FREE WALKING CLINIC – June 15 from 6pm to 7pm

We are in the process of organizing free walking classes again this year for those who need some extra incentive to get out there and walk.  Linda Meyer, Julie Cohen and myself are volunteering to lead a group of walkers 1 or  2X/week.  We plan to meet at different locations throughout the North Shore (for variety), and will give the walkers instruction on the best way to warm-up, stretch, add intervals and optimally use their bodies to get the most from the walking experience.

We plan to meet for the first session at Gillson Park (Wilmette) on Monday, June 15 from 6pm to 7pm. Depending on interest, we may also meet on Thursday, June 18.  The walkers will decide if ongoing sessions will be once or twice per week.

If you have an interest in joining our walking group, give Julie a call at 847-251-6834, or email me at


Distraction was the greatest risk factor by far for new-onset acute low back pain (LBP), according to a new case-crossover study.  The study also found that onset was most likely between 7:00 am and noon, that LBP risk was substantially increased by a number of modifiable physical and psychosocial triggers, and that people older than 60 years were less at risk from heavy loads than younger participants, perhaps because they have learned how to lift safely.

“The key message is that even brief exposure to heavy loads and awkward postures will drastically increase our chances of developing back pain,” said study coauthor.  “In other words, not only people who are exposed to lifting activities on an ongoing basis are at risk. In addition, being distracted and fatigued during manual tasks will likely increase our risk of having back pain.

The possible physical triggers for LBP studied were “heavy load; awkward positioning; handling of objects far from the body; handling people or animals and unstable loading; a slip, trip, or fall; engagement in moderate or vigorous physical activity; and sexual activity.” The possible psychosocial triggers were alcohol consumption, fatigue, and being distracted during an activity or task.

According to the study, the greatest risk for an episode of acute LBP was associated with the psychosocial trigger of being distracted during a task or activity. All of the physical triggers except sexual activity were strongly associated with increased risk for back pain.  The most dangerous physical trigger was manual tasks involving awkward positioning.  Alcohol consumption was not linked to increased risk of LBP.

An unexpected finding was that 35.2% of participants reported pain onset between 7:00 and 10:00 am. The researchers found that both morning exposure to awkward posture and manual tasks involving unstable loading in the morning were strongly associated with risk for LBP onset.

The study co-author said, “While we are not sure why back pain risk is highest in the morning, a possible explanation is that spinal discs swell with fluid overnight, and therefore the lower back will be more susceptible to stress and strains in the morning.”

“The strongest triggers were postural (how a manual task was done) and inattention towards the task at the moment of the task; therefore, present-moment awareness and mindfulness could be preventive measures.”

WHAT IS CAFFEINE?   (from ACE Health E-Tips, May 2015)

Caffeine itself is technically a psychoactive stimulant drug that is metabolized by the liver. Caffeine is absorbed through the small intestine and stomach within 30 to 45 minutes after ingestion, and can stay elevated in the system for up to three to six hours after consumption. As it’s metabolized, caffeine breaks down into three compounds that have an influence on vasodilation, triggering fat oxidation and decreasing airway constriction in the lungs (in other words, opening up ventilation). It works by stimulating the central nervous system, heart, muscles and the centers that control blood pressure. It’s no mystery that caffeine, with its stimulation of the nervous system and respiration, combined with a boost of energy, can influence sports performance in several ways. In fact, the affects of caffeine on performance have proven significant enough to result in regulation of the stimulant for sports.

The Regulation of Caffeine – As with other performance-altering chemicals and compounds, caffeine has earned itself specific regulation by several agencies and associations in the sports world. The International Olympic Committee mandates an allowable limit of 12 μg of caffeine per ml of urine. A caffeine dose in the range of 9 to 13 mg/kg approximately one hour prior to performance will reach the maximum allowable urinary concentration for competition. Caffeine consumption and urinary concentration is dependent on factors such as gender and body weight. Therefore, consuming six to eight cups of brewed coffee that contain approximately 100 mg per cup would result in the maximum allowable urinary concentration. Similarly, the National Collegiate Athletic Association considers urinary concentrations after competition that exceed 15 μg/ml to be illegal.

Recommended Limits – While it’s true that caffeine may help improve endurance and strength performance, it’s important to stay within recommended daily consumption limits. According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. Adolescents should ingest no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day and children should not consume caffeine. Adults exceeding this recommended daily limit may experience side effects such as insomnia, muscle tremors and a rapid heart beat.