10 Tips to Avoid Athletic Injuries*


1.   Start and STAY hydrated.   Proper hydration takes place several days before activity.  You can’t fill up the same day.  You’ll only get stomach upset and can risk over-hydration.

 2.   Always start with a proper warm up of at least 5 minutes of low intensity continuous movement before beginning activity.

 3.   Maintain a strong core.  Your core maintains proper spinal alignment and can reduce the risk of degenerative changes in the back. The core is composed of muscles above your pelvis up to your ribcage.

 4.   Stand/sit up straight!!  Bad posture can wreak havoc on your neck, shoulders and back.

 5.   Begin your workout slowly.  Start with a dynamic warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for the activities to follow.  Exaggerate the movements that you will be reproducing during your workout.

 6.   Stretch statically after your workout.  Allow your warm muscles to return to their optimal resting length as a reward for their hard work.  Utilize equipment (stretching straps) to avoid continued overwork of used muscles.  Hold a strong stretch for approximately 30 seconds in a controlled manner.  NEVER to the point of pain.  ALWAYS repeat each stretch several times.

 7.      STOP activity immediately if you experience a sudden onset of sharp pain.  Pain is your body’s only way of telling you that something’s wrong.  Do NOT try to stretch out.  Try resting easy for a few minutes.  If pain continues.  STOP and RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

 8.      Inspect your footwear for signs of uneven wear often and replace as needed.  At the first sign of aches/pains, inspect your footwear.  Your footwear should be activity appropriate and should feel like you’ve just received a gift when you put them on.  Appropriate footwear is your body’s 1st line of defense against concrete (the surface we walk on most).

 9.      Pain that doesn’t resolve in a couple of days is NOT normal.  Seek professional assistance.

 10.  Allow sufficient recovery time between workouts of the same body parts.  Allow at least 48 hours between bouts of intense exercise of the same body parts.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise every day.  You can.  Just allow appropriate rest between bouts of intense exercise to optimize performance.  When you develop elite status after years and years of practice – your brain/body connections will allow you to repeat intense exercise daily.  NOT UNTIL THEN!!

 *Even with the best of preparation, injuries can still occur.


Physically fit kids score higher on reading and math, research reveals

Newswise — ORLANDO, Fla. — Having a healthy heart and lungs may be one of the most important factors for middle school students to make good grades in math and reading, according to findings presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

“Cardiorespiratory fitness was the only factor that we consistently found to have an impact on both boys’ and girls’ grades on reading and math tests,” said study co-author Trent A. Petrie, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Sport Psychology at the University of North Texas. “This provides more evidence that schools need to re-examine any policies that have limited students’ involvement in physical education classes.”


The researchers gathered data at five Texas middle schools from 1,211 students, of whom 54 percent were female with an average age of about 12. Overall, the group was 57 percent white. Among the boys, the breakdown was 57.2 percent white, 24.2 percent Mexican-American, 9.1 percent African American, 1.1 percent Asian-American and 1.2 percent American Indian. For the girls, 58.6 percent were white, 23.4 percent were Mexican-American, 9.2 percent were African-American, 2.3 percent Asian-American and 0.6 percent were American Indian.

While previous studies have found links between being physically fit and improved academic performance, this study also examined several other potential influences, including self-esteem and social support. It also took into account the students’ socioeconomic status and their self-reported academic ability, Petrie said.

In addition to cardiorespiratory fitness, social support was related to better reading scores among boys, according to the study. It defined social support as reliable help from family and friends to solve problems or deal with emotions. For girls, having a larger body mass index was the only factor other than cardiorespiratory fitness that predicted better reading scores. For boys and girls, cardiorespiratory fitness was the only factor related to their performance on the math tests. “The finding that a larger body mass index for girls was related to better performance on the reading exam may seem counterintuitive, however past studies have found being overweight was not as important for understanding boys and girls performances on tests as was their level of physical fitness,” Petrie said.

From one to five months before the students were to take annual standardized reading and math tests, they answered questions about their level of physical activity, and how they viewed their academic ability, self-esteem and social support. The school district provided information on the students’ socioeconomic status and reading and math scores at the end of the year.


To determine students’ physical fitness, the researchers worked with physical education teachers to administer a fitness assessment program widely used in U.S. schools. The program includes a variety of tests to assess aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. The assessment provides an objective measure of cardiorespiratory fitness through the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run, or PACER, and body composition through measuring BMI, the study said.

“Because this is a longitudinal study, these variables can now be considered risk factors in relation to middle school students’ performance on math and reading examinations,” Petrie said. “And that is essential to developing effective programs to support academic success.”


Phys Ed: The Benefits of Weight Training for Children

Trisha Cluck/Getty Images

Back in the 1970s, researchers in Japan studied child laborers and discovered that, among their many misfortunes, the juvenile workers tended to be abnormally short. Physical labor, the researchers concluded, with its hours of lifting and moving heavy weights, had stunted the children’s growth. Somewhat improbably, from that scientific finding and other similar reports, as well as from anecdotes and accreting myth, many people came to believe “that children and adolescents should not” practice weight training, said Avery Faigenbaum, a professor of exercise science at the College of New Jersey. That idea retains a sturdy hold in the popular imagination. As a recent position paper on the topic of children and resistance training points out, many parents, coaches and pediatricians remain convinced that weight training by children will “result in short stature, epiphyseal plate” — or growth plate — “damage, lack of strength increases due to a lack of testosterone and a variety of safety issues.”

Phys Ed

Kids, in other words, many of us believe, won’t get stronger by lifting weights and will probably hurt themselves. But amajor new review just published in Pediatrics, together with a growing body of other scientific reports, suggest that, in fact, weight training can be not only safe for young people, it can also be beneficial, even essential.

In the Pediatrics review, researchers with the Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics in Cologne, Germany, analyzed 60 years’ worth of studies of children and weightlifting. The studies covered boys and girls from age 6 to 18. The researchers found that, almost without exception, children and adolescents benefited from weight training. They grew stronger. Older children, particularly teenagers, tended to add more strength than younger ones, as would be expected, but the difference was not enormous. Over all, strength gains were “linear,” the researchers found. They didn’t spike wildly after puberty for boys or girls, even though boys at that age are awash in testosterone, the sex hormone known to increase muscle mass in adults. That was something of a surprise. On the other hand, a reliable if predictable factor was consistency. Young people of any age who participated in resistance training at least twice a week for a month or more showed greater strength gains than those who worked out only once a week or for shorter periods.

Over all, the researchers concluded, “regardless of maturational age, children generally seem to be capable of increasing muscular strength.”

That finding, which busts one of the most pervasive myths about resistance training for young people — that they won’t actually get stronger — is in accord with the results and opinions of most researchers who have studied the subject. “We’ve worked with kindergartners, having them just use balloons and dowels” as strength training tools, “and found that they developed strength increases,” said Dr. Faigenbaum, a widely acknowledged expert on the topic of youth strength training. (His most recent book is in fact titled “Youth Strength Training.”)

But interestingly, young people do not generally add muscular power in quite the same way as adults. They rarely pack on bulk. Adults, particularly men but also women, typically add muscle mass when they start weight training, a process known as muscular hypertrophy (or, less technically, getting buff). Youths do not add as much or sometimes any obvious muscle mass as a result of strength training, which is one of the reasons many people thought they did not grow stronger. Their strength gains seem generally to involve “neurological” changes, Dr. Faigenbaum said. Their nervous systems and muscles start interacting more efficiently. A few small studies have shown that children develop a significant increase in motor-unit activation within their muscles after weight training. A motor unit consists of a single neuron and all of the muscle cells that it controls. When more motor units fire, a muscle contracts more efficiently. So, in essence, strength training in children seems to liberate the innate strength of the muscle, to activate the power that has been in abeyance, unused.

And that fact, from both a physiological and philosophical standpoint, is perhaps why strength training for children is so important, a growing chorus of experts says. “We are urban dwellers stuck in hunter-gatherer bodies,” said Lyle Micheli, M.D., the director of sports medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston and professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard University, as well as a co-author, with Dr. Faigenbaum, of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s 2009 position paper about children and resistance training. “That’s true for children as well as adults. There was a time when children ‘weight trained’ by carrying milk pails and helping around the farm. Now few children, even young athletes, get sufficient activity” to fully strengthen their muscles, tendons and other tissues. “If a kid sits in class or in front of a screen for hours and then you throw them out onto the soccer field or basketball court, they don’t have the tissue strength to withstand the forces involved in their sports. That can contribute to injury.”

Consequently, many experts say, by strength training, young athletes can reduce their risk of injury, not the reverse. “The scientific literature is quite clear that strength training is safe for young people, if it’s properly supervised,” Dr. Faigenbaum says. “It will not stunt growth or lead to growth-plate injuries. That doesn’t mean young people should be allowed to go down into the basement and lift Dad’s weights by themselves. That’s when you see accidents.” The most common, he added, involve injuries to the hands and feet. “Unsupervised kids drop weights on their toes or pinch their fingers in the machines,” he said.

In fact, the ideal weight-training program for many children need not involve weights at all. “The body doesn’t know the difference between a weight machine, a medicine ball, an elastic band and your own body weight,” Dr. Faigenbaum said. In his own work with local schools, he often leads physical-education class warm-ups that involve passing a medicine ball (usually a “1 kilogram ball for elementary-school-age children” and heavier ones for teenagers) or holding a broomstick to teach lunges safely. He has the kids hop, skip and leap on one leg. They do some push-ups, perhaps one-handed on a medicine ball for older kids. (For specifics about creating strength-training programs for young athletes of various ages, including teenagers, and avoiding injury, visit, a Web site set up by Dr. Faigenbaum, or the Children’s Hospital Boston sports medicine site.)

As for the ideal age to start weight training, Dr. Faigenbaum said: “Any age is a good age. But there does seem to be something special about the time from about age 7 to 12. The nervous system is very plastic. The kids are very eager. It seems to be an ideal time to hard-wire strength gains and movement patterns.” And if you structure a program right, he added, “it can be so much fun that it never occurs to the kids that they’re getting quote-unquote ‘strength training’ at all.”


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By Ian Kilpatrick, Director of Community Relations at CATZ Needham

This past Saturday the enthusiastically welcoming staff of Lululemon Atletica in Natick invited me to “workout in their window.”  I had no idea what that meant at first, but they explained that it was exactly how it sounded, they have different people in the fitness profession display their unique style of fitness in the window of the store where lazy yet very fit mannequins are usually displayed.  Sounds pretty awkward right?.

I told them I’d do it if one of their educators (that’s what lulu calls their employees) and my friend Lindsey did it with me to deflect some of the attention I’d be getting from the hundreds of ambitious Christmas shoppers that would be prowling the Natick Mall on a Saturday afternoon.  I was still a little hesitant to be on display working out in front of strangers even with a friend, but I’m working on not turning down the opportunity to try things out of my comfort zone especially if it will give CATZ so much exposure.

If there is one store with positive energy, it’s Lululemon, so when I got there I felt  welcomed and any anxiety faded away.  The space I had to work with was smaller than expected, but on par with the CATZ philosophy you can get a good workout done in any amount of space.  I underestimated the chaos that is the Natick Mall pre-Christmas so the amount of people walking by the window and literally stopping and watching amazed me.  I tried not to look out of the window, but from what I caught out of the corner of my eye there were reactions that ranged from confusion, to intrigue, to weirded out.  Though my favorite reaction came from a toddler who waddled right up to the window slapped her tiny hands on it while I was doing a push-ups and was so excited she looked at me with a Buddy the Elf like smile.

In the long run, fun trumped all awkwardness and I would even do it again… with someone else of course, it’s always more fun to get hot and sweaty together as the Lulu window suggests.

Below I’ve posted the workout Lindsey and I did, try it out!

-Ring  in in out outs for 30 seconds, stepping out on the sides of the ring.  (if you dont have a ring you can just take small steps as if there was one there)

-Dumbbell pick up from your front foot and reach back shifting your weight from front to back foot.  You are in a split stance for this, the dumbbell being in the opposite hand from the forward foot.  8 with each foot forward.

 -Ring up up back backs

-Dumbell pick up and punch across your body in a split stance.  8 with each foot forward

 -Ring Icky Shuffle (in in out, in in out going side to side)

-Dumbbell pick up and overhead press in a split stance.  8 with each foot forward.

 –Perform all 3 ring exercises for 20 seconds each

-Perform all three split stance pick up exercises 4 each way with each foot forward

 Water Break

-Single leg RDL, bend at the hips and reach down to the ground keeping your leg straight and using your hamstrings and glutes to stand back up.

-Dumbbell hip toss, toss the dumbbell from hip to hipwith your knees bent slightly  making a triangle shape with the motion of the dumbbell

-Lawn mower, split stance, slightly bent over, reach your elbow straight back

-Russian twists,  sitting in a v-sit bring the dumbbell from side to side by twisting your upper body

-Squat jumps

 Do these all for 10 repetitions and go through it 3 times

 Water Break

 -Lateral Skater hops, jumping sideways off one foot and landing on the other 20 each direction

-Split stand chest press out and push press up with the dumbbell 10 times with each foot forward

 Do those two exercises 3 times through

Water Break

 -Screamers, or a burpee with a pushup

-Mountain Climbers


-V-sit rows, start with your hands and feet out and bring them in together while in a V-sit

 Do all those exercises 10 times then 8 then 6 then 4 then 2



What I Learned Running My First Half Marathon

By Ian Kilpatrick, Director of Community Relations and Coach

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On November 13th I ran the Chilly Half Marathon with some of my co-workers and friends of CATZ in my home town of Newton, Mass.  Our team raised over $1,000 for the American Liver Foundation.  I felt like sharing my experience so here is what I learned:

In no particular order…

The difference between running alone and running in an organized race is amazing

In all honesty, long distance running is by far my least favorite form of exercise. I can understand what people love about it and why they get hooked on it, but quite frankly I find it boring, repetitive and lacking a competitive aspect.  HOWEVER, running along side over 1,000 people who in one form or another have the same goal as you made a huge difference to me. I’m actually looking forward to doing it again and improving my time or taking on a longer distance, now how do we make the training fun…?

Leg strength helps drastically on hills

Mark and I felt like we kicked butt on the hills and I have no doubt that all of the plate pushes, bag pushes, squats, lunges and box jumps we do at CATZ are to thank for that.  Finding your breath was the biggest challenge on the hills.

Running with someone that has the same goal as you makes all the difference

There are a lot of ways running with my co-worker Mark Cinelli, AKA Mr. Fit, the whole time helped me. The biggest help was with the pace.  Having never run that far before and having slacked on my training I really had no idea how to set and keep the right pace.  Fortunately Mark had a decent game plan that I almost felt bad mooching off of.  He picked it up at points where I was thinking about slowing down, but since I knew we had the same goal I pushed myself to stick with him.

Another huge help running with him provided was someone to talk and/or complain to.  Just knowing I could share any random thought with someone at all times for some reason was a great mental distraction from the pounding my knees were taking.

The last benefit was motivation. We’re both competitive and if we were going to run this far both being sworn enemies to running we were going to do it the best we could for a first try.

CATZ works even for long distance running

I swear this isn’t a shameless plug for the place I work!  I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say my “long distance run training” could barely be called that.  I think I got up to just under 7 miles on my runs and ran that far twice in my training, however I went into my CATZ workouts a little over a month before knowing the race was coming up and also was in the middle of a fitness challenge.  Because of that, I pushed myself in almost every session leading up to the half marathon. Some of you reading this may say yea, but you’re like 20 years old (I’m 26) of course you could do that without training hard and my first answer would be, is looking 20 at 26 good for a guy? Then my second would be that I remember days before I went to CATZ being miserably exhausted after a 2 mile run so I’m going to give CATZ most of the credit on achieving my goal of 1:45!

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