Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pray for American Youth

Prayer in sports --- should it be allowed or banned? There are people on both side of the issue; however, I am 100% for prayer in sports. Last time I checked, America was founded on the belief of God and the freedom of religion. Our great Nation is “One Nation Under God” ( not “One Nation Under Nothing"!
In East Brunswick, N.J., Coach Borden is defending himself in a courtroom over praying with his football team before games. Coach Wolf, a coach at Brick Township High School, supports Borden’s stance on prayer by exclaiming “When you pray, you pray that nobody gets hurt on either team. You pray that God looks after all the boys playing in the game. If that's wrong, I don't understand why." ( Based on my research regarding the issue of prayer in sports, the majority of people that were offended by prayer were the people in the stands not the players.
Gary Bergel wrote an article on the 1962 law which banned prayer in schools and stated that since that time there has been a moral decline in youth, family, and education  ( Yet, a 2008 Gallup poll revealed that 94% of Americans believe in God or the existence of a universal spirit (
Should a nation founded on God really change everything that it was founded on and stands for simply to make a vocal minority happy? Is prayer hurting anyone? No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head making them pray. Coaches and players pray more than anything out of superstition. Has our great nation really come to this? If prayer is not allowed in schools and athletics then we might as well be a country that doesn’t allow the freedom of religion. Banning of prayer is the persecution of God-fearing American people.

CrossFit Games: The Fittest on Earth!

3..2..1..GO! Since the summer of 2007, the CrossFit Games, founded by Greg Glassman, have been held in California. Only 70 athletes participated during the inaugural games but since then the program has grown. The CrossFit events are sponsored by Reebok and boasted over 23,000 participants in 2011; however, this past year the popularity of the Games exploded with a whopping 69,000 fitness enthusiasts signing up to compete.
The Open, a series of workouts that rank the participants for regionals, is the initial competition of a serious and dedicated three-part season for athletes committed to CrossFit. The season kicks off with the Open, the most inclusive competition in the world; the top athletes and teams in each region (17 regions worldwide) from the Open then advance to Regionals. The best athletes and teams at Regionals are eligible to compete at the Reebok CrossFit Games, the world’s premier test to find the Fittest Athlete on Earth.
The three-part CrossFit season provides three categories for participants: Individual (men/women), Team, and Masters. The CrossFit Games are designed so that only the top 100 of the fittest men and women in the world advance to the games. The best part about the Reebok CrossFit Games is the athletes do not know their work outs in advance; so only the best and fittest athlete can truly win the competition.
The 2013 Reebok CrossFit Season starts on March 6th. Check the website to keep updated on the Games. Updates include information on the athletes, performance status, live footage of the Regionals as well as the Reebok Games, and the most importantly you can keep up with the leaderboard. Mark your calendar; you are not going to want to miss the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games!

Diabetes: 3-Day Challenge

Diabetes is a rapidly growing disease.  According to the American Diabetes Association 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—(8.3% of the population)—have diabetes.  Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to:
·        Heart Disease and Stroke
·        High Blood Pressure
·        Blindness
·        Kidney Disease
·        Nervous System Disease (Neuropathy)
·        Amputation
Challenges of Type II Diabetes - Working in the pharmaceutical industry, I see the challenges everyday that people with Type 2 diabetes and healthcare providers must face on a daily basis. Type 2 diabetes is a serious metabolic disorder that requires difficult lifestyle issues to be addressed by those battling the disease.   Diabetes is not a disease that can be easily fixed with a shot or pill.  Patients with diabetes must be proactive in their lifestyle choices- as it relates to physical activity and proper nutrition.  For those who wish to truly beat this terrible disease, diet and daily exercise can slow or even reverse the progression of Type 2 diabetes.
My 3-Day Experience of Living with Diabetes - As part of my pharmaceutical training, I had to ‘live’ as a diabetic patient for three days.  Let me tell you, the challenges I experienced were greater than I ever expected.   I carried a blood glucose monitor to check my blood sugar and t is not fun to have to prick your finger several times a day!  I also gave myself saline injections as would a diabetic who required insulin.  Every meal was a mental chore as I had to pay close attention to all food intake and counted carbohydrates at every meal.  Although I did not experience the blood sugar highs (hyperglycemia) and lows (hypoglycemia) that diabetics encounter on a daily basis, I learned enough during my 3-Day challenge to fully realize that living as a Type 2 diabetic is both demanding and difficult.
I would strongly encourage anyone who may be at risk for diabetes, pre-diabetic, or diagnosed to please take this disease seriously and realize that you do have control over the wrath of this horrible disease.  Exercise, eat nutritious well-balanced meals, and spend time researching reputable sources for information and advice.  Take the necessary steps to take control of Type 2 diabetes before it takes control of you?

Yoga and Golf

The main goals of most golfers are to get more distance with your clubs and to lower their score. Yoga can benefit a golfer by increasing strength, flexibility, stability, and balance.
As a collegiate athlete, I practiced yoga during the time I played competitive golf and noticed an increased distance of about 5 to 8 yards with each of my clubs. I also found that my yoga experiences allowed me to be more focused during competition which had a positive impact on my game.  Yoga can be a valuable discipline to work into your exercise routine; it is almost guaranteed to improve your overall athletic ability and help your golf game.  Listed below are three poses that will benefit a golfer’s game.
·         Tree Pose
§  Standing up you will place your weight on your right leg and place your left foot on your calf or thigh depending on your capability. Raise hands about your head and breathe.
§  Benefit: The golfer will gain better balance for their stance, during the swing, and with their finish.
·         Plank Pose
§   Start on your hands and knees. Hands flat on the ground with your shoulders over your wrist you will walk your feet back till your body forms a straight line. Your arms will be extended. Try not to poke your butt high into the air and the opposite not letting your back sagging.
§  Benefit: This will help the golfer get strength in the core which will lead to an increase in distance.
·         Downward Facing Dog
§  Start on your hands and knees. Lift your knees away from the ground and keep knees slightly bent. Pressing your heels into the ground. Your body will be in a v shape with your butt high in the air.
§  Benefit: This will help the golfer stretch out those tight hamstrings from all of the walking on the course.

Olympic Lifting and CrossFit: Peak Performance & Life Enhancement

Peak performance refers to an athlete’s state of physical ability to perform at max capacity within a sport. But peak performance can also refer to an individual living life as healthy and fit as possible. Olympic style lifting has been a staple for most all elite athletes as a means of enhancing their careers. Olympic lifting has also been changing the lives of everyday people through the popular workout regimen or sport known as CrossFit.

Olympic lifting is an explosive type of strength training that involves moving heavy loads at high velocities to produce high power outputs (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1999). In a study comparing the strength and power of Olympic lifters, power lifters, and sprinters it was shown that Olympic lifters had the greatest power output and equal or greater strength than the other groups (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1999).  Look at the body of any Olympic lifter and you will see a fit healthy looking individual. But what about those individuals who use CrossFit as their primary mode of training --- do they reap the same power and strength benefits as Olympic lifters?

What is CrossFit? It’s the combination of Olympic style lifting, body weight exercises, and various strength exercises. CrossFit is the newest craze in the world of fitness and benefits people of all ages who desire to ‘get fit’. Is it the Olympic lifting that provides such immediate success to the CrossFit participants? Or is it the body weight exercises? Maybe it’s the strength exercises? In my opinion, it is the combination of all three with the major emphasis being given to the focus on Olympic lifting.

I saw dramatic changes in my own physical appearance once I added Olympic lifting to my routine. In the end, the Olympic style of lifting is a great way to stay healthy, fit, and can help reach peak performance. Give it a try and see what it can do for you!

McBride, J.M., T. Triplett-McBride, A. Davie, and R.U. Newton. A comparison of strength and power characteristics between power lifters, Olympic lifters, and sprinters. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 13(1):58–66. 1999.

Fitness a Priority for Kinesiology Majors

A study by Buckworth & Nigg (2004) found that college students spend an average of 30 hours a week engaged in sedentary behaviors.  Although most colleges have fitness facilities and offer a multitude of different activities for students to participate in, many students may have a difficult time juggling school, fitness and social life. In order to make fitness a priority, Kinesiology majors at Tarleton State University are required to rank in the 40th percentile or higher in each fitness category according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines. Achieving the health-related fitness standards according to the appropriate gender and age category is required as a condition of graduation.  Students have to pass mandatory health-related fitness testing which include cardiorespiratory endurance (1.5 mile run), muscular strength (bench press and leg press), muscular endurance (sits-ups) and flexibility (sit & reach).  The better the students perform on these tests, the higher grade they receive in the class.

Health-related fitness data has been collected from the 2012 Summer and Spring semesters at Tarleton’s Clinical Exercise Research Facility on these tests, as well as body mass index, blood pressure and body fat percentage.  The data reveals that females ranked higher than males on the health related fitness testing, with the exception of body fat percentage and upper body strength.  Pribis et al. found similar numbers in body mass index, body fat, and blood pressure in college age students who were required to complete a fitness evaluation. They also stated that females were likely to rank higher on fitness testing than males.  It is unknown if the differences in percentile ranking between genders is due to lack of exercise training or lack of central motivation. Tarleton State University is the only school in the Lone Star Conference that requires health-related fitness testing as a condition of graduation for Kinesiology students. Kinesiology majors need to be able to “practice what they preach,” so it is essential that these tests are incorporated in the curriculum of all kinesiology majors.


Buckworth J, Nigg C. Physical activity, exercise, and sedentary behavior in college students. J. Am College Health; 2004;53:28-34.
Pribis P, Burtnack CA, McKenzie SO, Thayer J. Trends in body fat, body mass index and physical fitness among male and female college students. Nutr. 2010;2:1075-1085

Nike’s New Technology: Flyknit

Nike has been the top footwear company since its existence in the late 70s, and has made tremendous gains on the technology of performance shoes, specifically in the running department. In 2007, Nike introduced their new Flywire technology, a shoe that is supported by strong wires with minimal weight.

As advanced as the Flywire is, Nike had developed a new technology called Flyknit. As the name entails, the shoe’s upper looks as though it’s been knitted by hand. The shoe has a breathable mesh pattern without any unnecessary seams. This Flyknit concept was developed for road racing shoes to allow athletes to receive the snuggest fit possible. The Flyknit Lunar Racer weighs in at 5.6 oz, making it an ideal lightweight racing shoe for the best marathoners in the world. London’s marathon silver medalist, Abel Kirui wore the Flyknit racers this past summer, along with many other top Nike athletes.

Currently, this technology is also offered in a similar lightweight training shoe, the Flyknit Lunar 1+. The price tag on these shoes is a bit steep, at $150. However, if this knitting technology is as strong as the Flywire, it may be well worth it. It will be interesting to see if Nike uses this technology for other sport specific footwear as we saw with the Flywire. 

The “Go” Muscles

As discussed in my last segment, the posterior chain is absolutely essential to athletic performance.  The posterior chain is made up of the low back, glutes, and hamstrings.  In athletics, the posterior chain is arguably the most important muscle group in the human body.  Unfortunately, it is often the weakest and most under-developed area in most athletes.  The posterior chain is what allows an athlete to jump and generate explosive force (Woodrup, 2008).

High school is typically when many kids begin weight training and more often than not, these kids are left to figure things out on their own.  Walk into a typical high school weightroom and you will likely find teenagers piled around the bench press taking turns maxing out and doing every curl variation known to man, leaving the platforms and racks to collect dust.  In return, these athletes find themselves pulling hamstrings, blowing out knees, and spending much of their season in the training room.

Can this be avoided?  Absolutely it can!  The answer lies in posterior chain development.  Injuries are going to happen.  It’s the nature of sports.  However, a sound strength and conditioning program can limit the frequency of these injuries.  Not only will a strong posterior chain keep you healthy, but will also help punish the opposition.  The posterior chain contains the highest ratios of fast-twitch muscle fibers in the human body and these muscles are typically the biggest and have the greatest strength potential (Woodrup, 2008).

Athletes are competitive, always looking for ways to stay ahead of the game.  I believe the answer lies in training the muscles of the low back, glutes, and hamstrings through movements such as squats, glute-ham raises, Romanian deadlifts, and rows just to name a few.  These exercises will allow you to run faster, jump higher, and stay on the field.

Woodrup, J. (2008). Posterior Chain Versus Anterior Chain: Which is more important?  Retrieved from                                               

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Harlem Shake Dance Craze

The Harlem Shake has taken over the internet! Starting February of 2013, people everywhere have been uploading their own version of the Harlem Shake dance to YouTube. Typical videos begin with one or two people randomly dancing to the Baauer song “Harlem Shake” while others around seem oblivious. Once the beat drops, the video quickly changes to a room full of people dancing around in crazy costumes. For most, creating Harlem Shake videos are fun and harmless. However, some videos have crossed the line and participants may find themselves paying a high price for a few seconds of inappropriate dance moves. Such is the case for student-athletes who have taken the ‘shake’ too far and marred the reputation of their schools.

Nyack-Tappen Zee Hockey Team. Hockey players on the Nyack-Tappan Zee (NY) team were forced to forfeit their chance of winning the high school hockey playoffs after the team uploaded their locker room version of the Harlem Shake. The video was deemed inappropriate by school and athletic administrators.  
Calvary Baptist Academy Baseball Team.  Athletes from a parochial school in Shreveport, Louisiana were suspended after uploading a video of their team members ‘shaking’ to Baauer’s popular song.  The school considered the video inappropriate due to lack of clothing and raunchy dancing.
Susquehanna University Athletes. Mimicking sexual acts while performing the Harlem Shake resulted in 11 athletes from Susquehanna University, located in Philadelphia, to be suspended from the athletic program.  The offending students, football and track athletes, filmed the video in the University’s weight room.
You Make the Call.  Do you think the videos were inappropriate or harmless fun?  Take a look at the videos and decide for yourself.  But first a word of caution --- some of the videos may be considered unsuitable for young children:  Nyack-Tappen Zee (, Calvary Baptist Academy (, and Susquehanna University (
Although most Harlem Shake videos are tame and lighthearted, it is important to remember that all actions come with consequences particularly when posted online for the entire world to witness.

4-Vertical: Not Just “Everybody Go Deep”

When football fanatics hear "vertical" or "streak route", they might think of the quarterback throwing deep to his receiver down the sideline. However, the 4-vertical concept actually attacks the safeties. The deep outside routes can still be thrown based upon matchup, but the concept is to throw to the route the free safety doesn’t go to.      

Texas Tech's last drive against Texas in 2008 was a good example of the 4-vertical. Although the Red Raiders called 4-verticals (or “six” in their playbook) on almost every play of the drive, they never connected on the seam routes or attempted a deep throw. Instead they hit the outside receivers on "fade stop" routes, including on Michael Crabtree's famous game winner. According to Mike Leach at the 2009 Angelo Coaching Clinic, Tech's technique tells the receiver to go deep, but if he can't get deep and if the defender is in press coverage with his back to the quarterback, the quarterback will rifle the ball to the back of the defender's head and let the receiver stop and make a play. 

The 4-vertical route combination carries some dynamic aspects, most notably the use of a "bender receiver”, or an inside receiver who will "bend" to a post route when the middle of the field is "open". For example, when the defense has two deep safeties on the hashes (rather than a single one down the middle) the slot receiver will stay on the seam route up the hashmark when there is a deep middle safety, as with Cover Three. The "bender" receiver is given a far more than complicated "seam read," which gives him a wider variety of options to get open against the deep coverage or to come underneath the safeties if they play too deep. Also, the outside receivers are given "streak reads” so they are not locked into just going deep. They can stop and come back to the ball if the defender plays them deep.
The 4-vertical is a staple of nearly every modern passing scheme. My hope is that this will give ideas to coaches who typically send four guys down field without specific plays or instruction. The video below should help convey the coaching points of the 4-vertical concept.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Flexibility & Good Health

Flexibility is a major component of physical fitness. Flexibility allows for  efficiency while performing daily activities as well as prevents injury and aids in maintaining full range of motion. Other perks of being flexible include the reduction of lower back pain and muscle soreness along with improvement of posture, muscle coordination, and overall quality of everyday movements. By becoming more flexible, we are able to perform every day movements such as sitting, standing, walking up stairs, lifting and lowering heavy items without placing undo strain on our back.

How does a person become more flexible? By incorporating stretching into a daily routine, a person can start to see a difference in their level of flexibility in just a few weeks. A few easy ways to become more flexible include:

· Neck Stretch – Looking side to side, as well as up and down, to improve full range of motion in neck.

· Upper Back Stretch – Stretch each arm across your chest for 5 to 10 minutes daily.Back Stretch – Stand with arms hanging at your sides, and twist slowly at the trunk from side-to-side several times.

· Hamstring & Hip Flexor Stretch – Sit with one leg stretched outward and the opposite foot pulled to the inside of the knee; reach for toes and hold stretch for 10 seconds.

· Back, Shoulder, and Calve Stretches – Throughout the day, even while sitting at work, often flex hands, and feet to improve flexibility in arms, legs and back.

· Hip Flexor Stretch – Hold a deep lunge position, and then straighten back leg, while reaching for the sky.

Good flexibility will not happen overnight, but you can improve by incorporating a consistent stretching routine into your daily life.  Stretch for good health!

The Ban on Native American References in Sports

In May 2012, the Oregon State Board of Education implemented legislation which required schools to eliminate the use of Native American names as well as references to tribal customs or traditions.  Political correctness appears to be the underlying rationale for the new legislation. The use of Native American names and mascots were often racist and created negative stereotypes which were directed towards Native American students. Examples of negative team mascots included: Redskins – referred to skin color and also signified the blood on the body after a battle; Savages – referred to the violent nature and lack of sophistication. However, many Native Americans were proud of the names and viewed the mascots as a way to honor their history. 
The Financial Fall-Out.  The new legislation will cost Oregon taxpayers thousands of dollars as districts are required to erase all references to Native American names from buildings and athletic programs. As it relates to athletics, think about the cost factor as programs must purchase new uniforms, replace logos and signage, modify court and field surfaces, and warehouse old trophies, newspaper clippings, and honor walls.  It should be noted that the legislature only provided five years for these changes to be made; schools must remove all reference to Native Americans by July 2017.
The Forgotten Groups. If it is offensive to Native Americans to use their nicknames and mascots, do the Greeks and Romans have the same argument in the usage of their heritage as a name logo? Why is there NO controversy surrounding the Trojans of the University of Southern California (USC) or the Michigan State University Spartans?  What about Notre Dame’s use of the Fighting Irish mascot?  Are those of Irish decent not offended by the notion that all Irishmen are violent and looking for a brawl?
You Make the Call.  As a relatively young nation, the United States has very little history compared to other nations.  Should we celebrate the original inhabitants of this nation? Are Native Americans owed a sense of gratitude and recognition for their role in American history?  Eliminating all reference to Native Americans seems irresponsible and revisionist. Has political correctness gone too far?

Resurgence in American Distance Running

For years, Africans have dominated every track event from 800m to the marathon. However, Americans are finally finding their way onto the podium at the Olympics and World Championships. This past summer, Galen Rupp’s silver medal finish in the 10,000m was America’s first medal in the event since Billy Mills in 1964. Leonel Manzano, a Texas native, earned 1500m silver in the 2012 London Olympics; it was the first American medal in the event since legendary Jim Ryun’s silver in 1968. A year prior, at the World Outdoor Championships in Daegu, Korea, Jenny Simpson won the 1500m, the first American female to win since 1983.

As surreal as it is, America is still producing world-class athletes, even on the junior-level stage. The recent buzz in track and field surrounds 16-year old New Yorker, Mary Cain. Mary recently smashed two national high school records in the two-mile and mile run, respectively. She shredded the previous record of 9:55.92, set back in 1991, to a blistering 9:38.68 at the New Balance Grand Prix on February 2, 2013. A week later, she broke her own mile record by over 4 seconds with an astonishing 4:28.25.

There is no question that American distance running is back. But the question remains:  Can America keep producing world medals and new records? With the indoor season wrapping up and the outdoor season near, time will only tell.

40-Day Yoga Challenge Completed

In my previous blogs, I discussed Yoga in the NFL as well as my personal 40-Day Hot Yoga Challenge and  Now that I have completed my 40 day journey, I understand why professional athletes are making yoga a part of their regular training.  As I worked through these 40-days, I experienced everything from physical transformation to mental relaxation.
Although my days were busier than usual as I jugged a full-time job, full-time graduate school and 75-minutes of hot yoga a day, I managed to have more energy and get more accomplished in the past 40 days than I could have ever imagined.  My increased energy as well as my new-found mental positivity and clarity have taken me to a whole other level in my professional career and my personal relationships.  I have a renewed sense of spirit and calmness each morning as I awake to take on the day ahead.
40 days of Hot Yoga has also increased my strength significantly.  And, I have shed four pounds, plus decreased an inch on my waist and half an inch on my thighs.  I have never experienced a physical transformation so quickly and I cannot imagine my life without yoga.  I challenge anyone to try Yoga or Hot Yoga……you won’t regret it!

Home Workouts for the Entire Family

       Do you want to experience a fun and exciting workout? Are you tired of the same boring routine? Consider home workouts that the entire family can enjoy in the comfort and privacy of their own living room. Nintendo video games provide a modern twist to improve your health and fitness while providing a family bonding experience. The Nintendo Wii provides users with gaming options that involve aerobic exercises, yoga, strength training and even ways of cooling down after workouts. One game I really like is My Fitness Coach. This game provides the user with a virtual trainer who will coach the participants through a variety of cardiovascular exercises to get your family up and moving.
          The Nintendo DS provides games like What’s Cooking with Jamie Oliver and Gourmet Chef to promote healthy eating habits and recipes that the whole family can enjoy. These games give families a plethora of healthy recipes that can be put together to make a healthy meal of your choice. Why go out and buy books about healthy eating when you can discover the same thing on a video game at a much cheaper price? Families are able to save money and get to spend quality time together.
        Dance, box, or ski your way to good health with the Nintendo Wii or DS.  Who knew video games could provide a fun, wholesome workout or just a good meal at the end of the day for the entire family?