of fat weight, increased their leg strength by more than 80 percent, increased their upper body strength by almost 40 percent, enhanced their joint flexibility by 30 percent, and improved the functional independence measure (FIM Score) by almost 15 percent.

Even more impressive than the objective outcomes of the strength training program were the personal observations by the medical professionals and administrative directors. Dr. Pradeep Mathur, John Knox Village Medical Director, reported that the exercise participants exhibited better physical and mental fitness, more endurance, and less low back pain.

Gary Brcka, Assisted Living Administrator, cited examples of how the strength training program helped patients.  In one case, an 87-year-old woman with compression fractures in her lower spine wore a back brace to reduce pressure and pain.  After completing the exercise program, she discontinued wearing the back brace claiming that she no longer needed it.

Carol Sullivan, John Knox Village Director of Nursing, noted that with more muscle strength some patients spent less time in wheelchairs, and one patient no longer needed to use a wheelchair.

Donna Califano, PTA and On-Site Program Director, reported that the patients enjoyed doing the strength exercises because they felt they were really working and seeing progress as their weightloads increased.

Perhaps the most remarkable lifestyle change was experienced by Esther Duvall, an 84 year old assisted living patient who claimed to hurt all the time.  After completing the strength training program, her functional capacity and walking ability improved so much that she actually left the nursing home and rejoined her husband in the independent living campus.

Fitness, Function and Finance

As the exercise participants increased their physical fitness, they concurrently improved their functional abilities. That is, they were able to perform various activities associated with daily living that they were unable to do before the strength training program. These restored abilities included walking, washing, dressing, brushing, combing and other activities characteristic of personal independence.

Of course, this is beneficial to both the participants and the providers. It is estimated that every point increase in a patient’s FIM Score reduces the cost of care by 50 cents a day. An 11-point FIM Score gain therefore represents a cost of care reduction of $5.50 per day. 

Multiplying this by the 19 subjects in our study, we have a daily cost of care reduction of about $105. On a yearly basis, this represents almost $40,000, which is about 2.5 times the cost of the Nautilus machines.


Based on the results of our 14-week strength training study with frail nursing home residents, we conclude that performing one set of 8 to 12 repetitions on five selected Nautilus machines is a safe, efficient and effective means for enabling elderly exercisers to attain:

  • Improved body composition
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Enhanced joint flexibility
  • Increased functional ability

Our findings further indicate that senior living facilities that provide well-designed and properly supervised strength training programs may expect:

  • Increased patient independence
  • Improved cooperation between patients and care givers
  • Reduced health care costs
  • Enhanced potential for attracting new residents and professional staff

Table 1. Nautilus machines, target muscles and desired outcomes of the strength training program.

Nautilus Exercise Target Muscles Desired Outcome of the Training Program
Neck Machine Neck Extensors, Neck Flexors Able to hold head erect for enhanced breathing, swallowing, speaking, seeing, and comfort
Low Back Machine Spinal Erectors Able to hold torso erect for better posture, physiological function, ambulation, and comfort.
Compound Row Machine Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Biceps Able to hold shoulders square for better posture, physiological function and comfort.
Triceps Press Machine Triceps, Pectoralis Major, Deltoids Able to push against chair arms to assist legs in rising from and lowering to wheelchairs or chairs.
Leg Press Machine Quadriceps ,Hamstrings, Gluteus Maximus Able to lift body up from and down to wheelchairs or chairs. Able to walk without losing balance or falling.

Table 2. Changes in body composition, muscle strength, joint flexibility and functional ability for elderly exercisers following 14 weeks of strength training (N=19).

Parameter Pre-Training Post-Training Percent Change Difference
Bodyweight 130.2 lbs 131.2 lbs + 1.0 lbs 0.8 %
Percent Fat 22.7 % 20.5 % – 2.2 %* 9.7 %
Fat Weight 29.7 lbs 26.8 lbs – 2.9 lbs* 9.8 %
Lean Weight 100.5 lbs 104.3 lbs + 3.8 lbs* 3.8 %
Leg Press 58.1 lbs 105.3 lbs + 47.2 lbs* 81.2 %
Triceps Press 37.9 lbs 52.6 lbs + 14.7 lbs* 38.8 %
Shoulder Flexibility 100.0 deg 109.4 deg + 9.4 deg* 9.4 %
Hip Flexibility 29.0 deg 44.3 deg + 15.3 deg* 52.8 %
FIM Score 77.5 pts 88.5 pts + 11.0 pts* 14.2 %

* Statistically significant difference (p<0.05)

About the author:
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., C.S.C.S, is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and Club Industry magazines.

Where Does The Pain Come From?


Acute and chronic pain are ailments suffered by many each day. Pain can be debilitating and destructive to human lives. Therefore, an understanding where pain comes from is the first step in the healing and prevention process.

Where Does The Pain Come From?

There exists small pain nerve endings in all tissues around the body. However, certain tissues seem to be consistent causes of more chronic pain situations. For example, most people do not have primary chronic skin or muscle pain.

However, these tissues can be a source of pain, as most of us know, from sunburn or a pulled muscle. These conditions do not typically become chronic sources of pain. Many people suffer from chronic spinal pain syndromes, including neck pain, middle back pain, low back pain, and arm and leg pain scenarios. Many of the arm and leg pain situations are referred pain syndromes primarily caused by spinal dysfunctions.

There are a couple of specific spinal tissues that are the most common sources of chronic pain, as described by the current scientific literature (and by this authors clinical experience). These tissues include the intervertebral discs (the pads of the spine that separate the bones), and the joint ligaments (the joints are the structures that allow motion and function much like a knuckle of the hand).

Different Types Of Injuries

There is a basic yet important difference between skin and muscle, and discs and joint ligaments. Skin and muscle have a rich vascular supply. When skin and muscle are injured, they bleed a lot, and heal quickly typically without residual. Discs have no blood supply after age 20, and joint ligaments have a poor blood supply. This means that when these tissues are injured, they bleed poorly or don’t bleed at all, and their healing is slow and inadequate.

These discs and ligaments heal with a cheap grade of the original tissue called scar tissue, and scar tissue is weaker, stiffer, and more sensitive than the original tissue. The more scar tissue that exists, the greater the chance of having chronic pain syndromes and tissues that transmit pain with little aggravations, such as movement of the barometric pressure (bad weather).

The discs and joint ligaments of the spine are injured from two causes:

– Acute injuries such as sports, lifting something too heavy, auto accidents, and slips and falls.

– Chronic poor postures coupled with lack of spinal hygiene.

In most cases the problems with spines of most people arise from combinations of acute injuries and chronic poor posture plus lack of spinal exercise and flexibility. This damage to the spine that accumulates over time results in higher chances of chronic pain situations. Pain nerve endings in the discs and joint ligaments will now send messages to the spinal cord and brain for the perception of pain.


Treatment, either at home or with a health care provider, should focus on the reduction of scar tissue, spinal flexibility exercises and rehabilitation, and prevention of further injury and aggravation through better posture awareness and better spinal habits at work, school, home, and in sports. A combination of health care provider treatment, flexibility, and further injury prevention will conservatively handle most problems without drugs or surgery, and significantly reduce human suffering.

The news unfortunately can be worse. Incoming pain information from peripheral tissues comes into the spinal cord and goes up to the brain in a particular spinal cord pathway. However, this pathway communicates with a variety of different structures as it ascends to the brain. As spinal joint function decreases, the flexibility of each joint and the small muscles of the spine also decrease.

In the discs and joint ligaments of the spine exists another type of nerve receptor called a mechanoreceptor. In muscles, the receptor is called a muscle spindle. The mechanoreceptor functions as a motion detector. If you move a joint and stretch the tissues, you fire off these motion detectors called mechanoreceptors.

The mechanoreceptor can be considered a “good guy”, as it provides necessary information to allow for proper brain function. Bear in mind that the brain is the center that inhibits pain and promotes health. Therefore, as spinal joint flexibility decreases, and scar tissue formation increases, you decrease the amount of motion detector information to the brain.

It is well established in the current medical literature that an increase in pain traffic and a decrease in mechanoreceptor traffic can result in a host of neurological and visceral problems, resulting in a decrease in the health of that person. Therefore, pain is only a symptom of many other detrimental activities that may be happening in the nervous system.

For example, a child usually does not come to a chiropractor’s office complaining of chronic musculoskeletal aches and pains. However, it is very common to have a child present to a chiropractor’s office with complaints of ear infections, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, asthma, allergies, cognitive/learning disabilities, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome.

These conditions and symptoms could have a contribution from poor spinal flexibility and function. All of us have been children, and we all have observed children, and we realize their day to day activities put tremendous stresses into their spine. This can result in a loss of spinal function, which results in a loss of mechanoreceptor/muscle spindle/motion detector traffic to the brain. This is very similar to poor programming of a computer.

If the computer is programmed poorly, the computer functions poorly. The same situations exist for the human brain. If the brain does not receive appropriate amounts of motion detector/mechanoreceptor traffic, it cannot possibly function at peak performance. Chiropractic treatment is focused on improving the function and flexibility of the discs, muscles, and spinal joints, which improves motion.

Improved motion stimulates mechanoreceptors and muscle spindles, firing up areas in the brain that improve function, promote healing, and inhibit pain. At my office I also teach patients spinal specific flexibility exercises, good posture habits at work, home, school, and with sports, and good spinal hygiene when it comes to lifting and bending, and proper dietary habits which can also help all of the conditions mentioned here.

These instructions are designed to speed up the healing response, reduce treatment time, and prevent further problems while also improving overall health and longevity.

About the author:
If you or someone you know suffers from pain, and would like more information, call me at (781) 933-3332
Please share this information with your physicians, health care practitioners, family and friends.
Created by: Dr. Scott Fuller, D.C., C.C.S.T.
Fuller Chiropractic
576 Main Street
Woburn, MA 01801

Why Supplement? – Because You Care About Quality of Life…


Most people frown upon the very mention of supplementation, but this article is meant to change this perspective and show that we do need it to be healthy and fit.

Benefits Of Supplementation

Here are some of the benefits of supplementation:

Supplementation Helps to Correct Nutrient Deficiencies

  • Modern diets are devoid of adequate daily nutritional requirements.
  • Nutrient deficiencies make us prone to infections, obesity and disease.
  • Supplementation helps to overcome the negative effects of poor eating habits.

Supplementation Helps to Replenish What’s Missing in Food

  • Depleted soils, pesticides and refining processes lower nutrient content in food.
  • Processing, transporting and storing foods reduces nutrient content even further.
  • Supplementing with high quality plant enzymes, whole food vitamins and chelated minerals can help to replace the vital nutrients your body needs.

Supplementation Helps to Combat Environmental Stress

  • Inadequate chemical disposal and environmental waste increase health stress.
  • Chemically treated food can lead to disease and premature aging.
  • Increased electromagnetic fields (e.g. microwaves, cellular phones, computers, etc.) can weaken the immune system.
  • Supplementation with antioxidants gives you the ammunition to fight back.

Supplementation Helps to Fulfill 21st Century Lifestyle Nutritional Needs

  • The rigors of stress compromise bodily function and can deplete vital nutrients.
  • The use of oral contraceptives, heavy exercise, alcohol consumption, certain drugs, pregnancy and lactation, and other activities in today’s busy lifestyles increase the level of stress.
  • Supplementation can help to overcome nutrient depletion from lifestyle stress.

Supplementation Helps to Decrease Risk of Disease and Reduce Health Costs

  • Degenerative diseases comprise the top four causes of death in America.
  • Americans averaged more than $3,000 per person on health care in 1993.
  • Supplementation can help to overcome nutrient depletion from lifestyle stress, decrease the risk of chronic disease, and significantly reduce health costs.

The most commonly asked nutrition question is “Do I really need to use a supplement?” The answer is conclusively “Yes.” Nutritional supplementation can improve your health as well as your nutritional status.

The health risk of supplements is absolutely minimal when compared to the risks of prescription drugs. In the last 50 years there has been just one recorded death (a massive overdose) due to nutritional supplements. In contrast, approximately 125,000 people die every year from prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are, of course, often necessary to battle disease once it attacks, but proper nutrition, including supplementation, is necessary to help prevent those same diseases from attacking.

The five primary reasons to supplement are:

  1. To correct nutrient deficiencies and/or make up for poor dietary choices.
  2. To replenish what is missing in your foods (vitamins, minerals, enzymes, flora, and antioxidants).
  3. To provide your body with the nutrition necessary to combat today’s environmental stresses.
  4. To meet the higher nutritional needs of today’s lifestyle.
  5. To decrease your risk of chronic disease and reduce health care costs.

1. Supplementation can correct nutrient deficiencies and help make up for poor dietary choices.

Many people think that nutritional deficiencies are only found in third world countries where children are starving. The reality is that over 90% of Americans are deficient in some vitamin or mineral, yet more than 33% of the population is obese.

We are an overfed and undernourished society. The nutrient deficiencies created by our “modern” diet cause the body to be more prone to viruses, disease, infections, obesity, allergies, headaches, stress, strokes, fatigue, ulcers, bowel and colon problems, tumors, cancer, kidney failure, heartburn, a weak immune system, arthritis, blood pressure problems, heart attacks, and growth and circulation problems to name a few.
Today’s “modern” diet does not provide enough of the nutrients we need.

Only 9% of the population consumes the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The 1997 World Health Report stated that our “modern” diet is too high in fat, sugar, sodium, and saturated fat, and doesn’t provide enough vitamins, minerals or fiber to meet our nutritional needs. “World-wide, the adoption of this diet has been accompanied by a major increase in coronary heart disease, stroke, various cancers, diabetes and other chronic diseases.”

Our “modern” diet is leaving our bodies devoid of vital nutrients, making us more susceptible to all types of diseases. Nutritional supplementation is essential to correct nutrient deficiencies and to overcome the effect of poor dietary choices.

2. Supplementation can help replenish what’s missing in your foods.

Today’s food supply no longer supplies your body with enough of the key nutrients required for optimum health. Depleted soils, modern growing techniques, preservatives, as well as the cooking and refining processes, all result in lower nutrient content in the foods.

Soil depletion and modern growing techniques have depleted the mineral content of our foods. For example, USDA tests showed spinach in 1948 with 158 milligrams of iron per 100 grams. The iron content of raw spinach today is 2.7 milligrams per 100 grams. The nutrient content of food is reduced even further during processing, transport and storage. The refining process removes 70 to 75% of the minerals from our grains. Cooking food reduces its nutritional value by destroying 20 to 50% of vitamins, all of the enzymes, some amino acids, and “leaches” the minerals.

By supplementing with high quality plant enzymes, whole food vitamins and chelated minerals, you can start to replace what is missing in your food.

3. Supplementation can help provide your body with the nutrition necessary to combat environmental stresses.

With today’s polluted environment and high-stress lifestyles, there are more reasons than ever for taking nutritional supplements. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 60,000 chemicals have been buried or dumped throughout the U.S. over the last hundred years, and there are over 3000 different carcinogenic chemicals found in our foods.

These chemicals enter your body and begin to attack your tissues and cells, which can lead to disease and premature aging. In addition to the effects of these carcinogenic chemicals, smog, pollution and depletion of the ozone layer create free radicals, which constantly bombard us and attack our cells. Even common items such as cell phones, televisions, and computers create free radicals.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that “attack” healthy cells, weakening the cell membranes and leading to disease and degeneration. Over 85 diseases, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, cataracts and emphysema, have been linked to free radical damage. Free radicals and other environmental stresses are greater today than they ever have been.

Our bodies do not make enough antioxidants to combat the damaging effects of today’s world, so it is essential to supply the body with the extra support it needs. Supplementing with antioxidants gives your body the ammunition it needs to fight back against free radicals, repair damaged cells and tissues, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, increase immune function and decrease infection.

4. Supplementation can help meet the higher nutritional needs of today’s lifestyle.

External stress and the demands of life can seem unending. They affect virtually everyone in today’s fast-paced society, and as a result, the body’s vital functions are often compromised. Stress depletes crucial nutrients and creates a higher demand for specific vitamins and minerals. Unless these nutrients are replenished, a host of stress-related symptoms and diseases can arise.

Besides stress, all of the following increase your nutrient requirements: oral contraceptive use, heavy exercise, use of cell phones and computers, alcohol consumption, exposure to radiation, some degenerative diseases, certain drugs, cardiac failure, pregnancy and lactation. These increased needs are not easily met by food, especially considering the low nutrient content of today’s food supply. The increased nutritional needs of today’s lifestyle can only be met through proper supplementation.

5. Supplementation can help decrease your risk of chronic disease and reduce health care costs.

The top four killers in America are not drunk drivers, violent killings, AIDS, or illegal drugs. Number one is the non-contagious degeneration of the heart called cardiovascular disease. Other non-contagious diseases are numbers 2, 3, and 4. The war on these diseases has cost billions of dollars and years of research, and yet the death rates continue to increase, instead of decrease.

Chronic Diseases

The chronic disease statistics reported in The World Health Report are incredible:

  • Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA.
  • Sudden blood clots in arteries (strokes) occur in about 500,000 people a year in the U.S. and for about 150,000 of those people, the stroke is fatal. About 2 million American’s daily lives are affected by stroke-related disabilities.
  • 58 million people in the US have hypertension – a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.
  • Nearly a million cancer cases are found each year in people in the U.S.
  • Approximately 16 million Americans have diabetes, the severest forms of which cause kidney damage, limb damage, and other cardiovascular damage.
  • 1.5 million broken bones a year have been identified as partially caused by weak and brittle bones due to osteoporosis. It is estimated that 20 million Americans over the age of 45 are affected by osteoporosis.
  • 34 million Americans are obese. Obesity is associated with a higher mortality rate, and is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Even more astounding than the chronic disease statistics is the amount of money spent on health care for preventable diseases. Americans spent over $3,000 per person in 1993 for health care. Japan and Sweden spent less than half that amount and yet their life expectancy and infant mortality rates are respectively first, second or third; America’s is 16th and 17th. Reviewing this data reveals a distinct trend – the countries with greater use and history of natural medicine rank much higher than the U.S.

Economists estimate that by increasing our intake of vitamins and minerals, we would reduce health care costs by 25% for cardiovascular disease, 16-30% for a variety of cancers, and 50% for cataracts. The simplest and most effective way to increase nutrient intake and reduce health care costs is through supplementation. This fact is strongly supported by scientific research studies.

Why Supplement?

Once you examine the facts, the question is no longer “why supplement?” but rather “why wouldn’t you supplement?”. Whether you need to correct a deficiency, want to improve your health and nutritional status, want to make up for poor diet and a stressful lifestyle, or you want to reduce your risk of disease, supplementation is crucial.

Nutritional supplementation can provide nutrient enrichment, improve digestion and help with detoxification. People feel healthier and more energetic when they take supplements. Supplements can help increase overall fitness and well-being, improve the quality of your life, protect against premature aging and support the immune system. If you care about your health, the choice is clear – supplementation is essential!

Reference: Infinity2, inc.