Causes and Prevention of LBP From Poor Posture Part III:

Causes and Prevention of LBP From Poor Posture Part III:

Part III: Causes and prevention of LBP from poor posture

Screenshot 2017-08-22 11.48.53The purpose of this article is to discuss the causes and prevention of lower back pain that comes from poor sitting and standing posture. There are many ways LBP can develop from slouching and this article will focus on one source and attempt to provide an understanding of common motifs on how the body works. In Part II of this series, I talked a lot about the role of hip mobility restrictions in LBP and in this article I will focus on the role of the thoracic spine. Figure source

It would be helpful to read the previous parts of this series (especially Part I):

Part I: Introduction to the Anatomy and Physiology of Lower Back Pain

Part II: Causes and Prevention of Lower Back Pain in Athletes

The thoracic spine

The thoracic spine are the middle 12 vertebrae that mostly run along the rib cage. When Screenshot 2017-08-22 11.49.02we slouch, the thoracic spine bends forward, putting more stress on the lower back and pushing the neck and head forward. This can lead to LBP and headaches (Alexander). Figure source

Only so many bends before it breaks

The spine is a collection of versatile joints that can generate mobility and stiffness while withstanding high compression forces. Unfortunately, the stress placed on the spine means that it is vulnerable to fatigue, and later, pain. A large portion of the prevention of LBP is respecting the fatigue lifespan of the spine by reducing the number of flexions that put the spine in a vulnerable position (McGill). Patients who repeat the flexion events that aggravate their pain, such as sitting, set themselves up for worsening pain. Degeneration of the spine is completely normal, but good posture can be the difference between getting LBP now or later.

Joint by joint perspective revisited

The thoracic spine is especially relevant to the lower back because it is the joint directly above the lumbar spine. In Part II, we discussed the joint by joint perspective of training where the lower back primarily needs to provide stability while the hips and thoracic spine should provide mobility (Rusin). The hunched over position during sitting tightens the thoracic spine, which compromises our ability to maintain a good posture (Alexander).

Improving thoracic spine mobility

The press up is a valuable corrective movement that moves the user in back extension. The press up keeps the user away from flexion and counteracts the poor posture most of us assume when sitting. The bend in the spine should be distributed throughout the spine (the lower back does not articulate that much in this plane). The glutes should be relaxed. If practical, doing work while in the press up position (supported by elbows) can be helpful!


Furthermore, stretching the thoracic spine through multiple planes of motion is also beneficial. A lying spinal rotation stretch can help the thoracic spine improve its mobility. For the spinal rotation it is important to remember the emphasis is on the thoracic spine. The lumbar spine only has a rotational range of motion of 13 degrees and most people have decent lumbar mobility. The shoulder should be placed on the ground before the hips are rotated and the emphasis is on the twisting in the chest.


Misconception Correction: Some stretches are bad for LBP

A pillar of the prevention of future LBP is removing the movement that causes pain. For most people this movement is flexion. Oddly, some LBP patients stretch their spine by curling up and pulling their knees into their chest. This reduces their pain because it activates stretch receptors in the lower back muscles, but sets the patient up for worse future pain. The stretch is a flexion event that will trigger the pain mechanism they suffer from. Beware of stretches that are quick fixes to pain.

Tune in next time for a discussion on the self-care of LBP! It will be a more practical article with a healthy array of foam rolling and corrective exercises.

Part II: Fundamentals of Lower Back Pain in Athletes

Part II: Fundamentals of Lower Back Pain in Athletes

This article is on the causes and prevention of lower back pain (LBP) in athletes. LBP can result from several different kinds of causes that cannot all be addressed in a single article. My goal for this article is to provide a foundational understanding of the motifs that can contribute to LBP.

See Part I here

Prevention is the most important component of keeping your back pain-free. The best predictor of a new injury is a previous injury. One of the founders of chiropractics, B.J. Palmer, said: “The preservation of health is easier than the cure of the disease” (Palmer). For this reason, time invested in prevention will yield more benefit than time spent on rehabilitating an injury that could have been avoided.

Back pain may not be rooted in back issues. When looking at the primary needs of our joints beginning at the ankles and ascending to the shoulders they alternate between needing mobility and stability work (see table).

Joint Primary Training Needs
Ankle mobility
Knee stability
Hip mobility
Lumbar Spine stability
T-Spine mobility
Shoulder stability
(Boyle, 2007)

The alternating pattern comes from observations that joints like the ankle have a tendency to become stiff and need additional mobility work, while joints like the shoulder have a tendency to move sloppily and need stability work (Cook). Most people have good mobility in their lower back but are poor at maintaining its stability.

The significance of the alternating pattern is that a deficit in the primary needs of the joints immediately above and below lumbar back forces the spine to compromise its ability to stabilize (Boyle, 2007). A lack of hip mobility is a common cause of LBP because it forces the lumbar spine to compensate by providing mobility. The lower back cannot provide maximal mobility and stability in the same moment.

When these errant patterns are repeated and become habits, it becomes more difficult to engage the hips without also losing a neutral spine position. A joint by joint view of training suggests that the early signs of LBP may reflect inactive hips and preventative work may be best focused on joints above and below the lower back.

The Cook Lift is a good test of whether an athlete activates their lower back when they engage their hips. Here is a video of the Cook Lift demonstrated by Prevail Chief Operations Officer Peter Blumert!

A good progression for the Cook Lift is a set of 8, then 10, then 12 reps.

The cause of back pain results from cumulative trauma rather than a singular event.

LBP originates from thousands of flexions of the lumbar spine which causes disc herniation at a microscopic level through nucleation and delamination (Tampier et al., 2007; McGill, 2010). These preceding events occur without giving athletes an indication a future injury is looming. An important idea is that the lumbar spine only has so many bends before it breaks (McGill, 2014). Use them wisely for essential everyday activities instead of sit-ups that place a large load on intervertebral disks (Reynolds, 2009). Simply substituting the curl-up for the sit-up takes a lot of the stress out of the back.

Movement quality and endurance are the keys to preventing LBP.

Between strength, endurance, mobility, and movement patterns, the quality of the movement patterns appears to be the most significant difference between patients with lower back injuries and asymptomatic controls (McGill, 2014). Patients with LBP lift more with their back causing unnecessary lumbar flexions. A common flawed movement pattern involves “gluteal amnesia” where athletes present with tight hips, hamstrings, and hip flexors and do not activate their glute complex to the necessary degree (McGill, 2007). These patients often do not improve with typical therapy methods because general back pain programs do not focus on developing the hips. Furthermore, the endurance of the lower back is more critical than its strength because the technique is more likely to breakdown after several, light movements compared to a few heavier ones (McGill, 2007).

Misconception correction:

Balance is not stability. YouTube and gyms everywhere have a population of lifters that rely on the Bosu ball (half ball) and fitness ball for their workouts. Their core argument (get it?) is that the instability of the ball provides more stability training than traditional lifts. Squatting, pressing, and rowing on the Bosu ball improves balance but does not improve spine stability (McGill, 2014). Instead, spinal stability is improved by practicing stiffening the core to allow the force to be transferred through it more effectively. Practice abdominal bracing during your big lifts to improve your core stability.

Our next article will discuss lower back pain developed from sitting and standing.

Further Reading:

A Joint-by-Joint Approach to Training

Designing Back Exercise: from Rehabilitation to Enhancing Performance

Lower Back Disorders, 2nd Edition

Lower Back Pain Part I: Overview of the lower back anatomy and mechanics

Lower Back Pain Part I: Overview of the lower back anatomy and mechanics

One of my greatest fears in weightlifting is the development of chronic lower back pain. To me, developing chronic lower back pain would turn weightlifting into nearly a zero sum game. The vast majority of lifters need to stay healthy more than they need to increase in strength. Yet, athletes of all levels of competency develop lower back pain (LBP). The purpose of this four part series of articles is to discuss the causes, prevention, and self-care of LBP.

Part I: Overview of the lower back anatomy and mechanics

Part II: Causes and prevention of LBP in athletes weight training

Part III: Causes and prevention of LBP in sedentary people

Part IV: Self-care of LBP


LBP ranks third in most burdensome causes of mortality and poor health (behind ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from smoking) — over 25% of people have experienced it in the last three months (NIH LBP Fact Sheet). Most LBP is acute and typically a result of a mechanical problem, resolving itself in a few days. About 20% of people who suffer from acute LBP eventually suffer from chronic LBP lasting over 12 weeks. Furthermore, almost one-third of patients with chronic pain are clinically depressed (Watson, 2011). Staying away from LBP is critical to staying disability free and aging healthily as described in my last article (Paras, 2017).

General Anatomy:

The lumbar spine represents the lowest five unfused vertebrae of the spinal cord. The 121prevaillumbar vertebrae are the largest of the spinal column as they are built to carry the most weight while providing both stability and mobility (Davis, 2013). In between each vertebra there is a cushiony, spongy intervertebral disc that absorbs shocks to the spine. Notably, the spinal cord does not run through the lumbar spine. Instead, large nerves run through the lumbar spine and branch out in the sacrum. This includes the sciatic nerve, which has a larger diameter than most garden hoses (Eidelson, 2017)!

(figure source)

Torque and reasons the lumbar spine is vulnerable:

The lower back is surprisingly mobile considering it is a long stack of discs. It allows for forward and backward bends, twists, and movements in multiple planes simultaneously. However, this mobility comes at the cost of the stability necessary to maintaining proper posture. Common types of injuries are strains (e.g. muscle tearing, ligament tearing) and herniation (i.e. damage to a intervertebral disc).

The torque placed on the lower back is extremely high due to its long lever arm. The amount of force a muscle must produce to counterbalance a rotational force is proportional to the distance of the weight from the joint and the distance of the muscle’s attachment to the joint.The lower back is mechanically disadvantaged because a weight held at shoulder distance is very far away, while the lever formed by the muscle and joint is 12341prvailonly a few centimeters long. Therefore, the muscles of the lower back have to exert many times more force than the weight of any object it needs to support. For example, if a 180 pound person bends over 40 degrees to lift a 30 pound weight, the erector spinae muscles would need to generate 738 inch-pounds of force and experience a compressive force of 2214 inch-pounds just to maintain an isometric hold (Cornell University Ergonomics, n.d.). The massive torque placed on the lower back when lifting even light weights is one reason it is injury prone.

(Figure source)


The lower back is a common injury site that can develop into a source of disability. It provides stability and mobility in multiple planes, but its multi-functionality makes it vulnerable to injury. Furthermore, the lower back is mechanically disadvantaged because weights are typically held far from the hip and thus, require many pounds of exertion for every pound carried.

Tune in next time for a discussion on the causes and prevention of lower back injuries in athletes!

12tylerTyler Paras – Prevail Intern

B.S. – Cellular Molecular Biology (Westmont)

Matriculating M.D. Candidate – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Tyler was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and began training at Prevail in October 2016. He attended Westmont College and will be attending medical school this fall. While at Westmont he graduated summa cum laude, led a student-run homeless outreach program, and volunteered with medical clinics in Mexico and Bolivia.

After Tyler’s mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), he became interested in the cellular mechanisms behind the disease. He conducted his Major Honors project at Westmont on the role of the microbiome in inflammatory arthritis and conducted summers of research at Harvard Medical School studying the role of macrophages in RA. His research has resulted in seven presentations, three at national medical conferences.

Importance of Proper Posture in Training


Some experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience back pain in their lifetime (Rubin, 2007). This estimation is bolstered by the fact that the American population spends at least 50 billion dollars each year on issues related to back pain (MEDTEP, 1994). Individuals should work towards prevention rather than treatment of back maladies. One of the best preventative measures is proper posture in the midst of exercise and activities of daily living to improve spinal health.

Most lumbar disc injuries occur when the spine is in flexion or extension (Callaghan & McGill, 2001). This is one of the reasons that coaches are adamant about cuing clients to find a neutral spine position before proceeding with activity (e.g. shoulders back, tucked hips, tightening glutes). In exercise, one never wants to compromise spine position for the ‘ability’ to load more weight in an exercise (Boyle, 2016). One should practice stability prior to incorporating movement or increasing one’s weight-load while being mindful of avoiding excessive flexion or extension. The middle portion of the available range of motion has previously been described as the neutral range — this has been purported to be advantageous for preventing injury and enhancing athletic performance (Herring & Weinstein, 1995).

The next time you step foot into a gym, check your positioning. Don’t wait for a coach to correct your spinal position. Take responsibility for your postural and spinal health by learning the basic body weight movement with proper mechanics first and from that point forward, challenge yourself a little more. 

3 helpful tips for back pain prevention:

  1. Warm up and stretch properly, paying special attention to the hamstrings and hip flexors.
    1. The hamstrings need to be stretched in order to relieve pressure off of one’s back and prevent anterior tilt of the pelvis. The same goes for stretching the hip flexors as tight hip flexors can produce a posterior pelvic tilt.
  2. Maintain a healthy body weight through proper nutrition and an active lifestyle.
    1. A high fat and caloric diet in combination with an inactive lifestyle can lead to obesity, a condition that can put stress on the back. Proper nutrition to maintain a healthy body weight helps you avoid unnecessary stress and strain on your back. It is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D daily in order to keep your spine strong. These nutrients assist in the prevention of osteoporosis, the culprit to blame in many cases of bone fractures leading to back pain.
  3. Warm up and stretch properly, paying special attention to hamstrings and hip flexors
    1. Having the hamstrings at a normal length can help to prevent a posterior pelvic tilt and having the hip flexors at a normal length can help to prevent an anterior pelvic tilt. Stretching these muscle groups can help to relieve unnecessary pressure off of the spine.


Boyle, M. (2016). New Functional Training for Sports (2nd ed.). Champaign (IL):

Human Kinetics.

Callaghan, J.P., and S.M. McGill. Intervertebral disc herniation: Studies on a porcine model exposed to highly repetitive flexion/extension motion with compressive force. Clin. Biomech. (Bristol, Avon). 16(1) :28–37. 2001.

Herring, S.A., and S.M. Weinstein. Assessment and nonsurgical manage- ment of athletic low back injury. In: The Lower Extremity and Spine In Sports Medicine (2nd ed.). J.A. Nicholas and E.B. Hershman, eds. St. Louis: Mosby Year Book, Inc., 1995. p. 1189.

In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD.1994.

Lee, J., Y. Hoshino, K. Nakamura, and Y. Ooi. Trunk muscle imbalance as a risk factor of the incidence of low back pain. J. Neuromusculoskeletal Syst. 7:97–101. 1999.

Rubin Dl Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neural Clin. 2007; May; 25(2):353-71.

“Handout on Health: Back Pain.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal

and Skin Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web.

28 June 2017.

aysiaAysia Shellmire – Prevail Intern

B.S. – Kinesiology (Westmont College)

Aysia was born and raised in Burbank CA. She graduated from Westmont College on May 6th 2017 with a B.S. in Kinesiology. Aysia played 4 years of basketball at Westmont College under Coach Kirsten Moore. She was 3 time All-Conference and 3 time All- American athlete and she holds the Westmont’s All-Time scoring record as well as the career rebounds record.

Aysia became interested in Kinesiology when she had a strength coach in high school. She was able to see how her workouts contributed to her progress on the court. Westmont’s Kinesiology Department helped foster her passion for coaching and sports performance with the guidance of some amazing teachers including Prevail CEO Chris Ecklund and Trainer Alexis Anderson.

Aysia plans on getting her CSCS this fall and possibly continue to play semi-pro basketball overseas.

Unveiling the Science Behind Creatine – Part 2

The Issue: My biggest problem with creatine has been the barrage of supplements claiming to ‘boost exercise performance.’ It is hard for me to decide which products I should purchase and which I should avoid. Of course, when going to your local Vitamin Shop/GNC, the employees will urge you to buy the latest and greatest; they want you to spend money. Before incorporating a new addition into one’s nutritional plan, one must explore both the positives and negatives of the suggested supplement. Does creatine really help? What harm can it do? Do I need it?

Research Perspectives: Allegations against creatine have been made with complaints of muscle cramps and gastrointestinal ailments. A problem with these complaints is a lack of evidence and the fact that the issues experienced are common symptoms that occur in the general population, not just with those who consume creatine. Studies show no change in functionality of the liver & kidneys in healthy subjects supplemented with creatine compared to those without supplementation (Kim et al. 2011).

A superfluous amount of creatine (i.e. over the recommended amount) may cause those who have pre-existing renal disease or those at risk for renal dysfunction to be at a higher risk of experiencing related issues (Kim et al. 2011). Controlled creatine intake is imperative along with proper knowledge of potential high-risk factors to one’s health and well-being. Vandenberghe et al (1997) states that long-term creatine intake is beneficial to performance during resistance training. Young women (n=19) were tested for 10 weeks and performed resistance training for 3hrs a week. The women were divided into two groups, a placebo group and creatine group. After 10 weeks of training an intake of 20g/day increased phosphocreatine concentration by 6%. Furthermore, Muscle PCr (Phosphocreatine) and strength, intermittent exercise capacity, and fat-free mass subsequently remained at a higher level in the creatine group. This study was able to conclude that long-term creatine supplementation enhances the progress of muscle strength during resistance training in sedentary females. (Vandenberghe et al, 1997).

My Personal Experience: Just as doctors recommend we need more vitamin C or higher calcium intake, it can be suggested that if you want to become stronger, an increase in creatine consumption will help you reach your goals. As a collegiate baseball player, I want to be the best athlete I can become. As such, I lift 4-5 days a week. Each day I strive to exceed my performance from the prior one, paying attention to proper form and avoiding unnecessary training gaps. Although progress begins and grows in the gym, proper supplementation is also essential to improving athletic performance. I have been using creatine before & after each workout and I personally have noticed improvements in my performance. I have shown improvement in my bench press, back & front squat, and RDL since taking creatine versus before. I have seen significant improvement in my bench press, where I was stuck at 205lbs for a long while; I have now reached 220lbs two months after I began incorporating creatine.

Conclusion on Creatine: Despite my positive experience with creatine, I still hesitate to quickly agree with the famous claim of “boosting exercise performance.” It may contribute, but its contribution is towards the progress of muscle strength. Upon looking at research, I have concluded that I am not an individual at-risk from creatine intake; however, I am glad that I am educated and aware of which individuals should refrain from this supplement. As my plans included a CSCS certification, I find it more important than ever to be aware of not only what I put into my own body, but also what I recommend that others put into theirs. Incorporating supplements into one’s training can help improve performance, but only with proper product knowledge and adherence to a training program that offers both safety and growth opportunity. I will continue to include creatine in my training. Should I choose to venture out and consider new additions into my plan, I will be sure to know the science behind the product and its potential effects on my health and well-being.


Kim, Hyo Jeong, Chang Keun Kim, A. Carpentier, and Jacques R. Poortmans. “Studies on the Safety of Creatine Supplementation.” Amino Acids 40.5 (2011): 1409-418. Web.

Vandenberghe, K et al. “Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training”. Journal of Applied Physiology Vol. 83. 1997.

1justinprevialJustin McPhail – Prevail Intern

B.S. Candidate (Kinesiology) – Westmont College

Justin was born in Huntington Beach, California and moved to Long Valley, New Jersey when he was eight years old. Justin will graduate with a B.S in Kinesiology in May 2018. Justin currently plays baseball Westmont College under head Coach Robert Ruiz.

Justin became interested in Kinesiology because of his involvement in baseball. He loves the idea of working with athletes and helping them to become faster and stronger and reach their full potential.

Justin plans to get his CSCS and attend graduate school after Westmont.

Unveiling The Science Behind Creatine – Part 1


The supplement industry grows rapidly as new and advanced products repeatedly claim to boost your exercise performance. One product that is widely advertised by supplement shops is creatine monohydrate.

Creatine is a highly researched supplement, however, the science behind creatine is not widely advertised. Creatine itself is a naturally occurring amino acid that can be found in natural foods such as meat (especially beef) and fish (especially salmon and tuna) and is also made by the human body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas; It is then converted into phosphocreatine which is then converted into ATP, a major source of where our body gets energy other than glucose (Ehrlich, 2014).

The Question: If creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid in our body, why do we need to take it as a supplement?

The Process: The article International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise states that when we perform high-intensity exercises, our phosphocreatine stores become depleted due to our body converting it into ATP, which is then used by our muscles. When a creatine supplement is taken, the liver, pancreas, and kidney have more creatine to break down into phosphocreatine; this results in an increase in a number of phosphocreatine molecules to convert into energy (Buford et al. 2007).

The Effects: Studies show that creatine monohydrate is the most effective nutritional supplement in terms of providing lean body mass and anaerobic capacity (more ATP/more energy). In one study, Creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exercise, fourteen active men were divided into two groups: a creatine group and a placebo group. Both groups performed a heavy load to failure bench press; 5 sets to failure based on each subject’s predetermined 10 repetition maximum. Subjects also performed a jump squat exercise, which consisted of 5 sets of 10 repetitions using 30% of each subject’s 1-repetition maximum squat. The creatine group ingested 25g of creatine monohydrate per day & the placebo group ingested an equivalent amount of placebo (Buford et al. 2007).

The Results: The subjects were assessed by diet, body mass, skinfold thickness, pre-exercise and 5-minute post-exercise lactate concentrations, and peak power output for the bench press and jump squat. Creatine supplementation resulted in a significant improvement in peak power output during all 5 sets of jump squats and a significant improvement in repetitions during all bench presses and jump squats. Furthermore, a significant increase in body mass of 1.4kg was observed after creatine ingestion. In this study, one week of creatine supplementation (25g/day) enhanced muscular performance during repeated sets to a heavy load to failure bench press and jump squat exercise (Volek et al. 1997).

While this is just one study’s conclusion, the article International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation states that nearly 70% of these studies (creatine’s effect on performance) have reported a significant improvement in exercise capacity, while the others have generally reported non-significant gains in performance” (Buford et al. 2007).

Stay tuned for my next post where I will dive into further studies of creatine monohydrate.

Works Cited:

Buford, Thomas W et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 4 (2007): 6. PMC. Web. 19 June 2017.

“Creatine.” University of Maryland Medical Center. Ed. Steven D. Ehrlich. A.D.A.M, 26 June 2014. Web

1justinprevialJustin McPhail – Prevail Intern

B.S. Candidate (Kinesiology) – Westmont College

Justin was born in Huntington Beach, California and moved to Long Valley, New Jersey when he was eight years old. Justin will graduate with a B.S in Kinesiology in May 2018. Justin currently plays baseball Westmont College under head Coach Robert Ruiz.

Justin became interested in Kinesiology because of his involvement in baseball. He loves the idea of working with athletes and helping them to become faster and stronger and reach their full potential.

Justin plans to get his CSCS and attend graduate school after Westmont.

“Unveiling the Science Behind Creatine – Part 1” —> Volek, Jeff S., William J. Kraemer, Jill A. Bush, Mark Boetes, Thomas     Incledon, Kristine L. Clark, and James M. Lynch. “Creatine Supplementation Enhances Muscular Performance During High-Intensity Resistance Exercise.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 97.7 (1997): 765-70. Web.

The goals of healthy aging and the compression of morbidity

To many, the focus of healthy aging is to live as long as possible. We have seen the life expectancy in the United States increased from 47 years to 79 years over the last 150 years, but the maximum lifespan (oldest age people are capable of living to) has only increased marginally during the same period. There appears to be an age between 70 and 100 years old where our bodies are naturally no longer able to keep up with the challenges of everyday life and as a result, shut down (Fries, 2005). Therefore, the primary goal of healthy aging is to live through our physiologically set lifespan with the highest quality of life.

The compression of morbidity hypothesis was developed by James F. Fries of Stanford University School of Medicine and proposes that living an active lifestyle with good nutrition and practicing abstinence from dangerous habits such as smoking delays the onset of disability until the last years of life (Fries, 2005). For example, a sedentary and active senior may both live to 85 years old, but the sedentary senior may become disabled at age 75, while the active senior may not reach the same level of disability until age 84. The active senior will be able to maintain their lifestyle of choice for an additional 9 years.

A 21 year-long study following a group of runners with an average starting age of 58 years old found that the runners developed a disability corresponding to challenges performing one activity of daily living, such as walking, 8.6 years later than the control group (Chakravarty et al. 2008). The differences between groups diverged increasingly at higher levels of disability.

Additionally, the runners did not experience more osteoarthritis and had fewer knee and hip replacements than controls (Chakravarty et al. 2008; Chakravarty et al. 2008).

Habits like exercise, healthy nutrition, and not smoking are important because the occurrence of a significant medical event late in life often leads to disability. Seniors should exercise as protection against injuries that could threaten their self-sufficiency. It is never too early or too late for anyone to start.

Seniors can benefit from the cardiovascular components of aerobic exercises (e.g. hiking) and the improvements in strength and stability that come from intelligently programmed weight training. In the runner study, the investigators note that the runners should be viewed as multidisciplinary athletes because many of them gave up running for other training modalities during the study (Chakravarty et al. 2008). Fries suggests that the most important thing is to find an activity you like and stay as active as possible (Fell, 2015).

Understanding the concepts behind the compression of morbidity can lengthen the time seniors can live full, independent lives.

Further Reading:

Chicago Tribune Article

Overview of Compression of Morbidity

Review of research

Influence of lifestyle risk factors on compression of morbidity

123prevailTyler Paras – Prevail Intern

B.S. – Cellular Molecular Biology (Westmont)

Matriculating M.D. Candidate – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Tyler was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and began training at Prevail in October 2016. He attended Westmont College and will be attending medical school this fall. While at Westmont he graduated Summa Cum Laude, led a student-run homeless outreach program, and volunteered with medical clinics in Mexico and Bolivia.

After Tyler’s mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), he became interested in the cellular mechanisms behind the disease. He conducted his Major Honors project at Westmont on the role of the microbiome in inflammatory arthritis and conducted summers of research at Harvard Medical School studying the role of macrophages in RA. Including his critical care clinical research at Cottage Hospital, his research has resulted in seven presentations, three at national medical conferences.

Improving Sleep and Recovery in High School Athletes



These days, high school athletes are constantly finding themselves “in-season.” This could be the combination of school and club seasons for one sport athletes, the year-round rotating seasons of multiple sport athletes, or even rotating school sports alongside club seasons. So what strategies can we utilize to minimize burn-out, prevent injuries, and keep athletes at peak performance year-round? In addition to a proper strength and conditioning base, we can implement proper soft tissue care, nutrition, and proper rest.

Motivating high school athletes to be compliant with regular Myofascial release can be difficult (to say the least). And while we would like our high school athletes to be responsible for their own nutrition, it often falls on family routines and habits. So what can we most universally hold our athletes to? Sleep.

The most common response I get from athletes when asking how they’re feeling is: “I’m tired” — understandable! Young adults physiologically need more sleep. Waking up early for school combined with late practices (or often early morning practices for those in-water sports) and heaps of homework that are all too often left for the last minute… It makes it hard to get the full-recommended 7-9 hours.

So let’s focus on quality of sleep instead. If they can only get 7 hours, let’s make sure they get a good quality 7 hours. There are multiple proven strategies to increase quality of sleep without major sacrifice. The hardest strategy for high school athletes? Putting down their phones before bed. A 2009 study by the Surrey Sleep Research Centre confirmed that the blue light emitted by electronics such as phones, televisions, and computers decreases the feeling of sleepiness and improves cognitive performance. That’s all great, unless you want to go to sleep. Through inhibition of the production of a retinal protein, exposure to blue light before bed decreases sleep duration as well as quality of sleep.

If reducing blue light exposure seems out of reach to the athlete (and often, sadly, it may), there are other strategies. As the body prepares for and enters sleep, internal body temperature drops. To prevent interference with this natural change, it is best to keep the room cool (somewhere around 65 F).

Lastly, and perhaps the most intuitive strategy: complete darkness. Again with the light – the darker the room is, the less possibility there is for interference with optimal sleep patterns.

So let’s let our athletes not only sleep, but also sleep well. And who knows, you might sleep better too!

aliAli Barbeau – Prevail Trainer

Bachelor of Science – Biopsychology (UCSB)

Certified Personal Trainer (National Academy of Sports Medicine)

Ali grew up in Salinas, CA, where she developed a passion for volleyball at a young age. She competed year-round through middle and high school, and then signed on to play four years at UC Santa Barbara. In 2012, she started at UCSB and earned First Team All-Conference accolade, as well as serving as team captain for two years. After her athletic career came to a close, she turned to fitness and personal training as a way to stay active and healthy. She loves to help people improve and excel in their own heath journey and hopes to instill her passion for fitness and sports performance in others.


Should You Run?


Current trends in Fitness and Health (e.g. CVD risk factors, increases in BMI, Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Orthopedic injury in knees and backs, etc.) are not exactly following an upward trajectory, though some of them are beginning to taper off. Perhaps this is a turn towards the positive?

Present methods to combat these negative trends are, in my opinion, generally erroneous and may lead to poor outcomes, such as the following:
• Doing Long Slow Distance Cardio as the main source of Energy System Development.
• Jumping on the Gluten Free (or Dairy Free, or Vegan, or Juicing) bandwagon.
• Going all in on High Intensity, Orthopedically Risky Training protocols as the Gold Standard (i.e. Tabatas, Crossfit, Bootcamps).
• Taking on the P90X “Muscle Confusion” and “Do a Different Workout Everyday” Mantras as your own.
• Doing Nothing.

While none of these are inherently negative, we often have the wonderful response to these ‘new’ trends to embrace the novel and jump in without thought. Taking on the mantra of “more is better” as one’s own without proper evaluation on whether or not the chosen method is the right one results in improper care and recovery.

Case in point: Not everyone needs Steady State Cardio training (as was heavily promoted in the 1970’s). It’s not necessary for everyone nor even advisable for many. It is important to choose a training method that fits you and works for you.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology’s explored the idea of dosage as related to health benefit in the study “Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk.” Specifically, it looked at the associations of running with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risks in 55,137 adults, 18 to 100 years of age (mean age 44 years)” to explore the “long-term effects of running on mortality.”

The conclusion?

…5-10 minutes a day is great and will improve most health measures.

For those wondering, “Is more actually better?” take a look at the study by the American College of Cardiology, titled “1197-358 / 358 – Are Cardiovascular Risk Factors Responsible for the U-Shaped Relationship between Running and Longevity? The MASTERS Athletic Study”.

The synopsis of the study is this: those who ran more than 20 miles/week actually decreased life longevity compared to those who ran less that 20 miles.

Ask yourself:

“What is my goal? Why do I train? How much do I actually need? What is the minimum effective dose?”

Assess your needs, research your options, and make an educated decision.

Things to Come in 2016

Prevail Conditioning Performance Center is growing and expanding! We are excited to share with you what is coming in 2016.

Expanded Facility & New Equipment

Prevail Expansion

Four times the Square Footage! From 975sqft to 3800sqft, Prevail has expanded its space to become the largest space in Santa Barbara dedicated to performance enhancement training. Prevail’s new space features the following:
2 Lane 25 yard Acceleration Track
20 yard x 10 yard Turf Movement Area
4 Olympic Lifting Platforms
Motion Capture/Video Analysis
Workshop and Conference Room space
…over 4,000lbs of new weight (bumper plates, power blocks, medicine balls, kettlebells, prowler sleds, and more)

Expanded Group and Team Training Schedule!

Expanded Group Training Optios pic

With our increased space, we are excited to offer more options for training which include Youth and Adult Sports Performance, Metabolic &, Fitness and Post Rehab groups. We will be adding brand new groups for our expanded Youth Sports Performance schedule (youth, middle school, and high school athletes) as well as new groups for adults, including enhanced Metabolic Training, Adult performance and conditioning groups for the adult athletes and groups focused on moving from Post Rehab to function.

Open Gym Memberships

Prevail Space copy

We now have Open Gym Hours! Many of our clients have asked over the past several years for this option and we are excited to be able to offer this option. Beginning in 2016 we will have open gym memberships and hours available as either stand alone options or as an adjunct to all other packages for those who want to get in an extra day or two of training per week in Santa Barbara’s premier Performance Center.

New Pricing and Options & December Deals!

As the end of 2015 draws near and we look toward 2016, Prevail has positioned itself as a leader in the industry with new training groups, membership options, and state of the art facilities and equipment. As such, beginning with the New Year Prevail will have a 5% increase in prices in order to continue offering our clients industry leading services and facilities. This will be Prevail’s first price increase in 6 years. For those who have been thinking about starting a new private/semi-private training package or making the commitment to a group training schedule starting in 2016, don’t forget you can take advantage of our current pricing until February 1st, 2016!

Prevail Conditioning