When Should a Young Athlete Begin Strength Training?

When Should a Young Athlete Begin Strength Training?

This season with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, we experienced challenges communicating with parents when the appropriate time for an athlete to begin strength training would be, and how this process was best undertaken.  I think the 6 points in this article can apply not only to ski racing athletes, but to all athletes, so I decided to blog it!

Dr. Ryan Oughtred, ND

Lose roughly 50 lbs and Change your Life - Next Vancouver Weight Loss Group Starts September 30

Lose roughly 50 lbs and Change your Life - Next Vancouver Weight Loss Group Starts September 30

We need 8-12 patients patients for our next Vancouver Weight Loss/ Weight Management Group starting September 30/2014.  Patients should require roughly 50 lbs of weight loss and/ or have medical reasons for losing weight. Book your free consult today to see if the program is for you.

CON Mental Health and Obesity Conference

CON_OMH_program_2014_4 cover I just attended another great event put on the CON on mental heath and obesity.  Its great to see there is more study being done in this important area.  Rates of obesity and its related comorbidities are higher in people with mental illness, and yet many weight management programs deselect against people with mental health problems, for fear of destabilizing their mental illness or having poor outcomes in the program.  It looks like this worry is unjustified, and may even be discriminatory.

Bariatric Medicine/ Obesity Medicine Course

Last weekend I attended the Canadian Obesity Network's obesity course in Edmonton, Alberta. The high level of care and compassion that the CON staff bring to their work is inspiring and Dr. Arya Sharma is a terrific speaker and leader in the field.  I look forward to taking part in their courses and seminars more in the future.

I am happy to say that the course helped me to realize that I am right on track with the development of next year's 9-12 month weight loss program, and I hope to start recruiting patients soon for the new year!

Dr. Ryan Oughtred

Dr. Oughtred Joins Stein Medical Clinic

Dr. Oughtred is pleased announce that he has joined the team at Stein Medical clinic, in Downtown Vancouver BC.  Stein Medical Clinic is an integrative, walk in medical clinic that not only offers medical care, but also offers in-house physical therapy, massage therapy, and now with the addition of Dr. Oughtred, Naturopathic Medicine.  With this new addition, Stein Medical patients can benefit from a team approach, resulting in more efficient and comprehensive primary care.  Lets say for instance that have chronic fatigue; you can book an appointment with Dr. Oughtred, and if required you could also see an MD after your visit for further work up.  This saves you time as well as allows for a 'two heads are better than one' approach to your concerns.  If you have extended health care as well as MSP coverage, your 1-hour of services could cost you nothing and you will be well on your way to better health and well being. Both Dr. Ryan Oughtred and Stein Medical Clinic believe that a pro-active, multidisciplinary approach to patient care is the way of the future.  Dr. Oughtred hopes his presence at Stein Medical will be a step toward making the future a reality.

Ryan Oughtred

Naturopathic Doctor, Vancouver BC.

Fitness: How to Avoid Overtraining

Many athletes fail because they think that if they just work harder and do more workouts than the next athlete, they will succeed.  True, working out harder and more often leads to better fitness, but there comes a time when this strategy can cause harm.  When training too much causes harm, we call it overtraining; this is in contrast to overreaching which occurs from the intentional, planned overloading that occurs as part of a well designed exercise program.  Overreaching is mainly a short term phenomenon (days to weeks) that sometimes leads to small amounts of fatigue and decreased performance; overtraining usually causes more severe and longer term symptoms that can be present for a month or more. The primary cause of overtraining is usually a lack of rest and recovery in the training program.  In our training program, we purposefully try to overreach for at least one week each month.  During that week, you may find that you experience fatigue, muscle soreness, and other symptoms that would suggest your body is not performing optimally.  The following week when the training volume is lower, you should notice those symptoms subsiding and your fitness will gradually improve as your body adapts to the high training stimulus the week before. This adaptation phenomenon is call Super-compensation, and it is the foundation upon which all of exercise methodologies rest.

Training too much, with too high intensity, or without proper variety is certainly the leading cause of overtraining, but other factors that limit recovery can also lead to overtraining.  For example, chronic psychological stress can limit the body’s ability to heal between exercise sessions.  Hormone imbalances created by a poor diet or medications can lead to an imbalance between catabolic and anabolic hormones which decreases the body’s ability to recovery from stressful workouts.  Poor sleep is a very common complaint, and people who don’t sleep well are notoriously weak and tired when they show up for the workout sessions.

So how do you prevent overtraining?  The old adage about listening to your body applies.  Athletes will go so far as to keep a training journal in order to monitor various physiological parameters.  If they start to become abnormal for any sustained period, then they would change their exercise program or focus harder on enhancing their recovery.  Signs and symptoms of overtraining are:

  1. General Fatigue, lack of motivation and even depression and other mood changes.
  2. Poor performance in workouts or on key measurements.  For example:
    1. Decrease vertical jump or leg power
    2. Poor grip strength
    3. Muscle stiffness
    4. Joint Pain
    5. Skin complexion and presence of acne.
    6. Athlete gets sick easily.
    7. Changes in the resting heart rate.
      1. A common practice among elite athletes is to take your resting heart rate every day at the same time – usually in the morning.
      2. Higher and more variable resting heart rates are signs of overtraining.

The better you get at monitoring these aspects of your health, the better you can match your training with your goals.  You may start to notice that you never experience any of these signs and symptoms, and that you may not be pushing yourself hard enough.  Or, you may notice that you get many of these symptoms and you realize that you don’t vary your workouts enough.  Quite often the reasons for the symptoms are obvious, but you never would have noticed them unless you forced yourself to take a look!  Its very difficult to be objective about yourself.

Some of the general methods for avoiding overtraining are similar to those that provide for good health:  Eat well, sleep well, avoid chronic stress and have some fun once in a while.  For those that train really hard, you will benefit from extra stimuli to the body, like massage, hot/cold applications, nutritional supplements and active recovery.

In summary, “Whatever doesn’t kill you will makes you stronger.”  Both in exercise and in life, the optimal doses of stress seem to be right in the middle – not too much or not too little.  Because we live in a sedentary society, we don’t pay much attention to overtraining in exercise, because most people don't push to the point where overtraining is an issue.  However, many people push too intense with their exercise when their body is not ready - this is a type of overtraining that is becoming more common now, with the gaining popularity of Crossfit and other intense types of workouts.  The solution to this is to perform lower intensity exercise in higher quantities at first, then build up to doing lower amounts of activities at higher intensities.   This allows the body to be prepared to do high intensity activities, and helps to prevent injury.

Finding that sweet spot where you get the least down sides and the most upsides with your exercise routine is both your job and your health care provider’s job.   I hope you found this article helpful and good luck finding your sweet spot this month!

Dr. Ryan Oughtred, ND

Sample Vancouver Group Fitness Session

Here is a quick video demo of one of our small group personal training sessions in Vancouver, BC.  These clients are new to the program, so the exercises use fairly light weights, involve the whole body, and there is very little rest provided from one set to the next.  Notice this is a small group - only 3 people - so the session is like a personal training session but much more cost effective.  Almost all of our fitness programs will involve several components of fitness, such as balance, strength, endurance, agility, or flexibility training.

Lactate Testing - It's That time of Year Again

DrO's Lactate Test
DrO's Lactate Test

It's that time of year for lactate tests everyone:

Dr. O just had his lactate test done, see the attached graph.  I was surprised to see that I was fitter this year, because it sure didn't feel that way during the Peak to Valley Ski race!  The test shows how useful lactate testing is - I pushed to the same max wattage and my perceived exertion was similar to my test from last year. Without the lactate I wouldn't get to appreciate all of that hard work I put into my fitness this year.

Stop playing small everyone, lactate testing is for everyone that exercises, not just elite athletes!

Dr.O Whistler and Vancouver BC

60 Minutes on Depression

60 minutes last week aired a segment that featured the work of Dr. Kirsch from Harvard University. His work compares the effect of placebo against that of antidepressant medications. The results if his studies and many other studies is that antidepressants are no better than placebo in the treatment of most types if depression, except for the small group of patients that have severe depression. This is not new to Canadian and British physicians who no longer recommend the use of antidepressant medications for moderate to severe depression. It was good to see this topic making news, but it's unfortunate that the message is arriving so late. What is also unfortunate is the amount of patients that I still see that have been prescribed antidepressant medications for short term and mild types of depression. Obviously we need more media messages to drive the point home, thank you 60 minutes. Ryan Oughtred Naturopathic Doctor Vancouver, BC

Fitness: Sport Specific Conditioning

Monthly Theme:  Sport Specific Fitness

Probably the single biggest mistake that fitness professionals can make is to choose the wrong type of exercise for their client.  Whether you are an athlete or not, everyone needs to do a minimum of 600 hours of exercise every month – that’s a lot of time!  In order to make the most of that time, you need to utilize the proper quantity of exercises, the proper frequencies, the proper intensities and perhaps most importantly, you need to choose the proper types of exercises that will help you reach your goals.  In the end, a runner needs to run, a skier needs to ski, and a golfer needs to golf to get good at what they do.  If you.

Improving your fitness will help you reach your physical goals, but only if the fitness activities you choose mimic the demands of your sport.  For example a golfer needs to be strong, stable and flexible for full body twisting movements and in the stabilizing muscles of the shoulders, spine and hips.  Exercises for a golfer should be focused on these movements.  Tiger Wood’s old trainer is popular for having him run and workout with a weighted vest – this gave him strength endurance in the lower body and hips for tasks like running, jumping, and climbing hills but it did very little for his golf game in my opinion.  In fact, it may have even done harm by increasing wear and tear to his knees and other lower quarter joints.

So what types of exercises should you choose?  Here are some examples of how strength exercises can be made more specific for different sports:

-A runner would strengthen their legs with primarily lunging and stepping movements, not squatting movements

-A golfer would strengthen spinal rotation with cables and they would ensure a complete range of motion so that the exercise preserves or enhances their flexibility.

-A footballer would put bands around their feet or other resistance to their lower legs to create endurance and strength in their hip stabilizers.  They would also utilize high-speed foot work drills combined with power drills like jumping and sprinting.  All of these fitness components would have to performed in high volumes to create endurance for playing long periods of time.

The sport specific principle can be utilized for everyone:

- A mom could perform deadlifts, squats and upper body strength exercises to aid in their ability to lift things and manage active children at home.

- A fireman would stop doing bench press and start doing more full body pushing activities like resisted push ups or cable presses that require more stability in the shoulder.  They would train with ropes, dumbells, kettlebells or other devices that challenge grip strength, shoulder stability and strength at the same time.

- If you are someone who wants to gain weight and build muscle, your exercises should focus on using large muscles groups, and several muscle groups at a time.   Bicep curls will not get you quick weight gains - squats, Olympic lifts, lunges, step ups, sprints, jumps, dips, pull ups and the avoidance of aerobic activity will help you build muscle without having to quit your day job.

Hopefully this discussion of sport specific training has helped you think about how you can choose better types of exercises.  You don’t have all the time in the world to work out and take care of your health, so make sure you make the most of it with exercises that suit your own specific needs and make the most of your precious time!

Dr Oughtred offers Biophysical 250

In the December 2007 issue of Scientific American, Body, there was an article titled, "The Ultimate Blood Test".  The article was a review of a new blood test called the Biophysical 250, the most comprehensive blood test available to date.  I was intrigued, and eventually I decided to call Biophysical Corp to learn more about the test.  After a few conversations, I was convinced that this was a test that I would be comfortable offering to my patients. It's called the Biophysical 250, because it measures 250 things in your blood, all at once.  For those afraid of having blood drawn, you can rest assured that the test requires only 2 tablespoons of blood.  The test covers blood markers for cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, infectious disease, nutritional status, hormonal status, inflammation, blood diseases, osteoarthitis, and organ dysfunction.  Biophysical Corp does not advocate testing anything that there is no treatment for, so they don't test markers for alzheimers for instance.  Biophysical reports that in a trial of 120 clients who received the Biophysical, 27 clients had a moderate health risk, and another 15 had a major health risk.  The Biophysical 250 can help discover problems before they become problems, and there are many markers that wouldn't normally be tested for until the disease was already apparent.   Some examples are:

  • H-pylori (a bacteria associated with stomach ulcers)
  • Autoimmune markers (For lupus, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Insulin (high insulin levels are thought to precede type 2 diabetes)
  • Cancer markers (Breast, Prostate, Colon, Pancreas, Liver, Testicular)
  • Ferritin (high ferretin can be assymptomatic, and represents high iron stores, which can be harmful to the body over time)
  • Thyroid Markers (thyroid disease is common, and can go a long time before being diagnosed)
  • Hepatitis markers

The trouble with waiting until you get a disease, is that you stand the risk of not being able to reverse the disease process once it is diagnosed.  Cancer and autoimmune diseases are classic examples of diseases that have much better outcomes if treated earlier.

The Biophysical 250 does not replace a comprehensive annual health screen with your physician, but for those who can afford it, it can be a great, low risk adjuct to a comprehensive medical assessement for the patient that wants to know more about their existing state of health.

To learn more about the test, visit: .  The company has also come up with an abreviated version of the test that is priced more competitively, and still screens for several of the same markers.