[ Q ] I've been lifting for about five years. Once in a while I get a pain in the upper right of my back. I want to say that sometimes it feels like a pinched nerve, not sure though. I don't lift incorrectly or more than I can handle.
It goes away in a couple days, but sometimes the pain is sharp enough to cut off my breath if I move the wrong way. I'm wondering if you've heard of such a thing and if so, what should I do?
Rice Lake, WI
[ A ] The problem that you describe is common, especially among students and people that spend the majority of their time every day sitting.
Back pain occurs from the improper alignment of the muscles and skeleton. This improper alignment can cause a number of problems, the most common being pressure points, muscle knots, and skeletal subluxations. I am not a chiropractor, but let me explain the basics to you.
Human movement is facilitated by the muscles, and posture is supported by the muscles. When muscles become tight and lose flexibility, they exert force on the ligaments and bones they are attached to.
When this happens - when your muscles shorten and you lose range of motion - this pressure pulls your spine out of alignment, causing more muscular and spinal problems, including pinched nerves, pressure-sensitive spots and muscle knots and cramps.
Nerves move through muscle tissue, but muscle tissue must be loose for those nerves to move freely. If a muscle shortens enough upon itself, it will seize and will pinch the nerve whenever that muscle is moved, causing great pain and anguish.
I mentioned that this problem is common with students and with people who spend the majority of their days sitting. Poor posture is to blame.
Students typically spend many hours reading books and sitting at a desk where they are forced to lean foreword, thus moving the head forward and shifting their center of gravity. This shift puts great stress on the muscles of the upper back and the nerves that run from the neck into the upper back.
If these muscles are constantly fatigued because of poor posture, they will become chronically inflamed, producing muscle knots, limiting your range of movement, pinching nerves, and causing you great pain.
It is my guess that your spine is misaligned, causing the pressure that is responsible for your supraspinatus muscle inflammation. The only remedy in this situation is to seek competent medical treatment from a qualified chiropractor. A competent chiropractor with a background in exercise science or sports performance is best to treat your condition.
Chiropractic was founded by Daniel David Palmer of Davenport, Iowa, USA. Palmer is referred to by some historians as a "fish monger" because he sold goldfish commercially. It is more interesting to know that he practiced magnetic healing beginning in the mid-1880s in Burlington, Iowa.
The term chiropractic originated when Palmer asked a patient to come up with a name from the Greek language to describe his practice. Of the several names submitted to him, Palmer accepted one which combined the words chiros and praktikos (meaning "done by hand") to describe his adjustment of a vertebra in the spinal column.
When you to seek treatment, be sure that your chiropractor provides you with a stretching and exercising program that will help you rehabilitate this part of your body. Many chiropractors only perform spinal adjustments - cracking of your back - but do not expect improvement unless you address the role of your muscular system in this condition.
[ Q ] I've been bodybuilding for two years, and I've never used any supplements.
I recently purchased a tub of Labrada ProV60, and I want to know if a pre-workout shake is as important as a shake before you go to sleep at night?
United Arab Emirates
[ A ] Nutrition is the most commonly misunderstood component of the healthy lifestyle, and athletes in every sport seldom give nutrition the attention or importance that it is due, instead most athletes choose to focus on supplementation or training techniques and treat the subject of nutrition with a passing interest.
- Physical activity level
- Hormone profile [insulin, cortisol, glucagons, etc]
- Body temperature
- Body mass
- Body composition
- Blood glucose levels
- Nitrogen balance
- Contents of your last meal.
Physiological conditions vary throughout the day and during sleep, and so do nutrient requirements. Many factors influence nutrient needs, including:
When it comes to nutrition, it's important to understand that while nutrient timing is critical - i.e. consuming specific macronutrients at specific times to meet specific physiological needs - it's impossible to place greater importance on the intake of certain nutrients at certain times over the intake of other nutrients at other times.
It is equally important to get the nutrients you need pre-workout and before you go to sleep - one does not trump the other as more important for muscle-growth.
I recommend having a protein shake before your workout, and one before you go to sleep at night. Use WPI for the pre-workout shake to take advantage of the fast-acting whey protein, and use the Labrada ProV60 blend formula before sleeping to get the benefits of time-released amino acid coverage.
Just remember: as a bodybuilder, your most important task is intelligently meeting your nutritive needs at all times throughout the day. Eating enough quality calories, enough of the right proteins at the right time, and maintaining your nitrogen balance will help ensure that you build as much muscle as possible.
[ Q ] I am wondering about the steroid Winstrol. Do you take it before a workout, after a workout or when?
[ A ] The anabolic steroid Winstrol (Stanozolol) is a popular steroid with minor side effects that produces quality gains. Winstrol was introduced to the market in 1962, and has recently been popularized in the mainstream media by a now-disgraced professional baseball player.
| What Does Herein Mean?
Anabolic steroids are believed to have been inadvertently discovered by German scientists in the early 1930s, but at the time the discovery was not considered significant enough to warrant further study.
In the 1950s, however, scientific interest was rekindled, and methandrostenolone (Dianabol) was approved for use in the United States by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 1958 after promising trials had been conducted in other countries.
Winstrol is available as an injectable steroid or can be taken orally. Winstrol is a popular steroid because it cannot convert into estrogen, and users do not need to take an anti-estrogen drug while using it.
A typical dose for the oral tablets of this drug is between 15 to 25 milligrams daily, while 25 to 50 milligrams is the typical dosage range for the injected version of this drug.
Unlike many of the pre workout dietary supplements available on the market today, anabolic steroids are hormonal drugs. Whereas it is appropriate to take a pre-workout dietary supplement containing stimulants to boost energy and focus, anabolic steroids are prescription pharmaceutical drugs that must be taken at regular intervals to deliver a maximum effect. Further to this, they are available legally in the North America only with the authorization of a medical doctor.
Make no mistake: anabolic steroids are extremely powerful and must be treated with the utmost respect. If you fail to use them correctly or you fail to appreciate their power, you may end up having to deal with serious and potentially fatal long-term health consequences.
Anabolic steroid drugs are not, and should not, be used as "pre-workout boosters", or post workout recovery agents. If you want to enhance your pre-workout energy levels or to accelerate your post exercise recovery, I suggest investing in a pre-workout energy boosting formula like Super Charge by Labrada and in a quality whey protein isolate powder.
Anabolic steroids are not candy, and it's dangerous to use them flippantly.
If you're absolutely determined to use anabolic steroids, I suggest that you thoroughly research the issue before doing so that you can make informed health decisions.
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[ Q ] I'm 200lbs at 15-17% bodyfat. I do 2.5 hour karate sessions three times weekly. I can't seem to get my body fat levels to go lower. What should I do?
[ A ] I recommend that you have your body composition tested by a competent and qualified fitness professional before you modify your current physical training program. Further to this, I recommend that you consult with an ISSA certified Specialist in Performance Nutrition (SPN) to evaluate your current nutrition program.
Collecting data is important in your case because you need to determine whether excess bodyfat is obscuring your true vascularity, or whether you are retaining excess water under your skin as a result of dietary / hormonal factors.
Many times, athletes increase the intensity and frequency of their cardiovascular exercise because they want to lose bodyfat, without realizing that it is excess water that is making them look fatter than they really are.
If you have low bodyfat levels and are holding water under your skin, increasing the intensity of your exercise sessions will cause you to lose muscle tissue, putting you at risk for injury, illness and disease. You will also end up more fat in terms of body composition percentages as your muscle to bodyfat ratios change.
In terms of nutrition and supplementation, there are a number of options that may help with your situation.
Nutritionally, you can increase in your water intake, decrease carbohydrate consumption, and decrease your sodium intake.
Many processed foods like hamburgers, French fries and pizza contain high concentrations of sodium and carbohydrates. These foods are popular with the college crowds, but they destroy your results.
Excess sodium intake will cause you to retain water, and excess carbohydrate intake will elevate insulin levels, leading to an increase in bodyfat storage and estrogen levels, and a corresponding decrease in hGH secretion. This hormonal shift will cause you to simultaneously gain bodyfat, lose muscle and retain water under your skin.
Increasing your water intake is a great way to reduce water retention. Most athletes do not consume enough water, and this can cause the body to hold onto available water supplies.
By supplying the body with enough water every day, you eliminate the possibility that your body will hoard water because of a perceived state of famine.
On the supplement side of things, there are a number of nutrients and minerals that you can take that will help you lose bodyfat while preserving muscle tissue. Two of the most effective are chromium picolinate and l-carnitine.
Chromium picolinate improves insulin function and helps stabilize blood sugar levels while burning fat and preserving muscle tissue.
L-carnitine helps the body metabolize food, and it transfers long chain fatty acids into cellular mitochondria where they are burned for fuel. L-carnitine helps your body become a more efficient fat burning machine.
Both chromium picolinate and l-carnitine have long been used by athletes to boost energy levels and burn unwanted fat.
Whatever choice you make, just remember that a scientific approach to training nutrition is the best way to get results. Collect data, get professional consultation, and make informed decisions.
[ A ] Because you did not provide me with your details, I will provide a general answer that may or may not be applicable to your situation.
- Testosterone production
- DNA synthesis
- Prostate gland function
- Cellular replication
Although clinical research has established that tribulus terrestris, DHEA and ZMA are safe for human use in most cases, there are always situations where these supplements are not appropriate to use because of pre-existing health conditions or genetic susceptibility to certain disease processes.
While tribulus terrestris and ZMA are relatively benign because one is an herbal product while the other is micronutrient based, DHEA - dehydroepiandrosterone - is an active androgenic hormone that plays a key role in testosterone production and the manufacture of other hormones in males and females.
Many athletes use ZMA, tribulus terrestris and DHEA with the aim of elevating testosterone levels, thereby resulting in increases in muscle mass, decreases in bodyfat, and athletic performance enhancement.
While some clinical research has established that tribulus terrestris works well and stimulates leuteinizing hormone, thereby resulting in an increase in free and unbound testosterone, the research on the efficacy of ZMA and DHEA and athletes has been less than favorable.
If you follow the magazine advertisements, you'll probably find that they cite a study on ZMA showing a 200% increase in testosterone levels after administration. These advertisements fail to mention that this study was done on college-level football players, many of whom were deficient in zinc - a key nutrient that's involved in:
Deficiencies in vitamins minerals are quite common, primarily because of the current nutrient and mineral intake guidelines established by the United States government; these guidelines are known as the Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI's).
Unfortunately, these guidelines are the minimum intake values required to prevent diseases resulting from deficiency in members of the average population. For athletes, minimum nutrient intake guidelines are insufficient to promote superior health and superior athletic performance.
To meet the advanced nutritive needs of athletes, the PDI's - performance daily intakes - were established. These nutrient intake guidelines are gaining wider acceptance in the athletic and scientific communities, but supplement manufacturers have yet to catch-up and manufacture supplements to provide nutrients and minerals within these ranges.
Manufacturing costs and current laws are responsible for slowing progress in this area. As a result, athletes can eat well and supplement with a multivitamin and multi mineral product, but still suffer from performance impairing deficiencies.
While zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 (the combination of which constitutes the ZMA formula) are critical minerals and vitamins for basic health, there's no scientific evidence to date that shows the ZMA formulation elevates anabolic hormone levels or muscle building beyond normal ranges in athletes that already intake sufficient amounts of these vitamins and minerals.
As for DHEA, the bottom line is that there is currently no scientific evidence to support claims that this supplement elevates testosterone levels in athletes or in young men; all scientific evidence to date suggests that this supplement a suitable and effective at raising hormone levels in older men only.
In fact, young men might wish to avoid supplementing with DHEA because in addition to possibly converting into testosterone, it is equally likely that DHEA will convert into estrogenic compounds, and this can cause an increase in bodyfat levels, a loss in lean muscle tissue, and a negative impact on mood and motivation.
To summarize, none of these supplements will elevate your testosterone levels beyond normal or optimal production ranges, but of the three tribulus terrestris may prove to be the most effective and the safest for muscle building purposes.
The information provided in this publication is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Readers and consumers should review the information in this publication carefully with their professional health care provider.
The information in this or other publications authored by the writer is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, medication, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be presented in the publication. The author does not control information, advertisements, content, and articles provided by discussed third-party information suppliers.
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Copyright © Clayton South, 2005 All rights reserved.
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