The Gluteal Fold: How to Target the Underbutt for Weight Loss with the Top 5 Gluteal Exercises

How to lose fat from the gluteal fold: a keto diet for getting rid of stubborn fat deposits, exercises to help tighten the gluteal area, and possible surgical options to get the physique you desire. Also find out why this underbutt fat is so persistent (hint: it may have to do with your smarts).

The gluteal fold or gluteal crease is that area just under your butt, specifically that space on the lower border of the gluteus maximus muscle that is also known as the upper thigh. Many people have a hard time losing the fat that clings to the gluteal furrow—much like so-called “love handles” and “saddlebags,” the fat that forms around the body’s midsection and hips is notoriously hard to lose.

Why is this fat so hard to eliminate, how can diet help shed those last few pounds, and what gluteal fold exercises accentuate a more prominent fold separating the buttocks and thighs? We have all these answers and more, including why some people may want to consider buttock reconstruction surgery.

Why Does Fat Cling to the Gluteal Fold?

From an evolutionary standpoint, both men and women accumulate fat on their torsos for many reasons: fat storage exists to guard against times of famine and to insulate the body during harsh winters. While most people in the modern world have the opposite issue (an overabundance of food, much of which is unhealthy), our bodies are still designed to cling to fat. Fat for fuel and fat for insulation equates to fat retention throughout our midsections.

However, the most basic anatomic study reveals that men and women store fat (adipose tissue) on their frames differently. Men may find that they have what’s known colloquially as a “beer gut,” fat storage between the ribs and waist, while women often store fat in their hips, thighs, and buttocks. There may be an evolutionary reason for this as well.

Scientific surveys show that a woman’s waist-to-hip ratio correlates with higher cognitive abilities in her children, specifically that women with an hourglass shape who have a larger hip to waist circumference have significantly higher cognitive test scores (as do their children) than women who store fat more evenly throughout the body.

The possible explanation for this phenomenon is that neurodevelopmental resources are stored in lower body fat, like omega-3 fatty acids, which also contribute to neurocognitive abilities when they’re prioritized in the diets of female children in particular. Evidence suggests the DHA omega-3 contribution to breast milk helps improve math scores in children more predictably than money spent on education. These findings have been verified in countries across the globe.

In addition, the babies of teenage mothers with a low hip-to-waist ratio (meaning an hourglass or pear-shaped body) are better protected against the cognitive reductions associated with teen births.

So, if you wonder why this fat clings so tenaciously to the female form, the reason is at least positive: it’s where brain-developing assets are stored.

These findings have also led researchers to hypothesize that the curvy Marilyn Monroe body type found so attractive by a significant portion of men may be in part due their biological imperative to produce intelligent offspring.

Why Does Fat Cling to the Gluteal Fold?

Diet for Gluteal Fold Weight Loss

Once you’re a fully cognitively developed adult trying to get into shape, extra fat on the upper limit of the thigh just below your butt is unnecessary, and for some, it’s a real issue when it comes to their self-esteem and body positivity. One way to eliminate fat in the gluteal region and throughout the body (including visceral body fat that could be lingering in organs like the liver) is to follow a ketogenic diet.

The keto diet prioritizes healthy fatty foods over sugary foods like carbohydrates. In order to reach the desired state of ketosis, dieters must adhere to a macronutrient ratio of 75% fats, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.

The body’s ketogenic metabolism is another remnant of evolutionary development, as it drives fat storage for use in times of famine. This metabolism kicks in to take the place of sugar (glucose) in times of scarcity. Once in ketosis, your body starts burning fat in the form of ketones, and in doing so, can eliminate fat from your butt, your lower limbs, and your midsection.

The keto diet can not only target unseen and stubborn fat, but it also helps some people with type 2 diabetes better manage their condition without the need for medication.

Bonus: keto foods like avocados, nuts, and fish contain the omega-3 fatty acids that aid brain development, so you can lose that gluteal fat storage without saying goodbye to the omega-3 advantage.

Diet for Gluteal Fold Weight Loss

Top 5 Gluteal Fold Exercises

Here are five exercises you can bring to the gym on leg day that help target your underbutt, or the gluteal sulcus area if you want to get fancy with terminology. If you’re hitting the gym to bring muscle development to your gluteal fold area, we suggest you look into amino acid supplements, as new muscle cannot form without a full balance of all nine essential aminos.

1. Squats

  1. With your feet shoulder width apart, cross your arms and place a hand on each shoulder (or hold a barbell across your shoulders to maintain upper body posture).
  2. Next, shift your weight behind you, more to your heels than the balls of your feet to protect your knees.
  3. Squat down into a 90-degree angle (the lower you go the more you target the glutes).
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Challenge yourself to increase the number of reps you do each day. Start with 10, then 20, then 50…perhaps all the way to 100!

This exercise also helps target your quad strength (the muscle on the front of the thigh).

2. Step-Ups

  1. Find a step or stair (no taller than your own knees) and step up onto it with one leg: this is your base leg.
  2. When you step up, kick back with the other leg, keeping your hands on your hips for support (or grab a couple of weights to add more power to this exercise).
  3. Repeat on the same leg 15 times before switching to the other leg.
  4. Do at least 3 reps each side.

This move helps to strengthen the legs, tone the area of the gluteal-fold flap, and improve your balance.

3. Kneeling Squats

  1. Use a barbell (either loose or in a Smith machine as seen in the video) to perform the same squat discussed in exercise #1 on this list, but this time from the knees.
  2. Focus on squeezing the buttocks together as you perform the exercise to maximize the movement.
  3. Perform 15 reps (you can increase reps once you’ve gained enough strength).

This modification really concentrates the activity around your glutes instead of dispersing the workout over the entire lower body.

4. Gluteal Deadlifts

  1. With your feet shoulder width apart, place your hands on the barbell (whether on lifting blocks or in a Smith machine), with your palms either over or under the bar.
  2. Keep your arms straight as you lift the weight with your hips and glutes.
  3. Complete 10 to 15 reps. Be sure to protect your back during this lift, possibly with a weight belt or the aid of a trainer.

Deadlifting with a focus on your glute development is a more advanced lift intended for those who are already comfortable with traditional deadlifting and have the confidence that they can do so safely without jeopardizing their backs. It’s important that you use a Smith machine or lifting blocks as this is not a full deadlift (from the floor), but a half-rep from about the height of your knees to target the glutes and get them to pop away from the gluteal fold, creating definition and rise at the lower limit of the buttock.

5. Hamstring Curls

  1. Locate a seated hamstring curl machine and select the weight appropriate for you (the hamstring curl should take place solely in the lower body; if you have to engage your back muscles, the weight is too high).
  2. Pull down the bar and squeeze at the bottom of the pull.
  3. Perform 15 reps.

Hamstring curls can also be done with the aid of a medicine ball (under the feet), a stability ball (under the calves), or with a seated hamstring curl machine (as seen in the video). Use the equipment and version you’re most comfortable with, either from a seated position with a machine, or a supine position with the aid of exercise balls. If you’re using a weighted machine, be sure that you don’t engage your upper body to curl your legs—the point is to target the hamstrings, the muscles on the backside of your thigh directly beneath the gluteal fold.

Top 5 Gluteal Fold Exercises

Gluteal Fold Surgery

Gluteal fold surgery or gluteal fold lipoplasty is a cosmetic procedure that creates a horizontal gluteal crease between the buttock and the thigh. If you eat well, work out properly, and still can’t get the results you’re looking for, a consultation at a plastic and reconstructive surgery office may offer the solution you are looking for.

Plastic surgery is no vanity project. It’s an important intersection of medicine and mental health that can restore a sense of self to cancer patients who must lose certain body parts, resolve one’s inner gender with their outer sex presentation, and remove symptoms of depression and anguish by fixing a feature that cannot be altered any other way.

For some, a surgical solution may mean butt implants that create a gluteal fold, for others, it may mean liposuction and gluteal reshaping. Once fat cells are created, they don’t go away on their own, they only shrink or swell as you lose or gain weight.

Make an appointment with a trusted plastic surgeon to find out if your health and circumstances make you a candidate for gluteal fold surgery.

Gluteal Fold Surgery

Gluteal Fold Pain

Gluteal fold pain might also lead you to a doctor’s office. This is known as deep gluteal fold syndrome and is characterized by numbness in the buttocks or down the back of your legs. Gluteal fold syndrome could be the result of a pinched nerve, compressed blood vessels, or piriformis syndrome (an issue with the piriformis muscle under your glutes that is intertwined with your sciatic nerve).

If you have a hard time sitting for long periods of time, unexplained pain in your lower back, or numbness, it’s important to see a doctor and eliminate causes such as spinal damage or tumors that may be pressing against your nerves. However, if your discomfort is a simpler matter of a tight or swollen piriformis muscle, there are additional gluteus and piriformis stretches you can perform to relieve lower body and gluteal pain.

Gluteal Fold Pain

Know When to Fold ‘Em

Now your knowledge of the butt and its gluteal fold is perfectly well-rounded. We hope these tips for eliminating unwanted fat from one of the most stubborn areas of the body help you achieve your goals of being healthy and happy with your backside.

Different Types of Musculoskeletal Pain and How to Tackle Their Treatment

Learn about the various disorders and injuries that can cause musculoskeletal pain, what it takes to diagnose these conditions, and which treatment options are available for problems in the bones, the soft tissues, and the nerves.

Musculoskeletal pain is any pain taking place in our muscles, bones, nerves, joints, tendons, or ligaments. That could be localized pain in your back or full-body pain that comes with disorders like fibromyalgia. This article discusses the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain and how to go about seeking treatment and pain management in a safe, healthy way.

Causes of Musculoskeletal Pain

The most common symptom of musculoskeletal disorders is pain, anywhere from mild and aching to severe pain. Certain health conditions can bring on long-lasting chronic pain (longer than 3 months), while some contribute to short-lived instances of acute pain. The pain experienced may be concentrated or widespread throughout the body. Here are some of those conditions.

  • Joint pain (arthralgia) and joint inflammation (arthritis): Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition, and types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune issues such as gout, ankylosing spondylitis, and lupus. Joint pain can also be felt if there’s an issue with bursae sacs, which are small fluid-filled pockets that provide cushion between many of our joints.
  • Bone disorders: Conditions including osteoporosis, scoliosis, and osteomyelitis (a bone infection) can cause pain in your bones. Bone pain is usually dull and deep, and may also be a sign of cancerous tumors within the bones or pressing against the bones.
  • Muscle conditions: Muscle pain is known as “myalgia,” and while it’s often less intense than bone pain, a muscle spasm like a Charley horse can be shockingly painful. A life-threatening condition such as rhabdomyolysis (muscle disintegration) can be caused by injury, loss of blood flow, or overuse (including intense workouts), and causes pain when it disrupts kidney function. The disorder polymyalgia rheumatica causes severe pain in the neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, and hips. Sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) leads to aches and pains as it causes weaker muscles, which leads to weaker bones, a higher risk of injury, and lower muscle reserves when the amino acid content of your musculature is needed in times of crisis and healing (wound repair, fighting infection).
  • Tendon and ligament pain: When tendons and ligaments are stretched too far, compressed, irritated, or injured, tendon and ligament pain can ensue. Connective tissue pain is often sharper than bone pain and can point to common conditions such as tendonitis of the wrist, elbow, foot, etc., as well as sprains and tears due to injury.
  • Nerve pain: Conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome cause pain by compressing the nerves and sending waves of radiating pain throughout the body. Fibromyalgia, largely still misunderstood, is likely a central nervous system disorder and pain condition that involves trigger points throughout the body and can affect the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, as well as cause sleep disturbances.
  • Injuries and overuse: These are external causes of pain, such as car accidents, sports injuries, or serious falls that result in broken bones or torn tissues. Overuse, poor posture, and long-term bed rest due to surgery or illness can also result in musculoskeletal pain.

The aforementioned conditions are general causes of acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain, and just a handful of the hundreds of pain syndromes and disorders that can befall us. In fact, sometimes organ conditions can cause pain in other areas of the body (known as referred pain), like spleen pain manifesting as shoulder pain, a kidney stone presenting as back pain, or a heart attack causing pain in one’s left arm.

What is Musculoskeletal Pain?

Musculoskeletal Pain Symptoms and When to See a Doctor

If you have unexplained pain, it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Musculoskeletal conditions can range from mild concerns like low back pain due to bad posture or conditions as serious as cancer.

Your physician will most likely ask for your symptoms and medical history. It can be difficult to describe the musculoskeletal pain you may be feeling. Perhaps the following descriptions can help you identify your pain clearly in the hopes of receiving a quick diagnosis.

  • Joint pain: Usually easy to pinpoint due to its location, joint pain often involves aching, burning, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Bone pain: Deep and dull, bone pain may be far more difficult to ignore than soft tissue pain.
  • Muscle pain: Cramps, aches, and muscle seizures tend to come on fast and are very apparent. A cramp with a known cause that subsides may not need medical attention, but persistent muscle pain could indicate an underlying disorder, vitamin deficiency, or injury.
  • Tendon pain: Often sharp at the time of injury, tendon pain amplifies when you use the tendon and only abates when you rest. Tendon injuries may worsen if you don’t get treatment right away.
  • Nerve pain: A compressed nerve may present with “pins and needles” sensations, tingling, burning, soreness, weakness, or uncontrolled twitching in the area.

Keep in mind that conditions such as lupus and fibromyalgia don’t often have a centralized point of pain, but instead manifest as all-over aching. Your doctor may run tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Musculoskeletal Pain Symptoms 

Diagnosing Musculoskeletal Pain

Your health care professional may use the following tools to diagnose the pain you’re experiencing.

  • Physical examination: Many doctors are able to narrow down the causes of pain by manipulating the body and asking targeted questions about the pain you’re feeling.
  • Blood tests: A blood test may quickly reveal the specific condition you’re dealing with, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Imaging tests: X-rays can reveal the condition of your bones, while an MRI or CT scan can help diagnose conditions affecting the soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bursae.
  • Joint fluid tests: A joint aspiration procedure can provide fluid that may reveal whether you’re dealing with an infection or a condition like gout.

Diagnosing Musculoskeletal Pain

Various Musculoskeletal Pain Treatments

The treatment you need depends on the cause of the pain you’re experiencing. Your condition may require the following expertise.

  • Rheumatology: A rheumatologist is called for in cases of arthritis, rheumatism, and other disorders of the joints, ligaments, and muscles.
  • Chiropractic care: A chiropractor can treat lower back pain caused by skeletal or joint misalignments (instead of by diseases like cancer) with orthotic shoes, braces, and therapies, as well as any nerve disorders that arise from an issue surrounding the spinal cord.
  • Neuropathic care: Nerve disorders or pain from central nervous system damage are best treated by a neuropathologist.

After the underlying cause of pain is identified, pain management of the musculoskeletal system becomes key. This may involve physical therapy like therapeutic massage, acupuncture or acupressure treatment options, biofeedback techniques, or pain-relieving medications (anything from acetaminophen, NSAIDs like ibuprofen, corticosteroid injections, or opioids). Natural anti-inflammatory aids are often preferable over pharmaceutical drugs if they work for you, and support devices such as orthotics may help you avoid more extreme remedies, including surgery.

Various Musculoskeletal Pain Treatments

Amino Acid Support for Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain, as the name suggests, involves both the musculature, the skeleton, and the connective tissues like joints and ligaments that bind them together. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and muscle, but they have responsibilities throughout the body in tissue creation, tissue maintenance, hormone balance, and more. Here’s how maintaining proper amino acid levels can help relieve musculoskeletal pain.

  • Natural analgesic assistance: Analgesics drugs are pain relievers, but the body has its own analgesic system in the pain-modulating neurotransmitters serotonin, endorphin, and the amino acid GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). For example, amino acid supplementation with tryptophan has led to fibromyalgia pain relief in a matter of days, effective treatment even when the cause of the pain is still unclear.
  • Joint pain relief: Collagen amino acids can help relieve pain in arthritic and injury-related joint pain by repairing and improving connective tissue function. Collagen is not just isolated to our tendons and ligaments but helps to strengthen our muscles, bones, and skin as well.
  • Muscle repair: All nine essential amino acids (EAAs) are required to build new muscle cells. In muscle disorders that lead to wasting or painful muscle injuries, repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue can only be done with a full, balanced host of the essential amino acids, otherwise the body is forced to harvest healthy cells for those compounds (what’s known as catabolism).
  • Bone health: Bones have a similar (albeit slower) turnover and rejuvenation process as muscles and require many of the same substances, including collagen molecules and the essential amino acids. In cases of bone degeneration like osteoporosis, retaining bone density is paramount and cannot be done if there’s an amino acid deficiency.

Amino acids are found naturally in protein foods like eggs, dairy, animal meats, nuts, and plant foods like legumes, but the amino acid makeup varies in each one. To ensure you have a consistently balanced amount of the essential amino acids, we suggest a comprehensive EAA supplement like the one designed by the doctors and developers here at AminoCo.

Proper Treatment

The type of specialist or treatment you need can only be found once you’ve identified where your musculoskeletal pain is coming from and its cause. Assess your symptoms, consult an expert, and get the proper treatment you deserve as quickly as possible so you can maintain your precious health.

Is Donating Plasma Safe? The Risks and Rewards of Plasma Donation

Is donating plasma safe? Find out how plasma is used to treat life-threatening conditions, what the plasmapheresis process entails for first-time donors, and how to avoid both common side effects and rare complications that may arise from plasma donation.

Many people are familiar with annual drives to get blood donations, but what are the extra steps involved in plasma donations? Find out why people become plasma donors, what donated plasma is used for in hospitals and treatment facilities, and most importantly: is donating plasma safe enough for you?

Why Donate Plasma?

Donating plasma is often referred to as giving “the gift of life.” A plasma transfusion can help save lives that would otherwise be lost and help treat chronic rare diseases that have no other alternative or cure. Plasma donation is also the gift that gives back.

Because the plasma collection process is longer and takes more out of you than the normal whole blood donation process, you are paid for your time. Donors are paid for the amount of plasma they can donate, and usually the larger the donor, the more plasma they can supply. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes the following categories of plasma donors based on weight.

  • Between 110 and 149 pounds
  • Between 150 and 174 pounds
  • Above 175 and up to 400 pounds

Payments range between $20 and $50 per donation (rates depend on the company operating the plasma center), and you are allowed to donate 2 times within a 7-day period, so long as you allow at least 48 hours between donations. Assuming you’re healthy enough, that means you could donate 2 or 3 times a week for a month and make hundreds of dollars for your time.

For those in good health, donating the plasma proteins in your blood can be an easy way to make extra cash and provide important biological material for life-saving treatments. Read on to learn how your plasma is used, what the donation process entails, and some tips for safety and comfort as you donate.

Why Donate Plasma?

What Is Plasma Used For?

The following components make plasma uniquely suited for specific medical treatments.

  • Albumin: Albumin is used to treat surgical patients, trauma cases, and burn survivors. Albumin is a protein synthesized by the liver that helps retain fluid in your bloodstream. It reduces edema formation around damaged tissue and replaces the loss of blood volume sustained during injury or surgery.
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT): Commonly referred to as genetic emphysema, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency occurs in individuals who have inherited abnormal AAT genes from both biological parents, which leads to a lack of the AAT protein. The AAT protein functions to protect the lungs from inflammation caused by environmental fumes (including cigarette smoke) and infections. Without it, alpha-1 patients are more likely to develop serious lung and/or liver diseases. An infusion of plasma-derived AAT can save their lives.
  • Clotting factors: Those with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia are unable to clot blood effectively. Minor injuries that would cause minimal bruising for healthy individuals could cause internal bleeding, critical organ damage, and death in those without enough clotting factors. Clotting factors are among the proteins donated via plasma.
  • Immunoglobulin (IVIG): Individuals with primary immune deficiency disorders (PIDs) do not respond normally to regular antibiotics and require donated IVIG to help prevent infections and to treat immunodeficiency disorders like B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia and inflammatory demyelinating disorders. IVIG may also help treat myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and multiple sclerosis, though research is still ongoing.
  • Hyperimmune globulins: Donated hyperimmune globulins are used to create vaccine alternatives that provide “passive” immunity instead of “active” immunity. Active immunity occurs when the antigens from certain pathogens are introduced to a healthy immune system, which prompts the creation of targeted antibodies. Immunizations created using donated resistance cells can help treat pregnant women whose unborn child has an incompatible blood type, as well as those with compromised immune systems such as organ transplant or dialysis patients. Hyperimmune globulins are available for tetanus, rabies, hepatitis B and more, but these injections are often painful and carry the risk of anaphylaxis, so are only used when medically necessary.

When you donate plasma, you contribute to these vital treatments.

The Active Compounds in Plasma

 

The Plasma Donation Process

The process of separating plasma from other blood components including red blood cells and white blood cells is known as plasmapheresis. Here’s what to expect if you’re a first-time donor.

  1. Check-in: Upon arrival at the plasma donation center, you’ll be greeted and asked for proof of ID, current address, and citizenship. You’ll answer questions about your medical history to determine your eligibility to donate (this information is confidential).
  2. Screening process: A medical examination follows, which may include taking your temperature, your pulse, and checking your blood pressure.
  3. Donation: If you’re deemed to be in good health, a phlebotomist will escort you to a donation chair and hook you up to a plasmapheresis machine. Your blood is drawn from one arm, processed to extract the relevant plasma material, and returned via the other arm with the addition of saline to replace the blood volume extracted.
  4. Duration: The process of filtering your blood takes about an hour and a half. Bring a novel, a book of Sudoku puzzles or Crosswords, or an electronic device and a portable charger to while away the time pleasantly.
  5. Reward: Once your donation is complete, you’ll be compensated for your time and generosity with a prepaid debit card. Because it often takes at least 2 donations to collect enough useful material, many plasma donation centers pay larger sums if you visit them regularly. Each visit requires less screening time, provides the center with more usable material, and rewards you with more money and bonuses.

The Plasma Donation Process

Is Donating Plasma Safe? Possible Risks and Wellness Tips

Donating plasma is often a win-win situation: you’re providing life-saving antibodies and proteins, plus you’re making a little extra money to spend as you see fit. However, donating blood plasma does come with certain potential side effects. Be aware of the following risks, and follow these tips to safeguard your health.

Protein Replacement with Amino Acids

Like all protein synthesized in the body, plasma proteins are created from amino acids. When you donate those proteins via your plasma, your body immediately gets to work replacing them. Without a sufficient amount of the nine essential amino acids, your body may start harvesting healthy muscle cells to replace what was donated, a process known as catabolism.

Tip: Before donating, take a comprehensive amino acid supplement to make sure you’ve got the supplies to recreate your plasma proteins quickly. This is especially important if you plan on donating multiple times throughout the week or month, as your body will have to continuously replace these proteins. It’s also recommended that you eat a healthy meal within two hours before donating, one that includes either plant or animal protein for extra dietary amino acid support.

Fatigue, Dehydration, and Dizziness

Mild fatigue, dehydration, lightheadedness, and sometimes fainting are common side effects experienced by both plasma and blood donors. When the body is low on water, salts, and other blood-borne nutrients found in plasma, you may experience a noticeable lack of energy throughout the rest of the day accompanied by unpleasant dizziness and feelings of thirst.

Tip: Bring along a sports drink with salts and electrolytes to help replenish your body, drink plenty of water, and avoid strenuous activity or exercise for at least 24 hours. Basically, if you’re going to hit the gym, do so in the morning before you donate, and be sure to stay hydrated throughout.

Bruising and Pain

Bruising and tenderness at the injection sites is another common side effect of plasma donation. Bruising is caused by blood pooling in the soft tissues outside of your veins and arteries, so along with the discomfort associated with being stuck by a needle, if a small amount of blood leaks out during the procedure, you may bruise. This is normal, and no real cause for concern unless you have a bleeding disorder.

Tip: While bruising and pain heal on their own, you can help by keeping the bandages applied by the phlebotomist on for at least 6 hours and avoiding heavy lifting for a few days so as not to aggravate the injury.

Infection

Plasma donation centers are highly controlled sterile medical environments, but any time a needle punctures your skin there is some risk of infection. To minimize the risk that bacteria on the skin’s surface could enter the body, practitioners swab and sanitize the area first, open a clean needle, and wear gloves, but preventing infection is never a 100% guarantee.

Tip: When it comes to avoiding possible infection at the puncture site, it’s recommended that you only donate when you’re perfectly healthy, as any common cold or flu compromises your immune system and makes you more susceptible to other opportunistic infections. You may also supplement with natural immunity aids and antioxidants like vitamin C for an extra boost.

Another way to protect yourself is to know the signs of infection: if the injection site becomes swollen, reddens, or begins to feel warm and tender, it may be an immune response to bacteria, and it’s recommended you see a doctor right away to prevent any complications (you may be prescribed antibiotics). Infections from plasma donation are rare, but while they’re possible it’s important that you know how to deal with them safely.

Arterial Puncture

Another possible side effect of any needle injection or insertion is an arterial puncture. Arteries have a higher blood pressure than veins do, so should the technician miss your vein and puncture an artery instead, it could lead to excessive bleeding.

Tip: Alert your technician if something feels amiss with your puncture so they can quickly remove the needle and apply sustained pressure to the area (at least 10 minutes). Usually, this allows your blood to clot and the injury to begin to heal, but in the rare circumstances in which there is continued bleeding, the technicians at the plasma center will get you emergency care right away.

Citrate Reaction

Citrate reaction is an extremely rare but incredibly serious potential side effect of donating plasma. Citrate is an anticoagulant used during the plasmapheresis process to keep your blood from clotting before it can be safely returned to your body. Most of the citrate remains in the machine, but some of it inevitably enters your bloodstream.

Citrate temporarily bonds with your calcium molecules, and while most people do not experience any noticeable reaction to citrate, that loss of calcium can bring about the following side effects of citrate reaction in others.

  • A metallic taste
  • Shivering or chills
  • Tingling in the fingers, lips, and toes
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abnormal pulse (too fast or too slow)
  • Muscle twitches or feelings of vibrations in the body

If left untreated these side effects could lead to spasms, vomiting, a state of shock, or cardiac arrest.

Tip: If you experience any of these irregular symptoms, seek professional medical care immediately.

Is Donating Plasma Safe? Possible Risks and Wellness Tips

The Gift of Life

Plasma donation is highly rewarding in more ways than one: it can help you out financially and literally save the life of a stranger. However, it’s important to preserve your health as you’re sharing it, so while the FDA guidelines say you can donate multiple times per month, the American Red Cross recommends donating plasma no more than 13 times per year for optimum health. Keep track of how often you donate and be sure to listen to your body so you don’t endanger your own good health while you give the gift of life.

Slow-Twitch vs. Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers and How to Target Them (Top 12 Training Tips)

What is the difference between slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers, and what are the unique training techniques for each? Which sports combine both? Learn the nuances between different types of skeletal muscle fibers, and how to target all of them via our top 12 training tips.

Your skeletal muscles are made of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. The other muscle fiber types are involuntary, such as your cardiac muscle fibers and the smooth muscles that exist throughout your digestive tract and circulatory system. The marvel of slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers are that you can influence and improve them, and this article tells you how.

The Difference Between Fast-Twitch and Slow-Twitch Fibers

Let’s quickly break down the difference between the types of skeletal muscle fibers. Hint: it has everything to do with types of muscle contractions.

  • Slow-twitch (type I): Type I muscle fibers are known as “red” muscles due to their blood supply—slow-twitch muscle fibers contain capillaries full of myoglobin, the oxygen-carrying heme protein. This oxygen supply makes slow-twitch muscles essential for triathlon trainers, marathoners, and other athletes who engage in Olympic levels of endurance training.
  • Fast-twitch (type II): Type II muscle fibers are those which contract in short, powerful bursts and are useful for weight-training endeavors. There are three subcategories of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
    • Type IIa fibers: These quick-firing fibers are indispensable in activities like sprinting and weight lifting.
    • Type IIx fibers: More powerful and less energy-efficient than type IIa fibers, type IIx fibers are the ones that don’t need training—they kick in for short emergency uses, such as during a fight-or-flight reaction.
    • Type IIb fibers: Known as “white” muscle, these fibers have the lowest amount of myoglobin, and so function anaerobically, without oxygen.

Slow-twitch fibers are fatigue-resistant, long-haul muscles that are aerobic (oxygen-reliant).

Fast-twitch fibers reach exhaustion more quickly but are also the muscles that could hulk you out of a dangerous situation.

The ratio between slow-twitch red fibers and fast-twitch white fibers in your body varies depending on your age and fitness level. If you want to increase the size and strength of one or both of these muscle types, read on for training tips.

The Difference Between Fast-Twitch and Slow-Twitch Fibers

How to Train Fast-Twitch vs. Slow-Twitch Muscle Fibers: Top 12 Tips

Here are the activities that directly help target specific muscle types, and a dozen tips for how to max out your training and fitness potential.

Slow-Twitch Training

These endurance muscles are best targeted with marathon training and activities like long-distance running. Here are our best tips for all you endurance athletes out there.

1. Start Slow

Distance runners aren’t out there pacing the globe on day one.  Endurance training involves a slow and steady buildup of capacity throughout the cardiovascular system just to supply your slow-twitch muscles with efficient oxygen turnover. Set your goals in terms of weeks and months, and care for your body as it changes.

2. Warm-up

The best way to make sure your goals aren’t thwarted by cramps or injury is to warm up properly. While many endurance athletes begin with light jogging or biking, it’s important to include bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, and lunges to get all of your muscles limber and engaged.

3. Suit Up

Appropriate footwear during endurance activities and sports can help prevent even more injuries, those like muscle sprains, tears, and ligament and tendon damage. The right shoe helps stabilize your gait and reduces the impact felt by your joints all the way up.

4. Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration helps reduce the risk of muscle cramps, muscle fatigue, and feelings of faintness. We’re talking about 16 to 24 ounces of water before your workout, and electrolyte replenishment afterward.

5. Include Strength and Resistance Training

There is more information on strength training in the fast-twitch section, but even for endurance athletes who aren’t trying to bulk up, it’s important to pepper in at least three strength-training workouts each week so you don’t end up with a muscle imbalance in the body.

6. Supply Your Muscles

Eating more protein is important, as the amino acid content of protein foods is essential for building and maintaining new muscle. Shoot for about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. We also recommend taking a fully balanced amino acid supplement developed specifically to meet the amino acid and nutrient needs of professional athletes.

Fast-Twitch Training

Running isn’t solely a slow-twitch activity. Sprinters fall into the fast-twitch training arena. That being said, the development of the fast-twitch type of muscle fiber is more often associated with bodybuilding, because fast-twitch muscle can expand and provide the sort of visible muscles you can take to a competition. Here are tips for fast-twitch lifting and training activities.

7. Amino Acids

While the essential amino acids are important for anyone working on their muscles, they’re especially vital for bodybuilders. The demands that weightlifting puts on new muscle creation needs to be met with a complete supply of EAAs, otherwise, the body will turn to catabolism (a form of molecular cannibalism) to take what it needs from the muscles you’ve already got.

8. Lift Heavy

The heavier you can lift, the more efficiently you’re engaging your fast-twitch muscle fibers. The goal is to lift as much as you can as fast as safely possible.

9. Train Eccentrically

There are concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. In a concentric contraction, the muscle tension remains stable against the resistance (push-ups, barbell curls, squats). In an eccentric contraction, the resistance becomes greater than the force of the muscle (the downward motion of a push-up, depth jumps, and the downward motion of a squat). We can handle more weight eccentrically, so to accelerate the growth of fast-twitch fibers, emphasize eccentric contractions in your workout.

10. Dress Your Joints

When it comes to heavy lifting, it’s important to protect your joints as your muscles explode. Consider using a weight belt for the lumbar portion of the spine, neoprene knee sleeves to protect those ligaments like the ACL and MCL, and stable footwear.

11. Plyometric Training

Plyos, otherwise known as jump training, are exercises that throw maximum force into extremely short time intervals. This kind of training requires healthy joints and (if you have access) professional training to ensure you have the right form to avoid injury.

12. Train Fast

Compensatory acceleration training involves working to move the weight as fast as possible throughout a lift. It’s a basic component of physics class: the equation “force = mass x acceleration.” The more acceleration you have, the more force you can fit into your movements.

How to Train Fast-Twitch vs. Slow-Twitch Muscle Fibers: Top 12 Tips

Mixed-Muscle Training

Your skeletal muscles all work together to get your body moving, and while some exercise activities can specifically target one or the other, there are a few sports and training practices that target both types, including the following.

  • Rock climbing: While training for rock climbing focuses on fast-twitch muscles to allow climbers to lift their entire body weight over uneven terrain (sometimes using the strength of just one limb), no one can pretend that climbing a mountain isn’t a feat of endurance.
  • Soccer: The near-constant movement and jogging in soccer combined with the fast-twitch force of moving the ball make it a sport that requires comprehensive muscle training.
  • Gymnastics: While this is a large umbrella and many gymnastic routines favor aerobic slow-twitch over anaerobic fast-twitch needs, gymnastics is such a mixed-bag area of sporting that those who participate in multiple gymnastic events also require training for both kinds of skeletal muscle fibers.

The Types of Muscle Fibers You Can Control

You can personally control and influence skeletal muscles, unlike the involuntary muscles of the intestines, the heart, and even the tiny muscles that make each of your hairs stand on end when there’s a chill. The ability to influence your fast- and slow-twitch muscles is both a privilege and a responsibility, so when you go to train up these different muscle types, do so as safely and with as much support as possible with the proper gear, professional techniques, and amino acid supplements.

Exercise for Fatty Liver: Can Moving More Help Treat (and Prevent) This Chronic Liver Disease?

One method that’s gaining more attention for its potential role in the treatment and prevention of fatty liver is exercise. But is it really possible that something as simple as physical activity can actually treat and even reverse this chronic and sometimes deadly health condition?

If you’ve been diagnosed with fatty liver disease, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that at least a quarter of the world’s population is affected by the unhealthy buildup of liver fat. And as the number of people with elevated blood sugar, body weight, and cholesterol levels continues to rise, the incidence of fatty liver disease is only expected to grow.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way, as fatty liver disease is both avoidable and reversible.

One method that’s gaining more attention for its potential role in the treatment and prevention of fatty liver is exercise. But is it really possible that something as simple as physical activity can actually treat and even reverse this chronic and sometimes deadly health condition? In this article, we’re going to review the evidence and uncover everything you need to know about the potentially remarkable beneficial effect of exercise for fatty liver.

Fatty Liver Disease: Causes, Types, and Risk Factors

The liver is the body’s largest internal organ and is responsible for processing every single thing that enters the body, from foods and liquids to medications and environmental pollutants.

It’s also the toughest organ in the body and can regenerate itself even if 75% of it is diseased.

However, certain genetic abnormalities, diseases, toxic exposures, and lifestyle choices can compromise the liver’s ability to function normally. And one of the main culprits in altered liver function is excess liver fat.

One of the liver’s main duties is taking the nutrients we eat and drink and breaking them down into their constituent parts. This includes proteins and carbohydrates, some of which are converted into triglycerides.

These special types of fats are then further broken down into glycerol and fatty acids so they can be used by the body as energy or stored as fat in the adipose tissue. Any leftover triglycerides are stored in the liver.

Under normal circumstances, the liver keeps only a tiny amount of triglycerides on hand. But factors such as poor diet, excess body fat, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, and too much alcohol can decrease the liver’s ability to metabolize excess triglycerides. And this can cause the buildup of liver fat.

Once fat comprises at least 5% to 10% of total liver volume, a diagnosis of fatty liver disease, or hepatic steatosis, can be made.

Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

The most common form of fatty liver disease is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is associated with conditions including obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.

The second major type of fatty liver disease is associated with long-term heavy alcohol use and is known as—you guessed it—alcoholic fatty liver disease.

While a person can live with fatty liver disease his or her entire life and never know anything is wrong, with continued poor diet, alcohol abuse, etc., excess liver fat can eventually cause significant liver damage.

In the case of liver damage associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the condition is known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)—a disease characterized by liver cell damage and inflammation.

However, when it comes to fatty liver disease, alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease share two things in common:

  • Both can lead to serious complications, including cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
  • Both can be treated and even reversed with simple lifestyle modifications.

Risk Factors for Fatty Liver Disease

Unfortunately, anyone who follows the standard Western lifestyle is at risk of fatty liver disease.

What’s the standard Western lifestyle?

Basically, it boils down to two things:

  • Lack of regular exercise
  • A diet that emphasizes red meat, processed food, saturated fat, and sugar and limits the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?

Identifying Symptoms and Diagnosing Fatty Liver Disease

As mentioned, fatty liver disease doesn’t necessarily progress to overt liver damage. And chances are, if you do notice symptoms, the damage has already begun. However, symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dark-colored urine

If you have any of these symptoms, your health care provider will likely first perform liver function tests to measure levels of liver enzymes. If enzymes are elevated, they may then perform imaging studies—including ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—to look for signs of liver abnormalities.

Finally, if all of these tests are positive, a liver biopsy may be performed to determine the exact diagnosis.

However, it’s important to remember that the remarkable ability of the liver to carry on without complaint even when most of it is riddled with disease means that it’s entirely possible to be in full-blown cirrhosis before you ever know anything is wrong.

And you don’t want to get to that point.

That’s why it’s so important to implement lifestyle changes now. Because watching your weight, eating a healthy diet, and controlling alcohol intake can make a significant difference in overall liver health.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, studies have found that exercise intervention may be as important for preventing and treating fatty liver disease as it is for improving overall health and well-being.

Exercise for Fatty Liver

The main factor underlying the importance of physical activity in the treatment and prevention of fatty liver is related to the same process that makes exercise an integral part of any sensible weight-loss plan—namely, fat burning.

In fact, getting up and moving on a regular basis has been shown to lower levels of triglycerides and raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—the so-called good cholesterol. And this can help lower fat stores in the liver.

What’s also interesting is that recent studies have discovered that exercise intensity and type are less important than simply including regular physical activity as part of any lifestyle intervention.

For example, a study published in the journal Hepatology found that sedentary adults with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who underwent just 8 weeks of resistance training experienced a 13% improvement in both insulin sensitivity and lipid oxidation.

But perhaps the most remarkable finding was that these improvements in fatty liver biomarkers were seen despite the fact that none of the participants saw any changes in actual body weight.

In addition, a study published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease found that obese mice with fatty liver disease experienced improvements in both glucose tolerance and liver fat levels regardless of whether they were treated with exercise or diet or a combination of the two.

A small study published in the journal Diabetologia found that diabetic patients with fatty liver and cardiovascular disease who underwent 12 weeks of high-intensity training (HIT) not only had positive changes in cardiac structure and function but also experienced significant reductions in hemoglobin A1c as well as an astounding 39% decrease in liver fat.

By contrast, another small study published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice found that patients with type 2 diabetes and NAFLD who were given aerobic and resistance training twice a week for 1 year experienced significant decreases in liver and abdominal fat regardless of exercise intensity.

Finally, a systematic review published in the journal Gene Expression made note of several clinical trials that have shown the benefits of both resistance exercise and aerobic exercise training on liver fat content.

Moreover, the authors of the review concluded that physical activity is an effective method of treating fatty liver disease due to its ability to decrease insulin resistance, prevent oxidative stress, and reduce levels of glucose and fatty acids in the liver.

While these study results are great news for anyone suffering from fatty liver disease, it may be possible to increase your results even more by simply adding additional amino acids to your diet.

Amino Acids for Fatty Liver

Known as the building blocks of life, amino acids are required for the creation of proteins and are involved in almost every process that goes on in the body. Without a steady supply of these building blocks, overall health and well-being suffer.

Based on this fact, it should come as no surprise then that amino acids play a significant role in liver health. What’s more, they’re essential for building muscle mass and strength and can make your workouts even more effective.

And although the body requires a balanced supply of all nine essential amino acids, studies have found that several amino acids have specific benefits for liver health.

A study published in the journal Amino Acids found that the amino acid taurine helps to suppress both oxidative stress and the accumulation liver fatty acids in mice given high-fat diets.

Another study published in Nutrition Research demonstrated that supplementation with leucine, isoleucine, and valine—the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—reduces liver cell death and scar tissue, thus delaying the progression of chronic liver disease.

You may be at least vaguely familiar with the supplemental form of the amino acid cysteine, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), due to its ability to prevent liver damage associated with acetaminophen overdose. The reason NAC is the treatment of choice for acetaminophen overdose is because it has the ability to replenish the liver’s store of glutathione.

What is glutathione, you ask?

Glutathione is known as the body’s master antioxidant, and it’s especially good at decreasing oxidative stress, which in turn protects the liver from cellular damage. This effect can also be helpful in the treatment of fatty liver disease.

For example, a study published in the journal Hepatitis Monthly found that patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who received supplemental N-acetylcysteine for 3 months experienced significant decreases in both spleen size—a symptom of chronic liver disease—and levels of liver enzymes.

Finally, several studies have found that a compound known as S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)—which is a combination of the amino acid methionine and the energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—has the ability to protect liver health by reducing both liver fat and scar tissue formation.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)—which is composed of the amino acid methionine bound to a molecule of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—helps protect liver cells and prevent progression of fatty liver disease.

When it comes to treating and preventing fatty liver disease, it’s good to know that simple lifestyle changes, including healthy diet, regular exercise, and decreased alcohol intake, are all that’s needed to reverse unhealthy levels of liver fat. However, if you’re having difficulty reaching your goals, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a qualified health care professional.

Dos and Don'ts for Preventing and Treating Fatty Liver Disease

Vitamin E for Fatty Liver Disease: Can It Really Help?

As modern ills such as elevated cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes continue to climb, so, too, do rates of fatty liver. Researchers are constantly searching for new ways to stem the ballooning tide of cases. And one method that’s recently received a lot of attention is vitamin E therapy. But does it really work?

Fatty liver disease is one of the most pervasive health problems in the world. It’s also the most common chronic liver disease in the United States, where it’s estimated to affect as many as a quarter to a third of the population. And as modern ills such as elevated cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes continue to climb, so, too, do rates of fatty liver. With numbers this dire, researchers are constantly searching for new ways to stem the ballooning tide of cases. And one method that’s recently received a lot of attention is vitamin E therapy. But does it really work? In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at vitamin E for fatty liver, sift through the evidence, and uncover everything you need to know about this possible new treatment for fatty liver disease.

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?

Everything that goes into our bodies, whether it’s eaten, inhaled, drunk, or touched, is processed by the liver. In the case of food, one of the liver’s functions is to convert some of the protein and carbohydrates we eat into triglycerides.

Triglycerides are then broken down into free fatty acids and glycerol to be used as energy or moved to the adipose tissue for conversion into fat. Any triglycerides that are left over are then stored in the liver.

Under normal circumstances, the liver holds on to only a marginal amount of triglycerides. However, many of the health problems we associate with modern life, such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and even excessive alcohol use, can damage the liver’s ability to metabolize fat. When this happens, fat begins to accumulate in the liver.

Although the liver is a remarkably resilient organ, if liver function is compromised to the point where more than 5% to 10% of its total volume is taken over by fat buildup, hepatic steatosis, or fatty liver, is the result.

More Than One Type of Fatty Liver

When it comes to fatty liver, there are several different types, but by far the most common is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. Affecting at least a quarter of the American population, NAFLD is the most common type of chronic liver disease.

While an individual may live with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease their entire lives and never experience any signs of liver damage, the condition can sometimes progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, which is characterized by the presence of both inflammation and damage to liver cells. If lifestyle interventions aren’t instituted, NASH can eventually lead to serious complications, including liver cancer.

Less common than nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is alcoholic fatty liver disease. As the name suggests, this type of liver disease is the result of years of extensive alcohol abuse. Like NAFLD, alcoholic fatty liver disease can be stopped, and even reversed, by making simple lifestyle modifications—namely, stopping alcohol use.

Amazingly, giving up alcohol for even 2 weeks may be enough to boost liver function. However, like NAFLD, failure to address a fatty liver caused by alcohol use can lead to disease progression and eventual cirrhosis and liver failure.

Are You at Risk of Fatty Liver Disease?

If you eat the typical Western diet or are a heavy alcohol user, then, yes, you’re definitely at risk of fatty liver disease.

And if you’re overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle, you, too, are at risk.

However, without liver testing to look for elevated levels of liver enzymes—including alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST), which are sometimes called alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase, respectively—you may never know.

And even with testing, your liver enzyme levels will likely remain in the normal range until inflammation has progressed to the point where your liver begins releasing these enzymes in response.

And because your liver is, again, so resilient, this may not happen even after cirrhosis has begun to set in.

But you don’t want to wait until then to find out the worst.

So, in lieu of a liver biopsy to confirm a diagnosis—or obvious symptoms of fatty liver disease, including weight loss, itching, enlarged blood vessels, abdominal pain, and jaundice—the best thing to do, especially if you have known risk factors, is to change your lifestyle such that you’re supporting your liver instead of working against it.

9 Risk Factors for Fatty Liver Disease

Treating Fatty Liver Disease with Diet

The foundation upon which successful treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease—and alcoholic liver disease—is based is a healthy diet.

After all, it’s a Western diet high in simple sugars, salt, saturated fat, red meat, and processed foods and low in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats that set us up for fatty liver in the first place.

Not only is the standard Western diet almost completely devoid of actual nutrition, it’s also a breeding ground of pro-oxidant molecules called free radicals. Like everything else in nature, these unstable atoms with unpaired electrons seek equilibrium. But to find it, they must roam around the body, stealing electrons from other atoms. However, in so doing, they only succeed in creating more free radicals.

Over time, this can lead to a state of oxidative stress, in which cells are damaged and tissues and organs begin to fail. In fact, a number of diseases, from heart disease and diabetes to cataracts and cancer, are linked to oxidative stress.

Thankfully, the body has a natural ability to produce its own antioxidants. However, unlike diets that emphasize fruits and vegetables—which are rich sources of antioxidants, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a host of beneficial phytochemicals—nutrient-poor Western diets do nothing but add to the body’s free radical burden.

And that brings us to one antioxidant in particular, and the main topic of this article.

Vitamin E for Fatty Liver Disease

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that’s gained notoriety in recent years for its potential efficacy in the treatment of NAFLD and NASH.

In fact, numerous studies have found a possible link between vitamin E supplementation and improvement in liver function.

One of the most well known is a clinical trial known as the PIVENS study. Performed by researchers including Arun Sanyal and Anna Diehl and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010, this randomized controlled trial evaluated the effects of treatment with the anti-diabetic medication pioglitazone, vitamin E, or placebo in NASH patients with aggressive disease progression who had not been diagnosed with diabetes.

Interestingly, although both pioglitazone (30 milligrams a day) and vitamin E (800 International Units a day, in the form of d-alpha tocopherol) were superior to placebo in improving symptoms of NASH—including liver enzyme levels, signs of inflammation, and hepatic steatosis—the improvements seen with pioglitazone were not considered statistically significant.

However, vitamin E treatment was. In fact, it led to significant improvements, outperforming pioglitazone by a wide margin.

A 2014 meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrition not only backed up these findings but also found that the use of vitamin E was effective in lowering liver enzyme levels in patients diagnosed with both nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and chronic hepatitis C.

And a more recent 2018 review published in the journal Diseases determined that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin E, combined with its ability to inhibit cell death—as well as its favorable clinical profile—make it an effective choice for the treatment of non-diabetic NASH patients who have failed treatment with lifestyle modifications.

As you can see, the potential effect of vitamin E on fatty liver disease shows definite promise. But nature’s got one more thing up her sleeve in the fight against this rising epidemic.

Amino Acids for Fatty Liver Disease

While you may know them as simply the building blocks of protein, amino acids play an important role in the proper functioning of nearly every single biological process in the human body—including liver function.

In fact, multiple studies have found that amino acids may offer significant benefits for individuals suffering from fatty liver disease.

A 2012 rodent study published in the journal Nutrition Research  demonstrated the ability of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine to reduce liver cell death, formation of scar tissue, and progression of chronic liver disease.

Similarly, a 2018 study published in the journal Amino Acids found that taurine is effective at reducing both oxidative stress and fatty acid accumulation in mice fed high-fat diets.

The supplemental form of the amino acid cysteine, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), is especially well known for its liver benefits. In fact, NAC is regularly used in hospitals in the treatment of acetaminophen overdose.

What makes it so effective?

It turns out that N-acetylcysteine is particularly good at replenishing glutathione—the body’s master antioxidant. More glutathione means less oxidative stress, which in turn means less cellular damage.

The compound S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), which is made up of the amino acid methionine and a molecule of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the body’s main energy carrier—is also known to protect the liver by reducing the accumulation of fat and the associated rise in liver enzyme levels and scar tissue formation.

Preventing and Treating Fatty Liver Disease

Preventing Chronic Liver Disease

From heart disease and diabetes to strokes and colon cancer, more and more diseases have become pervasive in the more affluent countries of the West. And the one thing they all have in common is that they’re almost entirely preventable.

Fatty liver disease is no different.

With simple lifestyle interventions, including healthy diet, exercise, decreased alcohol use, vitamin E, and amino acids, fatty liver disease can be prevented or reversed long before it turns into chronic liver disease.

So if you have any known risk factors and need help planning your next move, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a qualified health care professional. After all, you only have one liver…treat it well.

StrongLifts for Older Adults: Is This Popular Weight Training Program Right for You?

With thousands of users, StrongLifts 5×5 is one of the most popular strength training programs on the market today. But what if you’re no longer in your 20s—or 30s? And is StrongLifts for older adults safe? In this article, we’re going to answers these questions and more so you can make the best choice for your fitness goals.

With thousands of users, StrongLifts 5×5 is one of the most popular strength training programs on the market today. With simple progressive free-weight exercises and a commitment of just 3 days a week, the StrongLifts program promises to build muscle and burn fat quickly and efficiently. But what if you’re no longer in your 20s—or 30s? Will it work for you too? And, perhaps more importantly, is StrongLifts for older adults safe? In this article, we’re going to answers these questions and more so you can make the best choice for your fitness goals.

StrongLifts 5×5: The Basics

The StrongLifts program is based on the work of Bill Starr, who developed the first 5×5 program in the 1970s and whose work has since been modified and further popularized by Mark Rippetoe as well as a mysterious individual known only as Madcow.

The StrongLifts 5×5 version of Bill Starr’s original work is made up of two different workouts—workout A and workout B—each of which contains three 45-minute exercises performed three times a week on alternating days, with rest days in between.

Why is it called StrongLifts 5×5?

In addition to the fact that the program contains just five different exercises—squats, bench press, barbell row, overhead press, and deadlift—four of the five exercises are repeated five times for five repetitions.

The exception to this rule is the deadlift exercise, which is performed once for five repetitions. Why? According to the creator of StrongLifts 5×5, Mehdi, deadlifting is extremely hard on the body, so more than one rep would only slow your strength gains—a view not necessarily shared by every lifter.

The Five Exercises of StrongLifts 5x5

The key to the program’s effectiveness is said to be the fact that each of its five exercises involves compound lifts, which work multiple muscle groups in the lower and upper body simultaneously.

Another factor that sets StrongLifts 5×5 apart from other types of weightlifting programs is that it begins with light weights, in the form of an empty bar, and builds on the amount of weight added to the barbell by 5 pounds with the successful completion of each exercise.

However, “successful completion of each exercise” is the operative phrase here.

Any time you’re unable to complete the recommended sets and repetitions with a particular weight, you stay at that weight until you’re successful. And if you fail to complete your workout after three consecutive attempts, you deload, or go back to however much weight you were last successful with and try the higher weight at a later workout.

Based on its combination of exercises as well as its focus on getting as strong as possible as quickly as possible—and looking more defined in the process—you might say that StrongLifts 5×5 combines the appearance goals of bodybuilding with the strength goals of powerlifting.

StrongLifts 5×5: The Exercises

As mentioned, the StrongLifts program is built around five core exercises:

  1. Squats
  2. Bench press
  3. Barbell row
  4. Overhead press
  5. Deadlift

Let’s now take a closer look at each of these and the role they play in the StrongLifts program.

1. Squats

Squats are a fitness powerhouse. In fact, many experts say if you can do only one exercise, make it squats. Why? Because this deceptively simple resistance exercise works every muscle in your lower body, strengthening your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves and even helping your hip, knee, and ankle joints become stronger and more resilient. And this can help you stay healthy and active all the years of your life.

With all these benefits, it’s no wonder squats are basically the foundation upon which StrongLifts 5×5 is built.

As with any exercise, the key to getting the most out of squats is ensuring they’re done using proper form.

A basic squat is performed by placing feet shoulder width apart, holding your arms in front of you for balance, placing the majority of your weight on your heels, sitting back (like you’re sitting in a chair), and then returning to a standing position, squeezing your glutes as you rise up.

With StrongLifts 5×5, however, squats are performed using dumbbells (with the aid of a power rack for heavier weights). According to stronglifts.com, the proper technique for performing this version of the squat is the following:

  1. Stand with the dumbbell bar on the upper back and feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Perform the squat by pushing the knees to the side and moving hips back.
  3. Squat until the hips are lower than the knees.
  4. Pull up, keeping the knees out and the chest up.
  5. Lock the hips and knees on standing.

2. Bench Press

One of the oldest of modern exercises, the bench press is a mainstay of every bodybuilder and powerlifter’s workout routine. However, to be effective—and safe—it must be carried out using proper form:

  1. Using a home or gym bench press (not a Smith machine), lie down with your eyes directly under the bar.
  2. Grip the bar firmly between fingers and thumbs a little more than shoulder width apart.
  3. Straighten the arms to unrack the bar and lower to midchest.
  4. Return the bar to its starting position by straightening the arms.

3. Barbell Row

Like the other exercises in StrongLifts 5×5, barbell rows work the entire body, especially the upper and lower back, arms, and hips. To perform this exercise correctly, stronglifts.com recommends the following guidelines:

  1. While standing, place the midfoot under the bar.
  2. Bending over, grip the bar firmly between fingers and thumbs, palms down, a little more than shoulder width apart.
  3. With knees unlocked and hips high, straighten the back and lift the chest.
  4. Pull up the bar, raising it to your lower chest, and then lower back to the floor.

4. Overhead Press

The overhead press is another compound lift that’s great at strengthening your legs, back, shoulders, and core. However, because the maneuver relies mainly on the small muscles of the body, it’s also difficult to do and will showcase any weaknesses more readily than the other exercises included in StrongLifts 5×5.

In addition, using improper technique can irritate the shoulders, so it’s a good idea to be clear about proper form before beginning the overhead press:

  1. While standing, grip the bar firmly between fingers and thumbs, palms up, and bring the bar to the front of the shoulders.
  2. Press the bar toward the ceiling until it’s over your head and in line with the shoulders and midfoot.
  3. Once fully raised, lock the elbows and “shrug” the shoulders toward the ceiling.
  4. Lower the bar to the starting position.

5. Deadlift

Like squats, deadlifts are considered an important exercise for anyone wishing to build total-body strength that lasts a lifetime. And because deadlifts work many muscle groups that are often ignored by other exercises, they can even help prevent low back pain and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears—a common injury that often requires surgery.

To perform deadlifting properly, stronglifts.com recommends the following technique:

  1. While standing, place your feet under the barbell at midfoot.
  2. Bend over and grip the bar between fingers and thumbs, palms down, a little more than shoulder width apart.
  3. Bend the knees until the shins make contact with the bar.
  4. After taking and holding a deep breath, lift the barbell to an erect position by straightening the lower back and lifting the chest (the bar should slide up your shins).
  5. Lower the barbell to the starting position.

StrongLifts for Older Adults: 4 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Workout 

StrongLifts for Older Adults: Is It Something You Should Try?

Like other strength training programs, StrongLifts 5×5 can hurt you if you don’t approach it the right way. This is especially true if you’re an older adult.

After all, while staying fit becomes even more vital as we age, expecting our bodies to train the same way they once did can be a recipe for disaster.

However, because StrongLifts 5×5 is built with beginners in mind, it can be an excellent way for older adults to increase their muscle strength. Still, to get the most gains out of this program, it’s important to follow the guidelines below.

1. Start at the Beginning

Because StrongLifts 5×5 starts you off with an empty bar, it’s almost impossible to go wrong here. However, many people think lifting an empty bar is pretty silly and decide to skip it and jump right into the free weights.

But when you think about it, it’s actually a great safety precaution because it allows you to get your form right before you start piling on extra weight.

So even if you think your starting strength is way above an empty bar, don’t skip this part. It could mean the difference between meeting your strength goals and being sidelined with an unnecessary injury.

2. Don’t Forget to Warm Up

Because the StrongLifts program doesn’t come with a built-in warm-up period, it’s easy to forget to include this in your training program.

But warm muscles are more flexible and less prone to injury, so be sure to incorporate 5 or 10 minutes of light cardio and stretching before you begin weight training.

3. Don’t Overdo It

Built in to the StrongLifts program is a rapid compounding of the weight used in each workout. Although the amount of weight added is relatively small, and you’re asked not to progress to the next level until you’re able to successfully complete a workout with the current weight, just because you can complete a workout doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to progress.

So if you struggle with a particular weight or have trouble maintaining proper form, listen to your body and stick with the current weight or deload and rest or work with a lighter weight until you’re completely comfortable performing the exercise.

The same goes for the 3-day-a-week regimen.

As we age, the body needs more rest than it did when it was younger, so if your workouts leave you feeling exhausted, give yourself more time to recover. You may progress more slowly with the program than a younger individual does, but you’ll be progressing in a manner that respects your body and keeps you safe.

4. Supplement with Amino Acids

Amino acids are popular among exercise enthusiasts of all types because they boost endurance, reduce recovery time, and build muscle. However, many older adults don’t realize that these building blocks of protein also play an extremely important role in helping us hold on to muscle as we age.

You see, as we age, the body’s ability to build new muscle protein naturally declines. However, by adding additional essential amino acids to our diet, we can combat this anabolic resistance, build muscle, and increase lean body mass.

What’s more, just like a 20-something exercise aficionado, amino acids can help older adults increase endurance and speed recovery time.

In conclusion, StrongLifts 5×5 is a strength training program that’s perfectly suited to beginning lifters. And with exercises that can be tailored to suit the needs of just about anyone, it’s also a great choice for older adults who are new to weight training.

However, as with any strength training program, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional trainer for additional help with your technique. And, as always, don’t hesitate to speak with a qualified health care provider if you have any health concerns that may interfere with your ability to safely participate in this or any other exercise program.

How to Safely Use a Foam Roller: Lower Back and Full-Body Stretches to Relieve Pain

Can you safely foam roller lower back pain away? Find out what a foam roller is, what types and varieties there are, plus how you can use it for workout support and full-body pain relief from the soles of your feet to the nape of your neck.

Visit any gym and someone will be on the mat with a foam roller in an attempt to work out all the kinks and pains. What is this device and how exactly does it help the body? Learn what a foam roller is, how it works to relieve tight muscles, and how easy it is to use in the privacy of your own home. Read on to find out how to foam roller lower back pain away, stretch out your upper back, unkink your calf muscles, expand your hip flexors, and more.

What Is a Foam Roller?

If you’ve never tried foam rolling as part of your stretching and workout routine, you’ve been missing out on an excellent pain reliever and massage tool.

The foam roller is a cylinder of compressed foam, lightweight, sometimes smooth and sometimes bumpy depending on its intended use. By rolling this foam under your own body weight and strength, you can reduce muscle soreness, increase flexibility, and relieve pain and muscle tightness via self-myofascial release (which involves applying gentle pressure to myofascial connective tissue trigger points to help relieve referred pain in other areas of the body).

Foam rollers can be obtained in different density levels and firmness (higher density for seasoned workout veterans, lower density for those just starting out), as well as different sizes for different areas of the body. A larger foam roller is better for rolling back and chest muscles, while a smaller foam roller is ideal for rolling one’s feet to relieve a condition such as foot tendonitis or plantar fasciitis. Textured, bumpy foam rollers provide a deeper penetration to select muscle groups.

Causes of Lower Back Pain That Foam Rolling Exercises Can Help Fix

Back pain can be absolutely debilitating. Your torso is the core of your entire body, and pain afflicting your back and spine can decimate your range of motion and make it impossible for you to stand, sit, walk, or drive without pain.

Conditions such as a slipped or herniated disk should not be treated with a foam roller without the aid of a physical therapist or professional guidance, as there’s a chance that using a foam roller inappropriately can cause or exacerbate a slipped disk.

Foam rolling can help alleviate:

  • Muscle spasms: If the back muscles seize up, that muscle tension increases the risk of further injury, compromises your range of motion, and frustrates your ability to move and to rest.
  • Sciatica: If a bone spur, slipped disk, or injury interferes with the sciatic nerves that run from the lower back down through the left and right legs, the pain can radiate and quickly immobilize you.
  • Referred pain: Referred pain is discomfort felt in a location far from the cause of the pain. For example, a pinched nerve in your neck can easily cause a headache, and tight hamstrings can lead to low back pain.
  • Misalignment: If your spine is not perfectly straight, if your legs aren’t the same length, or if some injury causes you to walk with a limp, the resulting misalignment of the body can lead to pain in the upper body, mid-back, and lower body.

What Is a Foam Roller?

Foam Roller Lower Back Pain Away

It’s important to clarify this first: don’t foam roller your lower back directly. By this we mean under no circumstances should you apply the foam roller directly to your lumbar spine (which lacks rib cage support) and set the weight of your body there. Foam rolling can absolutely help relieve tight lower back pain via self-massage, but it needs to be applied to the muscles surrounding the back, and not mess with the spine at all.

Most people are very aware of how delicate the spine and lower back are (one mistake moving boxes can cause a life-long injury), so it’s important to take care as you use a foam roller for back pain. Check out these proper stretches to see how foam rolling indirectly helps the back without risking injury.

1. Feet, Ankles, and Calves

We’re starting from the bottom to help limber up your entire body around the delicate area of the lower back. Your tendons and ligaments are all interconnected, so if your plantar fascia is experiencing pain, it can radiate all the way up and pull your whole body out of balance.

Apply the foam roller to the arch of your foot, roll the back of your heel over it, apply it to the back, inside, and outside of your calves, and the outer portion of your ankle. To enhance the effect on this area, you can bend your left knee and bring it to rest on your right leg (and vice versa for the other leg) to increase the pressure.

We recommend you foam roller calves to reduce sore muscles after a workout, and encourage you to consider using the foam roller first thing in the morning to get your blood flow going and to work out nighttime stiffness for a more relaxed and productive day.

2. Hamstrings, Quads, Hips, and Glutes

Your hamstrings (back of the thighs between the knees and hips), quadriceps (front of the thigh muscles), glutes (buttocks), and hips are even closer to your lower back. Taking tension out of the connective tissue of your thighs helps relieve lower back pain and counteract the damage done by sitting at a desk all day.

To use the foam roller for hip pain, roll the thighs, the sides of your hips (the psoas muscles), and the glutes (including the piriformis, which is a small muscle deep beneath the gluteus maximus) under you own body weight to help improve hip mobility, flexibility, and stability. These muscles are incredibly dense with multiple layers, so loosening them up takes real dedication. We recommend spending time with the foam roller in this area between your desk job (if you have one) and your workout to help undo the sedentary damage from sitting around on your glutes all day.

3. Upper Back, Shoulders, and Arms

Your entire back is not off-limits to foam rolling, only the lower back below the rib cage. Above the ribs has enough stability and support to sustain foam rolling, and can help with both lower and upper back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain.

The above video demonstrates how you can roll the upper back with a long foam roller and target the deeper muscles of the shoulders with dense foam balls, relieving trigger points in the chest and between the shoulder blades.

Likewise, foam rolling the muscles in the upper and lower arms is a great way to reduce muscle soreness after a workout, as well as treat and prevent wrist tendinitis (also spelled tendonitis) in case your job requires you to sit all day or involves the repetitive motion of typing.

Foam Roller Lower Back Pain Away

Further Muscle Support

Foam rolling isn’t appropriate for everyone. It is not recommended to use a foam roller if you have any bleeding disorders or medical conditions such as organ or heart failure. For those who cannot safely use a foam roller, non-assisted stretches are all the more important, as is making sure you’re getting the necessary muscle-support molecules from your food or from supplementation, by which we mean amino acids.

When we’re talking about a place as vulnerable as the lower back, strong muscle support is everything, and you can’t turn over and synthesis new muscle cells without every one of the nine essential amino acids. For working out, healing and recovering, and building strength, amino acids are key.

Further Muscle Support

Roll On

When foam rolling for lower back pain, it’s important to be careful. One mistake could lead to a lifetime of chronic pain, so if at any point your pain gets worse, stop what you’re doing and consult a medical or fitness professional for advice and help.

Other than that, you may be surprised by how quickly the foam roller works to cure your ailment, in some cases immediate relief for pain that’s been chronic and unshakeable for months, if not years. Use your foam roller well!

Quadriceps Tendonitis: Symptoms, Stretches and Strengthening Solutions

Discover what causes quadriceps tendonitis, how to distinguish it from patellar tendonitis, how to treat the injury so it can heal fully via recovery techniques and amino acid supplements, and how to avoid future injury by stretching and strengthening your quads.

Quadriceps tendonitis (sometimes spelled tendinitis) afflicts the area just above the knee where the quadriceps muscles and tendons are located. Untreated tendonitis in this area could escalate to tendinosis (the long-term chronic form of tendonitis) and eventually require knee surgery. Find out what causes this damage, the signs and symptoms of quadriceps tendonitis, and how to stretch and strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the knee joint.

Anatomy of the Knee

The knee joint is the meeting place of the tibia (shinbone) and the femur (thighbone) behind the patella (kneecap). The kneecap is enveloped by a tendon that connects the quadriceps muscles (on the front of the thigh) to the shinbone at a spot known as the tibial tubercle just below the kneecap.

The quadriceps tendon on top of the kneecap and the patellar tendon on the underside of it make up what is known as the quadriceps mechanism. Patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee) is sometimes mistaken for quadriceps tendonitis due to the close working relationship within the soft tissues of the knee joint. Correctly identifying the cause and source of your knee pain is the first step to fixing it.

Anatomy of the Knee

Symptoms and Causes of Quadriceps Tendonitis

The quadriceps are essential for jumping, walking, running, climbing, and squatting. Overuse by athletes, sports players, and runners can cause painful inflammation and long-lasting harm, but there are ways to help avoid quadriceps pain and injury (read to the end of the article for those details). Tendonitis can afflict the connective tissue of the wrist, foot, elbow, and more, but here’s how it presents in the knee.

Signs and Symptoms of Quadriceps Tendonitis

It’s important to recognize and identify the cause of knee pain related to the large muscles of the thigh and the patella tendons. Tendonitis in general causes a feeling of burning, itching inflammation, and quadriceps tendonitis pain is located at the base of the thigh, just above the knee. The pain is most noticeable during knee movement, and may also present with other symptoms like:

  • Touch sensitivity and tenderness
  • Stiffness and aching after inactivity (sleeping, sitting)
  • Swelling of the knee joint
  • Weakness and limited mobility
  • Worsening pain and burning after use or during a workout

Common Causes and Risk Factors for Quadriceps Tendonitis

Here’s a breakdown of the risk factors and causes of quadriceps pain.

  • Advancing age: Aging affects the entire body, and often joint pain is one of the earliest signs that natural wear and tear or overuse is taking its toll on older athletes.
  • Certain sports activities: Sporting activities that include running and jumping like volleyball, soccer, basketball, and sprinting can quickly lead to knee injuries like ACL tears, MCL damage, and tendonitis.
  • Misalignment or poor movement: If your foot, knee joint, or spine is inherently misaligned or your gait or posture is incorrect, you may be experiencing quadriceps pain. A condition such as overpronation as you walk could be causing the pain you’re experiencing further up the leg.
  • Certain professions: Working in construction, emergency medicine, or in a warehouse situation involves a great deal of squatting, kneeling, and lifting, all of which could cause quadriceps knee pain and tendonitis.
  • Exercise issues: Not stretching before exercise, returning to exercise too soon before healing, or working out on hard surfaces could injure the quadriceps tendon.
  • Trauma: A direct impact to the area from an accident, fall, or sports collision could lead to quadriceps pain and inflammation.
  • Surrounding or underlying issues: Excessive body weight adds extra stress to your joints and the tendons and ligaments within them. Other surrounding muscles like your hamstrings may be too tight, or chronic diseases like arthritis, lupus, or diabetes could be hampering the blood supply or functionality of the knee enough to cause tendonitis.

Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors for Quadriceps Tendonitis

Diagnosis and Treatment of Quadriceps Tendonitis

Depending on the severity of your knee’s condition, treatment may vary after diagnosis.

Diagnosis

A doctor or physical therapist is likely to confirm your knee problem using the following diagnostics.

  • Physical exam: A manual examination of your lower extremities can help a professional pinpoint the origin of your pain.
  • Medical history: Assessing changes in behavior can help your doctor determine the source of your current pain (examples include a sudden increase in physical activity or an injury that is not healing properly).
  • X-rays: Though they can’t show soft tissue injuries, X-rays can confirm whether or not your pain is caused by issues with bone alignment.
  • MRIs: Used for identifying soft tissue causes, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can reveal whether or not there is a tendon tear.

Treatment

Once the cause of quadriceps tendonitis is established, the next step is treatment, which may include some combination of the following treatment options.

  • RICE: Nonsurgical treatments like RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) may be all your body needs to heal itself. Supplements containing the essential amino acids necessary for tissue repair can speed up the healing process.
  • Physical therapy: Massage, heat and cold treatments, and therapies such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation may help your healing. Consult a professional to determine the best ways to exercise going forward.
  • Knee braces and orthotics: Taping your knees, using a splint, or purchasing a neoprene knee sleeve can help stabilize your knee as you heal and prevent damaging movements or slips. Likewise, an orthotic insert in your shoes can help correct your gait, reduce the stress on your knee, or correct a physical imbalance like one leg being shorter than the other (a common cause for knee and back pain).
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications: NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen can help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling while you heal, as can natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric.
  • Surgery: Your doctor may recommend surgery as a last resort in cases of acute quadriceps tendonitis to remove and repair damaged tissue or if the cause of your knee pain requires a surgical solution (like a severely torn or injured tendon). Whether or not surgery is right for you can only be decided in consultation with your physician, and may involve a rehabilitation program to get you back to your former level of activity.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Quadriceps Tendonitis

Prevention of Quadriceps Tendonitis

Once you’re healed from quadriceps tendonitis and feeling fit, it’s important to prioritize activity modification to reduce your risk of experiencing that pain again. Here are some tips for injury prevention.

1. Amino Acid Support

In the early stages of quadricep injury recovery, amino acids are necessary for repairing and replacing soft tissue like muscle. Once you have regained your full range of motion, continued use of an essential amino acid supplement helps prevent overuse injuries by supplying the body with every building block it needs to fix and regenerate muscle as you work out and play hard.

Too often tendonitis is the result of compounding injury, a little here and a little there until it’s too much to heal without ceasing activity for a while. To keep up with the demands you make on your body, be sure it always has a balanced supply of every molecule needed to keep your muscles and collagen fibers in prime condition.

2. Appropriate Footwear

Tendon injuries due to a muscle imbalance caused by inappropriate footwear are some of the most frustrating because they are 100% avoidable. A fallen arch (flat-footedness), overpronation, and underpronation of the foot can be corrected with the right footwear, as can a shortened leg. With the right stability under your feet, you can also avoid improper shinbone rotations, tracking abnormalities of the kneecap, and needless misalignments of the ankles, knees, hips, and back.

3. Strengthening Exercises

Any physical therapist will tell you that warm-up exercises before a workout or sporting activity help prevent a vast number of injuries. Here are a few specific strengthening exercises you can use to target your quads.

Terminal Knee Extension (TKE)

A terminal knee extension is not as ominous as it sounds, but is instead a standing exercise meant to strengthen your quadriceps. Using an exercise band, an immovable object, and your own body weight, the terminal knee extension is done via the following steps.

  1. Tie the resistance band to something stable and anchored to the wall or floor (a post, heavy exercise machine, or the leg of a sturdy table).
  2. Step one leg into the band and place the loop just above your slightly bent knee.
  3. Step back until the band is taught, and straighten your knee slowly against the resistance of the band.
  4. Hold the tension for 3 seconds before release, and repeat 15 times before switching to the other leg.

Be sure to move through this exercise slowly and steadily, and to always work out both sides of the body evenly to avoid developing a muscle imbalance. This exercise can be ramped up by doing it standing on one foot.

Wall Slides for Quads

Another standing exercise, this one requiring no extra equipment, wall slides for quads benefit your calf, quad, and glute muscles.

  • Standing upright with your back to a wall, press your shoulders and lower back until they are flush against the wall. Plant your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Bend your knees so that your back slides down the wall until you reach a count of 5 or until your knees are at a 45-degree bent angle. Hold this position for another count of 5.
  • Slide back up the wall by straightening your knees again, repeat for 10 total reps.

Remember, when it comes to strengthening slow and steady wins the race. Also be sure not to sink deeper than a 45-degree angle, as sliding up from a squat is much more difficult and could cause an injury. To increase difficulty safely, select a pair of dumbbells to hold while doing this exercise.

Straight Leg Raises (SLR)

This exercise can be done from a floor or any flat surface, like a firm bed for those recovering from surgery.

  • Lie down on a flat surface and bend one knee up to a 90-degree angle.
  • Keep the other leg straight and raise it until your thighs are parallel.
  • Hold for 5 seconds before lowering the leg back down slowly. Repeat up to 15 times before switching to the other leg.

A weighted cuff can increase the difficulty of this exercise, as can using a resistance band placed around both ankles.

Short Arc Quads (SAQ)

This exercise is also done in a lying down or sitting position.

  • Lie down on a flat surface and use a foam roller, basket or medicine ball, or a paper towel roll to prop up one knee.
  • Slowly extend the propped leg until the knee is straight, and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Lower the leg back down, and repeat up to 15 times before switching to the other leg.

When the knee is in the straightened position, try to tense your quadricep specifically during the 5-second hold. Utilize a weighted cuff to make the exercise more challenging.

Prevention of Quadriceps Tendonitis

Knee Sleeves and Support Wraps: When You Need Them and How to Select the Best (Top 7 Brands)

Knee sleeves for workout support and fitness recovery: what should you be looking for in a knee sleeve (material, thickness, design), and what are the best brands on the market (professional, certified, durable)? Find out these answers and more.

Our knee joints are biological engineering marvels, but they’re also extremely prone to injury, especially in those who lead active lifestyles or push their bodies to the limit. From ACL tears to worn-down cartilage, the more we ask of our knees the more potential there is for long-term damage. Learn about how knee sleeves can offer support to help avoid injury, how knee wraps can protect you while you heal from injury, plus the top seven best brands and their key features so you can select the perfect brace for your needs.

Common Knee Injuries

The knee is a hinge joint made up of bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments that allow us to walk, run, jump, squat, and sit.

The bones include the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone), and the patella (kneecap). Between the thigh and shinbone are caps of cartilage to keep the bones from grinding together, and throughout the knee joint are four ligaments and various tendons that crisscross and stabilize the whole operation.

With so many moving parts, knee damage is a frequent injury seen in sports medicine and accident care. Here are the most common knee injuries.

1. Bone Fractures

A fracture to any of the bones involved in the knee can be debilitating, but the most common break is the kneecap, which is there to act as a shield to the rest of the joint.

Kneecap breaks are most often caused by falls that land on the kneecaps, or in instances of a car accident when the knees are the first part of the body to hit the dashboard.

Those with a condition such as osteoporosis are not only more prone to falls but may break their kneecaps without an impact injury due to the weakness of the bones if the disease has advanced far enough.

2. ACL Tears

The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament that runs diagonally just behind the kneecap. The injury grade is measured from 1 to 3 in severity and may require ligament replacement surgery if the injury is too severe to stitch and allow to heal on its own.

The least amount of injury is a mild sprain, which involves rest and care so it doesn’t worsen, while the most amount of injury is a complete and irreparable tear of the ligament. These injuries are very common in sports like soccer and football because they often occur in moments of jump-landing and swift changes in directional movement.

3. Knee Dislocation

Dislocations occur when any of the bones of the knee are out of alignment. Whether due to an accidental slip out of place or a traumatic injury, dislocation of the knee requires medical attention and a knee brace to keep the bones of the knee stable.

4. Meniscus Tears

The menisci of the knee are the cartilage caps on each knee bone that keeps them from rubbing together. A tear in one or both of these caps, whether due to injury or to age-related wear and tear, can be very painful and if left untreated could lead to further worsening injuries.

An age-related injury is known as a degenerative meniscus tear, while a sudden tear to the meniscus may involve a “pop” sound or sensation, pain, and swelling. This sort of injury needs medical attention, and treatment may involve a meniscus tear brace.

5. Bursitis

Bursa sacs exist throughout the body between many of our joints. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that help lubricate and cushion the movements between bones, ligaments, and tendons. If they become irritated, injured, or inflamed, you’ve got a case of bursitis.

Luckily this condition is usually mended by at-home care and rest, but some may need the area to be aspirated to drain out excess fluid and allow healing to begin. Evaluate your own pain levels and decide whether you think your condition merits medical consultation or intervention.

6. Tendonitis

Tendonitis can happen in your hands, feet, elbows, and knees. It occurs when the tendons that usually slide smoothly back and forth as we move our limbs become inflamed or compressed due to swelling, causing a burning, itching sort of pain and soreness.

Those whose work involves a repetitive movement like typing may utilize wrist wraps to help stabilize the area and reduce injury. The same logic applies to those whose work, workouts, or sporting activities lead to conditions like jumper’s knee, which is tendonitis of the patellar tendon (extending from the top of the shinbone to the bottom of the kneecap). Check out some natural anti-inflammatory solutions before turning to over-the-counter NSAIDs if you have tendonitis.

7. Tendon Tears

Tendonitis is often cured by DIY RICE procedures (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate), but a tendon tear is as serious as a ligament tear and requires professional medical treatment. A common sports injury, tendon tears also become more frequent as we age due to overactivity or injury.

8. Collateral Ligament Tears

The collateral ligaments attach the shinbone to the thighbone on the inside and outside of the knee: the medial collateral ligament (MCL) on the inside and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) on the outside.

These injuries are far more common in athletes who play contact sports like football, but can happen to anyone who suffers a collision to the inside or outside of their knee, like a car accident with a side-door impact.

9. PCL Tears

The final of the four knee ligaments is the PCL or posterior cruciate ligament. This is the ligament at the back of the knee that also connects thighbone to shinbone and completes the 4-wall brace that the ligaments hold around the knee joint. It keeps the shinbone from going back too far (so that your knee bends forward only, never backward), and an impact or injury to this ligament can compromise your ability to walk.

10. Iliotibial Band Syndrome

The iliotibial band is on the outside of the knee, a long band that runs from your pelvis, along your outer thigh, and cups just around the knee to attach to your shinbone. Iliotibial band syndrome is an irritation of this band due to overuse, seen most frequently in bicyclists and long-distance runners.

Common Knee Injuries

Knee Sleeves Types to Repair and Prevent Injuries

Let’s talk about knee support sleeves now, the different kinds and which activities they’re best suited for (see the final section of this article for brand recommendations).

Knee sleeves are used to provide support, reduce swelling, and prevent injuries by limiting the knee’s range of motion to where it’s supposed to be (not side-to-side slipping). There are three thickness levels of compression knee sleeves, each designed to support different activities.

  • 3mm thick: The thinnest of the brace types, this knee sleeve is best for endurance, cardio, and agility workouts, as well as long-distance training. It’s light enough not to weigh down a marathon runner, but still provides the stabilizing support that can help an athlete avoid injury as the body fatigues.
  • 5mm thick: This thickness is best for mixed activity, meaning sports or workouts with varied training that need support and agility in equal amounts. A 5mm knee sleeve is appropriate for triathlon training or CrossFit workouts, good in and out of the gym.
  • 7mm thick: These thicker 7mm knee sleeves are made for short, heavy activities like powerlifting. The heavy lifting done by bodybuilders puts an overwhelming amount of pressure on the knees and back, which is why robust knee braces and weightlifting belts are often seen on these titans of the gym to really lock the body in place.

Compression sleeves are good to avoid injuries and to treat them by minimizing swelling and reducing the risk of reinjury when people return to their normal activities. The same sort of products exist as ankle, wrist, and elbow sleeves too.

Knee Sleeves Types to Repair and Prevent InjuriesWhat to Look for in a Knee Support Sleeve

In the FAQs surrounding knee sleeves, there are a few key questions that keep arising. Here are some details to consider before you shop around for a pair of knee sleeves, as we want to make sure you’re confident in your decision before you head to checkout.

  • Thickness: The previous section reviewed the thickness options, so simply ask yourself what you want to do with your knee sleeves—run a marathon, lift weights, or a little bit of everything? That will tell you which thickness to select. In general, the average gym-goer does best with the middle-of-the-road 5mm knee sleeve.
  • Structure: You can buy knee sleeves that are open (patella sleeves with a hole for the knee cap), closed (full sleeves), or that come with extra support material like padding, either removable or stitched in orthopedic braces, and extra sling-shot straps for added customizable support.
  • Material: Regardless of the brand, most knee sleeves are made using neoprene. There are spandex, silicone, and nylon options available, but neoprene is a synthetic rubber found often in sporting, outdoor, and marine equipment and clothing because it’s durable, water-resistant, and easy to clean. This is the material we recommend, especially since neoprene products are usually machine washable.
  • Length: This is no one-size-fits-all situation. Longer sleeves mean more compression and better blood flow control, but that length might feel constraining in fast and free activities like CrossFit. Your decision depends on your comfort requirements.
  • Price: If you’re new to the gym or only recovering from an injury, there are relatively cheap knee sleeves out there (less than $20) that can serve your purpose without breaking the bank. For professional athletes or committed fitness enthusiasts, however, premium knee sleeves can run upwards of $60 to $100—you’d only spend that kind of money if you know exactly what you want and need the best and longest lasting.
  • Certification: The USPA, IWF, and IPF are governing organizations of powerlifting competitions in the U.S. and abroad, and you may want to make sure the product you’re buying has their seal of approval if you’re thinking about competing, or if you just want to make sure you’re getting the highest quality products used by the pros.
  • Style: A lot of knee sleeves are plain, solid colors that attract little or no attention, but there are also brands that offer bright eye-catching colors and patterned material. It doesn’t make any difference to the quality of the product, but maybe if you’re choosing between brands and one has a cool camo or pretty floral pattern, the style will be the last straw that makes your decision.

What to Look for in a Knee Support Sleeve

The Top 7 Best Knee Sleeves

Whether you’re looking for lifting knee sleeves for strongman exercises, a brace for knee pain relief and blood flow support while healing, or a general gym helper in the form of a knee support sleeve, here are the top seven brands available to choose from.

1. Stoic Knee Sleeves

With a simple, minimalist black design, the Stoic knee sleeve is a neoprene sleeve that comes in four separate sizes with a non-slip interior. Its stitching is triple reinforced, and with 7mm thickness and a length of 30 centimeters, it’s a higher-priced model that is approved by the USAPL, USPA, and IPF organizations (so perfect for weightlifters).

2. Rehband RX Knee Support

With seven sizes and a dozen color combos, Rehband has been in business since 1955 providing world-class quality products with Swedish design and European production. They have a unique, patented full-sleeve design with comfort seams using neoprene and textile material for non-slip comfort. They are expensive, however, at about $35 for one sleeve.

3. Fitnessery Knee Sleeves

Fitnessery provides a more inexpensive ($17 for a pair) neoprene sleeve with reinforced stitching and a mesh carrying bag for convenience. If you’re looking for your first set of knee sleeves, this is a great beginner’s choice that won’t break the bank as you experiment with your fitness routine.

4. Bear KompleX Compression Knee Sleeves

While these neoprene sleeves from Bear KompleX are not IPF-approved, they are USPA-approved in 5mm and 7mm varieties. Middling in price between $25 and $60 per pair, the best selling point might be the style choices: colorful camouflage patterns, red and blue bandanas, stars and stripes, Aztec reversible, and more, including plain old black if you don’t need flair at the gym.

5. Iron Bull Strength Knee Sleeves

With 7mm neoprene designs perfect for powerlifters, Iron Bull Strength knee sleeves have choices in accent colors, anti-slip pads made of silicone, and an extended length for full support. The only downside is they’re not competition-certified by any weightlifting federations, so they’re better as a relatively inexpensive choice for amateur lifters.

6. Jupiter Knee Sleeves

Another fun pair of knee sleeves best for the weekend warrior type more than the professional competitor, Jupiter brand knee sleeves are affordable, relatively durable for casual use, and have punk-rock design patterns like black camo and skulls. Made of neoprene just like all our selections, they are easily machine washable.

7. Gymreapers Knee Sleeves

Speaking of the skull aesthetic, Gymreaper’s lifting knee socks also have their own unique design, come with a 1-year warranty, and a matching complimentary polyester gym bag. Mid-range in pricing, this option and all of our selections are easily found, compared, and purchased from Amazon.

The Top 7 Best Knee Sleeves

The Bee’s Knees Sleeves

There you have it: what makes up a good knee sleeve, who needs them where and when, and a few recommendations to get you started. The more support you have when working out, the faster you can achieve your max strength.