Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sprinting Downhill and Labor Day Adventures

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I went camping near Yakima and went white water rafting on the Tieton River. This was us ;) just kidding
But the whole experience was extremely fun. The Tieton River is only open to white water rafting in September due to irrigation needs farther down the river (they open up a dam). At this time, this river is considered a class III/IV. No one fell out, everyone survived and we all had a blast.

After river rafting we took a hike to Twin Sisters Lake. This hike is relatively flat and a pretty short hike, but the lakes are beautiful. The only bummer was it was over an hour drive from our camp site, but we still enjoyed the scenery.

I recently heard someone mention that to increase speed you should sprint downhill. Has anyone heard of this? Sprinting uphill helps with muscular and cardiovascular strength, but what can running downhill do? So naturally, I looked it up…

As we all know, whether we are sprinting or running long distance, running requires strength, but running also requires coordination and balance. When we walk, we are going from being on 2 feet to 1 foot. Being on 1 foot requires balance. If you have ever worked with people who have had a stroke or decrease strength/proprioception in 1 leg, you would see how important balance is during walking. Running is jumping from 1 foot to the next with air time in between foot strikes. This requires a lot of coordination and balance.

My studies have taught me that walking (or running) downhill requires increase eccentric control. If you think about it, when you walk down a hill or stairs, you are breaking your movement. Well, this requires more strength from your muscles than walking up stairs (or a hill). Think about a time you were really sore. What was harder? Walking up the stairs or down the stairs?  You should have answered down the stairs because you are slowing yourself down.

Upon further research, sprinting downhill as fast as you can for approximately 40m helps increase your coordination, balance and strength and allows you to run faster. According to (which did back up this article with legitimate sources) "Sprinting downhill develops your coordination by forcing your legs to learn how to handle high speed travel. At first you'll have difficulty keeping your balance, but over time your coordination will improve in response to the increased stride rate."
So go out there and run hill repeats, both down and up a hill. But remember, like with any exercise, ease into it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Seawheeze Half Marathon and Compression Socks

On Saturday my running partner (in crime)/mother and I ran the Seawheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver BC. It was a wonderful race. Here is a little re-cap.

My mom and I headed up to Vancouver on Friday afternoon (my mom worked a half day and I currently am studying for my boards/applying for jobs). There was a lot of traffic in the afternoon, but what else do you expect.

We checked into the Delta Suites Vancouver (which I highly suggest staying in) around 5pm and proceeded immediately to pick up our race packets. Our hotel was in walking distance to the convention center (and race start), so picking up our packet was easy. The race did not give out bibs, but instead gave us bracelets with our information on them. I like that because 1.) I am so short that the bib takes up my entire torso and 2.) the bibs are just kind of annoying, especially during a long race. The rest of the night consisted of eating a carb filled dinner (maybe a glass of wine) and going to bed early.
My Mom and I selfie

The view of the water in Vancouver

The next morning was pre-race ritual as normal. Woke up, had my bagel and headed down to the race.

The race was spectacular. The start was done in waves, so I started approximately 25 mins after 7am. The views were wonderful and there was plenty of water and cheering support. This race is relatively flat with a few minor hills, so if you are looking to PR, this is a good one. I did not PR (or come close). The 1st 10 miles felt great. I was keeping up a decent pace. But right at mile 10.1 my body decided to be done. I knew this was going to happen because although I did train with long runs, I did not run enough through out the week to add up my mileage. That is okay though, I still had a wonderful time. I will be doing this race again next year!

Here are some pictures during the race. Photo source: Seawheese FB page
The start of the race

Cheer stations…Probably the best one
My mom after the race wearing the medal and the shorts you get with this race!
During the race I noticed a lot of people wearing compression socks. I have had people tell me that I should wear them and I have had people ask me what they are good for. Hey, just because I am a doctor now doesn't mean I know everything! But I do know how to look things up…so I did.
Performance manufactures claim that compression socks improve power, endurance and aid in recovery after high intensity activities.

One study found that the compression gear did not increase maximum jump height, but did help maintain a higher repetitive jump height compared to not wearing the compression gear. This means, the socks do not make you jump higher, but you will be able to sustain a higher jump height when jump over and over again. This study also reported that people reported lower rate of perceived exertion (RPE) when wearing compression gear than without compression gear. (Rugg)

Another study found that anaerobic and aerobic thresholds were more favorable with compression socks and that speed was significantly higher with compression socks than without. This article did not find a difference in HR or O2 max. (Kemmier)

Both articles suggested that compression socks have positive effects on venous hemodynamics, arterial perfusion, deeper tissue oxygenation and muscle oscillation (which means that you are getting better blood flow and more oxygen to your muscles and blood back to your heart), along with decreased muscle breakdown, fatigue, soreness with the use of compression socks. Both articles are not 100% sure how compression socks work, but they feel that there is a proprioceptive input (proprioception means knowing where your body is in space) to your muscles making them more efficient.

The second article stated that there was only at most a 2% difference in their findings, so if you are a high end athlete, this could make all the difference with winning gold or silver, but will only help you a little if you are just average Joe or Jane. But hey, anything to shave off a minute or two when I am running.

I think I will give these socks a try!

Does anyone use compression socks and what are your thoughts on how they work?

1. Rugg S, Sternlicht E. The effects of graduated compression tights, compared with running shorts, on counter movement jump performance before and after submaximal running. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2014: 28;1067-1073.

2. Kemmier W, Stengel SV, Kockritz C, Mayhew H, Wassermann A, Jurgen Z. Effect of compression stockings on running perforance in men runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2009: 23(1); 101-105.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blog Hiatus

I'd like to say that my life has been so busy that I haven't been able to blog. Well that is partially true, but the other part (I am now realizing), Writing my blog was a "constructive" way to procrastinate my studying, and since I haven't been studying, hence, I have not blogged.

Here is what I have been doing for the past 4 months...

 Angel's Game right before I moved out of my apartment with Chris.
 Visit to San Fran on the way up the coast
 Bye San Fran…Hello Oregon

Above are some pictures from our road trip…complete with a stop at Tillamook (and yes we ate cheese and ice cream and it was delicious)

I lived in Astoria Oregon for 2 months. The town is beautiful and I enjoyed everyone I met.
I visited Portland (and friends) a couple of times. I was lucky enough to meet Baby J (Ryder) one week after he was born. He is a rebel. Already flipping off the camera.

I graduated (not officially until the end of next Friday), but I walked and I sang the National Anthem at my graduation.

Shipwreck on the coast of OR
More fun times in Astoria. I took many hikes and my parents (not pictured) and Chris came to visit me while I was there.

 Victoria Buenotodo's bachelorette Party in Bellingham (only photos I can show ;)

And finally, We went to see Chris Issak at Chateau Ste Michelle. Yes I got that close to him (and I shook his hand) and yes I look creepy in this picture.

So that has been my last 4 months. I am officially done (and a doctor) in less than 2 weeks. I am finishing my internship at an outpatient facility in Normandy Park (near the airport) and then…I get to study for my boards (which I take at the end of Oct) and THEN…I will be a real PT.

I will probably be posting way more when I am studying for my boards, see 1st paragraph for why and since I am home now and there is no need to keep up with my "exciting" life in California, I am going to try and post about exercises and health related things that people can do to keep themselves pain free.

Let me know if you have any questions and I will try and answer them.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Well I'm Moving to Astoria

Astoria Oregon that is…and only for two months. Let me explain. I am fulfilling a rotation requirement for school at a local Nursing Facility. Then, I move back to the Seattle area and finish up my last 2 months of clinicals in the Seattle area!

It will be an interesting and exciting experience. I will be able to say that I lived in Oregon (even if it is for a short amount of time); I will really get to concentrate on physical therapy because I won't know anyone there (lots of time to study and review); I am very close to Portland and will be able to visit my friends that live in the area on a more regular basis (you know who you are, all of you be prepared for me to stay with you at some point during the months of April through June); My temporary residence will most likely be in walking distance to work (because downtown is very small); And finally, I will have a new and exciting place to run. That last one seems a little weird, but I love running in new cities. I feel like it is the best way to intimately get to know a place and I get really excited when I find new routes!
Look how beautiful Astoria looks! If anyone knows of good places to check out while I'm there, please let me know.

On the other end of things, I have 4 weeks left of classes. Wow, the past 3 years have flown by! This last month will not be easy. Just for sympathy sake, I have 3 presentations, 2 online tests, 4 paper tests (one of those tests I have to get 100% on to pass the class), 1 research project and I have to plan my move all at the same time that need to be completed all within the same 28 days.
Some of the "stuff" I am doing is interesting...The research project is looking at how yoga affects posture. No I did not get funky implants. Those are markers that a computer will digitize and measure angles to determine "what" my posture is. I am not actually a participant, they were just practicing placing the markers on me, but for our participants, we will look at their posture after 6 weeks to determine if the poses we prescribed made significant changes to their posture.

As for the rest of what I am working on, not quite as interesting.

In my social life, I did have Chris and my mom come visit me in the past month.
Laguna Beach

Chris and I on the ferry from Balboa Island to Balboa
It was nice to have them both in town. The next time Chris comes into town, he will be helping me pack up my apartment and ship me up North.

Wow time does fly.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Benefits of Yoga

As many of you know, I love yoga! I have been practicing some sort of yoga for over 10 years and yoga has been practiced for over 5000 years! Yoga is more than just stretching. In fact, it can be a rigorous workout. I have walked out of classes dripping in sweat and shaking.

There are a multitude of health benefits, such as flexibility and strength. But yoga is also a great exercise for mindfulness, balance, stress management and a mood booster.

Deep Breathing/mood/stress management: the practice of yoga is based on connecting movement with your breath. In fact, certain practices of yoga are just breathing exercises and you are still truly practicing yoga. Deep breathing is so good for us and has many benefits and uses. It can help you calm down, pump you up, improve focus, reduce anxiety or keep you awake (why do you think you yawn in class). Yoga emphasizes deep breathing from your belly with a breath called Ujjayi breath. It sounds like waves at the ocean. Deep breathing sends a message to your brain to relax. Try it some time if you are stressed out. When we are stressed we tend to take shallow and short breaths, this is similar to hyperventilating and in layman's term, there is a decrease in carbon dioxide in your blood and this will cause you to feel dizzy and thus anxious. So try breathing in for at least 4 counts feeling your belly rise and 4 counts out feeling your belly sink in, you will feel better instantly. Deep breathing also releases endorphins and these are the happy neurotransmitters - it is a natural high!

Agonist-Antagonist response: Okay, you are probably asking "what does this mean?" Basically it means flexing or contracting the opposing muscle simultaneously while your are stretching another. Yoga does this naturally with its postures. When you are doing warrior 1, you are contracting your butt muscles (hip extensors) while stretching your hip flexors (iliopsoas and rectus femoris - quad). When you want to stretch your hamstrings, if you long sit and flex your quads, you can typically get a deeper stretch into the back of your legs. The mechanism of action is through your brain. You have something called mechano-receptors in your muscles and tendons that when they are being stretched your brain tenses them up and prevents you from stretching further. Well if you contract the opposite muscle that you are stretching, this sends mixed messages to your brain (it kind of gets confused) and relaxes your muscles and allows you to stretch further.

Improvement of posture: Posture comes from proper length and strength of your muscles. American's spend all day sitting flexed over a computer or driving. Not only does yoga have many poses that are the exact opposite of being hunched over, they use the mechanism mentioned above to strengthen and lengthen your muscles. Studies have shown that programs that just stretch, just strengthen, or stretch then strengthen (or vies versa) don't produce permanent changes in posture. Preliminary research has shown that stretches and strengthens simultaneously does improve posture AND makes permanent changes!

Strength benefits: You have probably seen some yogis and their amazingly lean muscles and crazy tricks they can do! Well, yoga uses your body weight along with the help of gravity to increase your strength. You don't need any equipment, just clothing that can move and maybe a towel to wipe off sweat. But give the poses a try, I guarantee you will be sore the next day.

Improved balance: A major cause of death for older people is from falling. There are many reasons why people fall, but one of them is due to poor balance. Balance is a combination of many factors and yoga works addresses many of these factors. One thing you can do to improve your balance is practice. Stand on one foot and close your eyes for 30 second. Can you do it? You should be able to. Yoga has many postures where it challenges your balance and strengthens your stabilizing muscles. In fact, I would say 90% (I made that percentage up - but it is most of the poses) of the poses performed in yoga challenge your core muscles and work on balance!

Mindfulness: Although many A type personalities tend to practice yoga, picture the stereotype of your typical yogi. That is what yoga is all about. It is a practice, not perfection. You are concentrating on your breath and your movement, not what you have to do when you get home. A wonderful and successful yoga practice could be balasana (child's pose) or shavasana (corpse pose) practice the entire class. It teaches you to be in the here and now (this is not an easy thing to do and I still have not come close to mastering this). Also, yoga teaches you to listen to your body. Some days I feel like I am an expert yogi, other days I can barely touch my toes. It is important to listen to your body since every day is different and every practice is different. If something is not feeling right, don't go in to that pose, even if the person next to you can do it. And that is okay, because maybe tomorrow you'll do it, or maybe you'll never do that specific pose, but yoga teaches us that what ever your practice is, that is the best practice to have.

Even though yoga is an amazing exercise for many people, it is not for everyone. One of the reasons could be because it does not interest you. Also, it is important to practice the poses correctly because incorrect poses could cause injury. That is why it is so important to listen to your body. Right now my shoulders are so tight that I can not perform binding poses. When I try my shoulder hurt. I am okay with this and I know in the near future (when I am not studying all the time and have more time to practice yoga) I will be able to bind once again.

And always consult with your doctor when trying new exercises. Especially if you are pregnant or have  a heart condition.

I hope I have persuaded you to at least give yoga a try.

Are there any exercises that you were hesitant to try but once you did it you loved it?

Friday, February 21, 2014


Well, this is the 3rd time I have experience this disorder (senioritis). The first time was in high school, the next episode was in college, and finally, I have contracted it again.

It has been difficult to sit down and study for any extended period of time.  My time in Southern California is winding down, I want to experience as much of it as I possible can. Studying totally gets in the way of this. And to top it all off, I have experienced the real world of PT and being back in school feels like a regression. I want to be in the field, working (making money), and having guilt free - free time on the weekends again.

I had a midterm on Wednesday (my 1st test of the semester) and it was brutal. Hours were spent reading hundreds of pages and countless nights (okay 6) were spent in the library. Provisions were needed to get through the many hours of torture.
This is what I succumb to…We are taught that sitting for long periods of time and eating refined sugar and process foods are bad for us…Well, why do the professors make us sitting for long periods of time and eat crappy food? Okay, I admit the food part is my choice, but the glucose is necessary for the long study sessions.

Here is what else I have been doing in class:
Yes, that is a fettuccine pasta and marshmallow castle that is absolutely fabulous (dragon included)! You might ask, why are we doing such arts and crafts in class when we are receiving our Doctorate in Physical Therapy? Well currently we are enrolled in a leadership and Administrative class. We had a guest lecturer that discussed organizational structure and the importance of finding the right structure to run a business. We were put into groups, someone was the CEO and he/she directed which job we would perform in the building of this castle. Each group was structured slightly differently to illustrate the drawbacks and benefits of each type of business structure. Needless to say, I still have no clue how any of the business structures truly work in practice and how I could apply them if I ever open a business. But hey, each to their own.

The next few weeks are going to be equally as brutal. But…drum roll please…only 6 more weeks left of the didactic portion of my program! And, even better news, the last 8 weeks of my clinical rotation will be in Seattle! The 1st 8 weeks have not been assigned yet and they could be anywhere, but at least I know I will be moving home at the end of JUNE!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sorry, It's Been a While

Not too much to report. I have been trying to get back into the swing of school after being in the clinic and then having 2 months off. Okay, I am already rounding into week 6 of this semester (out of 15), but sitting in class all day has not been easy after I have had the taste of what the real world is like. 

This semester has been way less stressful than normal. I don't know if it's because it is easier or I just don't have the will to stress any more. With that, I am excited to be out in the clinic in a few short months.

Here are some highlights between group projects, sleep, and exercise:
New roomie

A little bit of delicious beer

Hawks vs. Niner's game

Learning how to shoot a gun (and getting burnt from the casings)
Go Hawks!

Super Bowl Win!
Seattle for a week!
Friends and birthday parties!
I hope the start of your new year has been great!