Wednesday, March 5, 2014


“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”

~The Dalai Lama

Lori Dotson

Saturday, December 14, 2013

When to Stretch: Before or After Exercise?

Reprinted from "DotsoFit Health and Fitness" with permission from the author  Buy the Book

While most agree that it is good to stretch after athletic activity, there has always been some disagreement over whether it is necessary or even beneficial to stretch beforehand. Now, new research shows that stretching before activity may not only be unnecessary, but it may actually do more harm than good under certain circumstances. Research has shown that static stretching may reduce both muscle strength and performance, even putting the athlete at risk for injury. Static stretching is defined as passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for at least 30 seconds.3

Static stretching causes a reduction in muscle strength that can last up to two hours, leading most researchers to recommend against static stretching prior to activities requiring high levels of strength and power.4,5,6,7 The official position of the National Academy of Sports Medicine8 (NASM) is that pre-activity stretching should be limited to active-isolated and dynamic stretches unless muscular imbalances are present that may impede proper movement and limit the range of motion. In these cases, NASM recommends static stretching to address only the muscular imbalances, followed up with active-isolated and dynamic stretching after the muscular imbalances have been cured. Active-isolated stretching involves using agonists (prime mover muscles) and synergists (“helping” muscles) to move a limb through the full range of motion while their functional antagonist (opposing muscle) is being stretched.9 Dynamic stretching is active extension of a muscle, using force production and momentum, to move the joint through the full available range of motion.10

Static stretching before athletic activity has been shown to decrease balance, reaction times, movement times, and jump height leading researchers to conclude that static stretching before activity decreases performance. However, research also shows that a regular program of stretching improves athletic performance. It is important to make the distinction—it is the acute effect of static stretching before athletic activity that decreases performance. Chronic stretching (i.e., a flexibility program) should be part of an integrated performance enhancement training program11,12 that includes balance, core, plyometric, resistance, cardiorespiratory, and speed, agility, and quickness training.

Copyright © 2012, DotsoFit, LLC Buy the Book

3. Hrysomallis, Con. “Relationship Between Balance Ability, Training and Sports Injury Risk.” Sports Medicine 37.6 (2007): 547-56. 

4. Mckeon, Patrick O., Christopher D. Ingersoll, D. Casey Kerrigan, Ethan Saliba, Bradford C. Bennett, and Jay Hertel. “Balance Training Improves Function and Postural Control in Those with Chronic Ankle Instability.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 40.10 (2008): 1810-819.

5. Clark, Micheal, Scott Lucett, and Brian G. Sutton. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012. 

6. Ibid.

7. Carter, Jacqueline M., William C. Beam, Shari G. McMahan, Michelle L. Barr, and Lee E. Brown. “The Effects of Stability Ball Training on Spinal Stability in Sedentary Individuals.” The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20.2 (2006): 429.

8. Sternlicht, Eric, Stuart Rugg, Larissa L. Fujii, Keri F. Tomomitsu, and Matt M. Seki. “Electromyographic Comparison of a Stability Ball Crunch with a Traditional Crunch.” The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 21.2 (2007): 506.

9. Stanton, Robert, Peter R. Reaburn, and Brendan Humphries. “The Effect of Short-Term Swiss Ball Training on Core Stability and Running Economy.” The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 18.3 (2004): 522–528.

10. Marshall, Paul W.M., and Bernadette A. Murphy. “Increased Deltoid and Abdominal Muscle Activity during Swiss Ball Bench Press.” The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20.4 (2006): 745-750.

11. Drake, J., S. Fischer, S. Brown, and J. Callaghan. “Do Exercise Balls Provide a Training Advantage for Trunk Extensor Exercises? A Biomechanical Evaluation.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 29.5 (2006): 354-62. 

12. Marshall, P., and B. Murphy. “Evaluation of Functional and Neuromuscular Changes After Exercise Rehabilitation for Low Back Pain Using a Swiss Ball: A Pilot Study.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 29.7 (2006): 550-60.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cold-Weather Safety

Certainly, we are aware of the dangers of exercising in hot weather, but do we need to be concerned about cold weather? Well, yes. The temperature does not even need to be below freezing to cause hypothermia. Hypothermia is a decrease in body temperature that occurs when heat loss exceeds heat production. When it is cold, the body loses heat much faster and because cold air is drier (has a lower vapor pressure) moisture evaporates more quickly from the skin, further cooling the body.

Some of the factors that affect hypothermia include temperature, water vapor pressure, wind, air or water, clothing, and body fat. As discussed previously, the lower the temperature and the lower the water vapor pressure, the greater your chance for hypothermia. Wind and water are two factors that interact with temperature to facilitate heat loss from the body. The wind chill index is the equivalent temperature under calm conditions for any combination of temperature and wind speed. For a chart depicting the chilling effect of wind, see the National Weather Service website6 located at:

It is also important to consider that heat is lost 25 times faster in water than in air of the same temperature because water offers little or no insulation where it meets the skin and heat loss occurs quickly. Furthermore, movement in water (e.g., swimming) accelerates heat loss. A greater percentage of body fat (subcutaneous fat) will better insulate your body and allow you to remain in cold water for longer periods, which is why long-distance swimmers tend to have a higher percentage of body fat than short-distance swimmers (that, combined with the fact that body fat provides more buoyancy, making it easier, less energy expended, swimming those long distances).

If you encounter someone with hypothermia, it is important to act quickly (this is also true of heat-related illnesses). Waiting until the person can be taken to an emergency room can mean death. This is especially true if you do not have immediate access to medical facilities, such as when you are cross-country skiing, camping, etc., in remote locations. It is imperative to get that person out of the cold, wind, and rain, remove their wet clothing and replace it with dry clothing and/or a warm sleeping bag. Give them warm drinks and get them near a heat source. If you are in the wilderness, build a campfire or even have another person hold them to keep them warm. It is also important to keep the person awake.

If you partake of outdoor activities, dress appropriately, consider all of the factors listed above, and become better educated on how to deal with all environmental-related medical issues.

~Lori Dotson, CPT, CPFT, PES, BA, MS President, DotsoFit, LLC Copyright © 2012