Core Stability Myths Exposed

by Dr. Marc Nimchuk, Feb 24 2013

Years before becoming a chiropractor I worked as a kinesiologist (or Exercise Therapist as we were called at the time) at a large rehabilitation centre in Alberta. During that time I was charged with developing a specific core stability program for our clients that could be completed daily. Fortunately, I was provided with the opportunity to attend a seminar with Dr. Stuart McGill who at the time was delivering a radically different message of what it takes to prevent low back injuries and improve performance. His message was contradicting what was being practiced in virtually every fitness centre, pilates studio and rehab clinic around the country.

Dr. McGill is a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo and is without a doubt one of the top authorities on the entire planet with regards to low back injuries and rehabilitation. Over the years, while attending further schooling to become a chiropractor, I have taken the opportunity to attend more seminars from Dr, McGill and it is remarkable how consistent his message remains. What is even more remarkable is that despite authoring 2 groundbreaking books; Low Back Disorders (an academic text) and Ultimate Back Performance (a book that every exercise or rehab professional should have with them at all times), being interviewed countless times and now recently posting a new YouTube video, somehow this message has not been adopted more by personal trainers and fitness instructors.

Every time I see a new patient for low back pain (which is often, being a chiropractor and all), I always ask them what they are doing for core stability exercises. When they inevitably show me exercises such as Supermans or sit-ups, flattening their backs and sucking in their abs to try and activate their TRANVERSE ABDOMINIS (which is a near impossibility and a total myth), I know there is a lot of work to do. I first regretfully inform them that despite their best efforts, what they are doing is probably making their problem worse and putting themselves in a more unstable position. I then begin the task of retraining them to be able to stabilize their entire torso while activating some of the larger surrounding muscles such as the glutes, rectus abdominis and obliques.

There are so many different approaches used to try and develop “core stability” however not many are based on actual science. By adopting the recommendations of Stu McGill, patients and athletes alike know that they are doing exercises that produce a lot of muscle activation, while at same time NOT producing a high spinal load. These exercises; sometimes known as the “big 3” can be scaled down to very basic levels to ensure that even injured or very weak patients can safely and effectively begin to develop their strength. So, next time you are in a fitness class and your instructor asks you to “suck your belly button to your spine”, I hope alarm bells start to go off in your head. Just because an exercise has been done a certain way for a long period of time, doesn’t make it right.

I encourage you to check out this video (link below) where Dr. McGill easily dispels core stability myths in about 4 minutes. It is well worth a watch and might save you from a back injury.

Dr. Marc Nimchuk
Kelowna Chiropractic

The Perfect Breakfast


by Brittany Risher

Maybe your parents’ families sat down together every morning for eggs, sausage, and homemade pancakes, but in today’s world, does anyone even eat breakfast at their kitchen table? Chances are you hit the snooze button multiple times before stumbling out of bed to rush through your morning routine. And that leaves little time to cook up much of anything.

If you have the luxury, by all means sit down for a nice, hearty breakfast. About three eggs, a piece of fruit, and a small bowl of oatmeal is a good mix of protein and carbohydrates, says Alan Aragon, M.S., a nutritionist in Westlake Village, California.

No time for that hassle? That’s no reason to skip breakfast—here are three reasons you need a morning meal. There are lots of fast and easy meals—most of which you can take with you—that deliver the nutrients you need in the morning. The only thing you need to consider is whether or not you’re an a.m. exerciser.

If You Work Out in the Morning

If you want to build muscle, you should eat protein and carbohydrates about 30 to 60 minutes before you work out. If you don’t feel hungry, you still need to eat this mix—even if you gulp down some fruit juice spiked with a scoop of whey-protein powder.

“One of the reasons you want protein and carbohydrate prior to training is because you’re trying to create an environment where your muscles are fed the nutrients they need during your workout,” Aragon says.

Exercise increases your blood flow, so if you eat properly beforehand (and therefore have those nutrients in your blood), you’ll have elevated nutrients levels at the same time your blood flow is elevated, maximizing the delivery of protein, carbs, and vitamins to your working muscles, Aragon says. And this prevents muscle breakdown and promotes muscle growth.

Don’t forget to eat right after your leave the locker room. Your muscles are most receptive to nutrients within a half hour of training, Aragon says. He recommends eating one-quarter of your goal body weight in protein and carbohydrate grams. So if you want to be 175 pounds, have about 40 to 45 grams of protein and carbohydrates. If you’re on the scrawny side and want to bulk up more, increase the carbs to half of your target weight goal.

Go ahead and have whatever tastes good to you—but avoid an overload of sugar. “Have rice or oatmeal or any grain rather than a bunch of sugar if you want a big hit of carbohydrates,” Aragon says. “There’s no good time to consume a crap-load of sugar.”

Good Pre-Workout Choices

– Fruit juice with a scoop of whey-protein powder mixed in
– A protein shake (add flaxseed or fiber to feel fuller longer)
– 1-2 cups of cooked oatmeal with a scoop of whey-protein powder mixed in or a glass of milk
– A container of sweetened yogurt
6 oz. of yogurt, 1-2 oz. of cheese, or a glass of milk with a piece of fruit
– A spoonful of natural peanut butter and a piece of fruit
– Eggs with salsa or a piece of fruit

If You Don’t Work Out in the Morning

There’s no set time you have to eat breakfast. If you’re not hungry before you leave the house, bring something with you (preferably not a Pop-Tart) and eat it at work. Just follow these two rules:

1. Include a fruit or vegetable in your breakfast. Most guys don’t eat enough produce, so this is an easy way to boost your intake. The small amount of carbohydrates will restore liver glycogen levels, providing your muscles—and your brain—the fuel they need to function at their peak.

2. Eat quality protein. It’s great for your muscles and it’s slow-digesting, so you’ll make it through the morning without feeling hungry.

Your meal doesn’t have to consist of traditional breakfast foods. “Anything that’s good at lunch or dinner makes a perfectly good breakfast—even leftovers,” says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., a nutritionist in Los Angeles.

Good Choices for Fast Breakfasts:

– Eggs with salsa or a piece of fruit
– 6 oz. of yogurt, 1-2 oz. of cheese, or a glass of milk with a piece of fruit
– A spoonful of natural peanut butter and a piece of fruit
– A protein shake (add flaxseed or fiber to feel fuller longer)
– Fruit juice with a scoop of whey-protein powder mixed in

Science Fair Doubtful Now

Well , it is doubtful that Hannah will be able to participate in the science fair tomorrow. She got very ill in my wife’s van after school. She is just not doing well.

I plan to take her project board to school tomorrow, but won’t count because she must be present to speak with the judges. They won’t even critique the project now. I’m very sad for Hannah. She learned a lot in this project. That is the most important part.

Unless her health makes a big turn around or we get a lot of snow over night (doubtful), this project will end in a way we had not planned.

Profile of a Vegetarian


This is long , but it is filled with great info from a good friend…

by Diana Boyer

As I pondered the question of why we’ve chosen a vegetarian diet, four basic answers came to mind – personal health advantages, more responsible use of natural resources, not wanting to contribute to the inhumane treatment of animals bred for marketing, and absolutely no disadvantages of being a vegan.

Of course, for me the most important reason is the one related to personal health. Let me try to simplify some of the facts that have come to my attention as I’ve studied this field over the last 15-20 years.

• Our bodies are better designed to consume plant-based food than animal products.
o Teeth – Our teeth are shaped like those of plant-eating animals, cutting teeth in front and grinding teeth in back. True carnivores have very sharp, tearing teeth to facilitate not only the chewing of raw meat, but also the hunting and killing of prey.
o Digestive Juices – From the saliva in our mouths to the digestive juices all through our digestive system, we are designed to breakdown plant foods. Animal products do not fare well in our systems. Meat is comprised mostly of protein and fat. Their protein molecules are very complex combinations of amino acids that are difficult, if not impossible, for our bodies to breakdown into simpler, digestible components. The saturated fat has a tendency to stick to our organs (especially to the walls of blood vessels) rather than be digested. The calcium in cow’s milk is also bound up (from the homogenization process) and cannot be absorbed. As a matter of fact, no other animal even tries to consume milk beyond the first few months or years of life, nor would any species drink the milk of another species. But then, most humans are repulsed by the idea of drinking milk from any animal other than cows. Ever try elephant milk? Horse milk? Goat milk? So why cow’s milk? God only intended milk for infants – not adults. It’s no wonder so many adults are lactose intolerant! It’s not the way we were designed!!

Length of Digestive Tract – Carnivores have a very short digestive tract, because meat quickly rots in the intestinal tract and must be processed quickly to be of any benefit to the eater. Humans (like other plant-eating animals) have a very long digestive tract. Therefore, the meat begins to rot before it can be broken down, absorbed, and/or eliminated. This is the main cause of colon cancer (along with lack of fiber in the diet – animal products have NO fiber.)

• Plants give humans many age-proofing advantages. Nutrients in plants …
o … protect cells from free radicals that cause breakdown at the cellular level. When free radicals take over, cancer develops (put very simply – it’s actually much more complicated).
o … build the immune system, knocking out viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells when invasion is attempted.
o … help keep hormones in a healthy balance.
o … protect veins and arteries. They also prevent (and reverse) blockage in the blood stream.
o … strengthen bones by building bone density.
o … help lose unwanted fat and maintain healthy weight (because carbohydrates only have 4 calories per gram and fats have 9 calories per gram, among other reasons).
… improve health of skin and hair.

• Meat isn’t a good source of nutrients.
o Buildup of cholesterol, fat, and cellular debris from consumption of animal products clogs veins and arteries leading to heart disease. (Half of all Americans will die of heart disease). Plant-based foods have no cholesterol or saturated fat.
o High levels of blood cholesterol is consistently associated with many cancers.
o A high fiber diet helps eliminate toxins and carcinogens. Plants provide a large variety of fiber, meats provide none.
o Animal products contain numerous compounds that can trigger tumors or hasten their development. Carcinogenesis can be “turned on” by animal protein and “turned off” by plant protein.
o Once the body has all the protein it needs (only 8-10% of the entire diet should be protein), the excess protein begins to feed precancerous lesions and tumors. Americans consume more than twice the amount of protein they need. A high-protein intake is detrimental to bone strength and overworks the kidneys.
o The key to bone strength is not to maximize calcium intake, but to minimize calcium loss. A plant-based menu is far superior to meat diets in this respect.

o The form of iron found in meats is more easily absorbed than that in plants. This has turned out to be a liability because meats apparently contribute to iron overload, which is common in American adults. A vegan diet allows the body to regulate its iron absorption more effectively and provides plenty of iron to meet the need, but not to excess.

• No negative side-effects to a vegan diet.
o Does not cause or promote cancer, but instead protects against it.
o Does not cause or promote heart disease, but instead reverses the damage already done.
o The only criticism I’ve ever heard (or read) is that it goes against the American “norm” and, therefore, is too difficult for the average person to adhere to. When pressed on this issue, doctors have admitted that the strict vegan diet is the most healthful. But they won’t prescribe it for their patients because they feel it’s unrealistic to expect any American to eat that way for a prolonged period of time.
o I’ve found that taste buds can be retrained. After the first few weeks, it’s easier to stay away from “forbidden” foods. After a few months or years, the “forbidden” foods are not even desirable. You lose your taste for them and replace them with other more healthful alternatives.

On to the final mystery of being a vegetarian – what in the world does a vegetarian eat? Fruits and nuts? One answer to that question relates more to what you don’t eat – no animal products. For me personally, I’ve also modified it to exclude all excess fats (e.g., oils, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, avocado – all from vegetable sources, but high in fat) and processed foods. With that criteria in mind, this is what’s left on my basic menu:
• Vegetables – any and all varieties of vegetables, with as little processing as possible. Raw or lightly steamed is best, but baked, canned, frozen or dried are also acceptable. Vegetables alone are the basis for all kinds of salads and soups, as well as side dishes for grain or bean entrees or raw for snacks.
• Fruits – any and all varieties, with as little processing as possible. Raw is best, but dried, frozen, canned, and baked are also good (even 100% fruit jams). Fruits are great alone for snacks or light meals, on toast or waffles or cereal, as desserts (like apple crisp), etc.
• Legumes – this includes all beans, peas and lentils thoroughly cooked (or canned), or even in the form (as soybeans) of milk, tofu, veggie burgers, veggie cheese, etc. Legumes are the backbone of many ethnic main dishes (especially oriental or Mexican).
• Grains – again this category sports a wide variety (it’s not just oats or wheat) of grains and grain products, processed as little as possible. Look for low fat, high fiber, whole grain, with no additives. Along with legumes, grains make up many entrees in a vegetarian diet.
• Other – in moderation, sweeteners (honey, molasses, sugar, brown sugar, or chocolate syrup) and condiments (salad dressing, mustard, ketchup, barbeque sauce, and salsa). Just look for fat-free varieties and use sparingly.

Our favorite menu items:

Breakfast (at home or take-with)
o Cold cereal (favorite cereals include Kashi Cinna-Raisin, Heart to Heart, and Go Lean Crunch; Nabisco Shredded Wheat & Bran; Barbara’s Shredded Wheat and Shredded Oats; Post Grape Nuts) optionally topped with WestSoy fat-free soy milk, plain or vanilla, and dried or fresh fruit
o Hot cereal (cream of wheat or rice, oatmeal, sweet rice*, bulghar wheat, couscous*, or any cooked whole grain) topped with a little maple syrup or honey and/or fresh or dried fruit
o Whole grain toast with all-fruit jam
o Fresh fruit salad (any combo you like)

Lunch (at home or take-with)
o Leftovers from dinner
o Garden Salad (including: any variety of lettuce except iceberg lettuce, sprouts, shredded cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, green pepper, red pepper, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, beets) topped with: kidney or garbanzo beans and fat-free dressing; chili beans and salsa; or bean salad*.
o Homemade Soup* (vegetable, minestrone, chili, broccoli-rice, potato) and a slice of whole grain bread (top bread with peanut butter if you’re not trying to lose weight)
o Prepackaged Soups (Fantastic Food offers 4-6 varieties of double-portion noodle soups as well as 8-10 varieties of single-portion soups, Nile Spice also has a line of single-portion soups)

Dinner (at home)
o Italian Mini Pizzas – whole grain, fat-free tortillas topped with marinara sauce*, sliced veggies (green peppers, onion, zucchini, mushrooms, etc.) and veggie low-fat mozzarella-look-alike cheese shreds). Throw together and bake on a cookie sheet at 375° for about 10-15 minutes.
o Mexican “Jimmy-chungas” – same as above except use smashed chili beans instead of marinara and substitute veggie cheddar for the mozzarella (veggie cheese). Top with shredded lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes and salsa.
o Pasta with marinara sauce and steamed veggies – we like a blend of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini and red pepper OR carrots & brussel sprouts.
o Sweet Rice* or Couscous* and Steamed Veggies – Again, any kind of veggies, and regular rice (without the fruit) works great too.
o Baked Potatoes with Steamed Veggies (self explanatory) topped with BBQ sauce or salsa or veggie cheese if desired
o Baked or Steamed Sweet Potatoes — side dish, or very filling alone. Top with maple syrup, cinnamon, and all-spice for a taste like pumpkin pie (great dessert)
o Veggie Burgers (we like the low-fat Texas Burger made by Amy’s Kitchen, purchased at the 3 Rivers Food Co-op) with whole grain bread or tortilla, topped with lettuce, pickles, onion, tomato, and mustard.

Dinner (at a restaurant)
o Salad Bar (stick to the fresh veggies and beans, stay away from high-fat dressings, cheeses, eggs, and heavy-mayo prepared salads). Many offer fat-free salad dressing options or vinegar. I sometimes use prepared salads (like a carrot-pineapple-raisin salad with a light mayo dressing or a bean salad in vinegar dressing) to top my salad instead of dressing. Just watch out for heavy mayo dressings, seafoods, cheeses, etc.
o Baked Potatoes and a side of steamed veggies
o Pastas with meatless marinara sauce and veggies
o Vegetarian Soups
o Veggie Pizzas with no cheese or veggie cheese

o The 3 Rivers Food Co-op has a few varieties of prepackaged fat-free, whole-grain cookies (Barbara’s Fig Bars or Raspberry Fig Bars) as well as some low-fat versions
o Homemade fat-free cookies, cakes, or muffins
o Apple Crisp (more apple than “crisp”)
o Tofu Pudding
o Frozen Banana Soymilk Shakes (add other fruit to vary flavor)
o If you’re desperate, even your favorite cold cereal topped with chocolate syrup and soymilk can hit the spot. (at least its very low fat)

Let’s see. I wanted to give you directions on a few of the * items above:

• Sweet Rice (ratio = 1 cup rice to 2 cups water) – Bring water to boil (add a little salt if desired), stir in rice and cut-up dried fruits (raisins, apricots, pineapple), return to boil, reduce heat, simmer for about 45-60 minutes (until water absorbed). Leave the dried fruit out if you want plain brown rice.
• Couscous (ratio=1 cup couscous to 2 cups water) – Bring water to boil, stir in couscous (and seasonings if desired), remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
• Quinoa (another grain) (ratio = 1 cup quinoa to 1 cup water) – Bring water to boil, stir in quinoa (and seasoning if desired), reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for 8-10 minutes (until grain absorbs water).
• Bean Salad or any marinated veggies – Pour a mixture of one part vinegar, one part honey over any combination of beans and/or veggies. Salt and/or pepper if desired. Let stand in the refrigerator overnight.
• Marinara Sauce – Steam chopped onion and green pepper in skillet with small amount of water. Stir in tomato sauce, Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic, etc.) and a touch of honey. For a quicker, easier version leave out the onion and green pepper – just seasoned tomato sauce.
• Lightly cook veggies by steaming in a small amount of water (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan). No need for oil or butter. Flavor with Balsamic vinegar if desired.
• Most whole grains can be cooked with a ratio of 1 part grain to 2 cups water. Although I think Cream of Wheat (or rice) would be 1 part grain to 3 or 4 parts water.
• Dried beans should be soaked in water for several hours before cooking. Drain off water they’ve soaked in. Add fresh water to cook (I’d guess 1 part beans to 4 parts water). I usually just buy canned beans that are already cooked.

The main thing I want to convey is that a vegan diet is not really too difficult to adhere to, and it can be very enjoyable. You don’t even need to spend hours in the kitchen. In fact, I do very little cooking, and what cooking I do is so simple even my husband can pull it off without any trouble.

We are convinced that most health problems can be resolved with a plant-based, whole foods diet and moderate exercise. We’d love to have you over for a taste of what we eat any time. We’d even let you choose the menu. Questions are always welcome. And several books can be recommended for anyone interested in investigating for themselves.

Recommended Reading (all available at the Fort Wayne Public Library)

Being Vegetarian for Dummies by Suzanne Havala

Vegan: the New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus

Eat Right, Live Longer by Neal Barnard

Eat More, Weigh Less by Dean Ornish

The Perfectly Contented Meat-Eater’s Guide to Vegetarianism by Mark W. Reinhardt

Mad Cowboy, by Howard Lyman