In our orthopedic surgery practice at Rush, we see a lot of very active adults who try to keep a very balanced, healthy lifestyle, as well as people who like to work out on occasion. And then there are other people who have more of a commitment to working out and athletics. Matt Aaronson is one of those guys.
Matt got into marathon running, biking, swimming and competing in triathlons. But while he was training for the Boston Marathon, Matt began to experience hip pain. The location of Matt’s pain — in the hip and groin area — can make activities such as running and swimming very painful. It can even be painful in your daily life, for instance when you’re sitting for long periods, putting on your clothes or shoes, or climbing stairs.
Conservative therapies for the pain, such as anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and activity modification, had not worked for Matt. He was at the point where surgery was his best option.
Worried about that extra luggage you might acquire around the holidays, adding to an already expanded waistline? A review of studies evaluating holiday weight gain determined the average gain during the six-week period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to be only 0.8 pounds. However, for those individuals who were already overweight or obese, the gain was as much as five pounds. A more recent evaluation indicated that obese participants show greater increases in body fat over the holiday season compared to their normal weight counterparts.
Even if the number of pounds gained varies greatly, there’s the phenomenon commonly called “holiday creep.” We gain the most weight during the holidays and rarely shed it afterwards, so it accumulates over the years, until by middle age, we are a bit too hefty around the middle and elsewhere.
On a cool, sunny morning last October, as tens of thousands of runners raced east toward downtown, I was watching the Chicago Marathon from eight floors up, in a hospital room at Rush University Medical Center.
Instead of attempting what would have been my 11th 26.2-miler, I was being treated for atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat — or arrhythmia — that made it tough for me to run very fast, or very far.
I was diagnosed the previous spring, after weeks of struggling to run the 8:30-minute-per-mile pace that had become routine for me over the last 10 years. Even during relatively brief, three-mile outings, I had to stop every few minutes to catch my breath.
So I went to see my primary care doctor at Rush, who ordered the electrocardiogram that immediately revealed my arrhythmia. To be honest, I wasn’t all that surprised. I had suspected for several years, particularly after long marathon training runs, that my heartbeat was a little off. But even though I’m pretty health-conscious — maybe even borderline hypochondriac — I failed to appreciate that it could be something serious.
Megan Kono (right) and Rush Philanthropy colleague Deanna Wisthuff
By Megan Kono
For as long as I can remember, swimming has been a big part of my life. From tiny tots swim lessons to year-round club teams, from high school swimming all the way through college, the sport has served as a constant anchor for me growing up. But after graduating in 2011 and taking a position on the Philanthropy staff at Rush, I wasn’t sure that swimming would have a place in my life as an adult, and I certainly didn’t think it would weave into our mission at Rush. After learning about the partnership between Rush and Swim Across America, I’m happy to say I was wrong.
Swim Across America is a nationally recognized foundation dedicated to increasing both awareness and funds in the fight against cancer. Ordinary people all over the country take part in the many open water events that Swim Across America organizes, swimming to raise money for cancer research. This summer marks the second year that Swim Across America has partnered with Rush to raise funds for research projects in our cancer center. Once again, proceeds from the Swim Across America Chicago Open Water Swim on July 20 be will be used to forward cancer research at Rush and bring us one step closer to eradicating this awful illness.
Teams of specially trained “comfort dogs” visited and provided comfort to the survivors of the Oklahoma tornadoes, Boston marathon bombings and Sandy Hill school shootings. But what do we know about pets and the health of their owners? In particular, does pet ownership promote heart health?
The answer is probably yes. The American Heart Association recently published a scientific statement on pet ownership and risk for cardiovascular disease. This statement reviewed the results of research on pet ownership and high blood pressure, cholesterol, physical activity, obesity and even survival. Although some studies are conflicting, most show the following:
As an expectant mother with an active lifestyle, I had many questions about exercising during pregnancy. After some research and discussion with my doctor, I learned the following:
Gone are the days when women are discouraged from being active during pregnancy. Unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most if not all days of the week.
There are many benefits to exercising throughout pregnancy, including:
Preventing excess weight gain and fat accumulation
Decreased health problems such as gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced high blood pressure and postpartum depression
Fewer pregnancy discomforts such as backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
Improved your mood and energy level
Increased stamina and endurance, which will help prepare you for labor
Rush employee Bill Mietelski reflects on his healthier lifestyle, weight loss and ongoing participation in the Rush ELM program.
Has it really been 18 months? Around this time last year, I was looking back at my first six months as an “ELMster.”
I had lost 65 pounds — over 20 percent of my body weight — and was looking forward to a maintenance program Jennifer Ventrelle was creating for our Rush ELM group as we were about to “graduate.” The thing is, a healthy lifestyle is (cliché alert!) a journey and not a destination.
Since I had a little more weight to lose than most I was still shedding pounds as the maintenance phase got under way. Finally last fall (after 12 months) I reached my current weight of 195 and the real challenge began. (Losing weight is easy, but statistically only one in five overweight people are successful at long-term weight loss).
I started running for the Chicago Half Marathon and started to have anterior knee pain and instability. I also started to have lots of grinding in both knees. Will I need time to rest? Would a knee brace help?
Joshua Blomgren, DO:Anterior knee pain is a common complaint in runners. Very commonly the patellofemoral, or “knee cap” joint, is the culprit. The knee cap glides in a groove in the thigh bone with walking, running and activity. There is a complex interplay of leg alignment and muscular activity that contribute to the activity of the joint. If the joint is slightly out of alignment it can become painful. A lot of runners will experience it as they progress in their training. This is the likely cause, considering the pain and grinding sensation. There are some braces that can help improve the “knee cap” alignment, but most often a physical therapy program to strengthen the quadriceps and gluteus medius muscle can help alleviate your pain and help you to continue your training.
How important is post-run stretching in preventing injury? Any guidance on ideal length of time to spend stretching post-run?
Blomgren: Stretching has been shown in multiple studies to aid in injury prevention. There are two types of stretching — static and dynamic. Static is the more commonly known type as this is the commonly thought of “reach, stretch and hold.” Dynamic stretching is stretching the muscles as you are using them. Dynamic stretching has been shown to be most beneficial as part of the warm-up, and static stretching is done as part of a cool-down. Make sure to focus on the major muscle groups of the legs.