By Neil Short, certified strength and conditioning specialist and and creator of ‘Be Strong Be Free’
Here is a resolution for all of us over 55: Commit to a life of Positive Aging. This is our life-long resolution, not merely a New Year’s Resolution.
New Year’s Resolutions tend to focus on subjects like weight loss and learning a new language. New Year’s Resolutions are all too often made only to be broken, and quit quickly at that. When a resolution (weight loss) is broken, the negative activity (eating poorly) becomes much worse. Everyone knows that New Year’s Resolutions usually fail.
Rather than making a doomed – to – fail resolution for the New Year, those of us 55 and older need to make a life plan to take responsibility for our lives and make the next years the best they can possibly be.
Does that sound just too grand and broad to be real and effective? It is not. A positive life plan starts with an attitude that puts you in charge of how you will age and flourish versus allowing yourself to wither. Choose active aging rather than allow aging to be a form of disability. Decide that you want to remain active to the fullest degree possible and then do what needs to be done.
In this column, which will appear monthly on The Pulse, I will explore topics that contribute to a healthy, happy and productive life at any age. The basic tenents are the same, no matter if you are 20 or 70. But I will devote this space to those of us who, in the words of Dylan Thomas, will “not go gentle into that good night.”
Certainly you must eat well to have any hope of being the best you can be. Of course you must engage in exercise centered on strength training to give you the boost and ability to live a full life. But there is one more dynamic of positive aging that you must buy into to make your senior years full and rewarding.
A key ingredient is committing to a purpose or a cause that forces you outside of your personal universe. Find meaning in your life beyond your family and your home projects. To be the best possible version of you, step out of your comfort zone and contribute to the broader community. Opportunities abound. Work with a church group; volunteer in a meaningful way with one of the many fine non-profit organizations in our community. Expend yourself and expand yourself. The community will benefit, but even more important, you will be the better for it.
Here is your resolution then: commit to a life of positive aging that includes contributing your time, energy, and talents to a worthy cause.
Expand your personal universe by making aging a positive process. Eat well, exercise enthusiastically, and become engaged in the community. Everything else will fall into place.
Neil Short demonstrates this good starter exercise which can be done with weighted objects found around your house – like two filled water bottles. Find more exercises and strength-training tips at http://www.bestrongbefree.com/. Never start any exercise program without first consulting your healthcare provider.
Neil Short, 66, of Casper, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a USA Weightlifting Level 1 certified coach. As he approached age 60, he sought to discover why some seniors recover from health problems, but others do not, and why some people power into their senior years while others allow aging to become a form of disability. The answer became very clear: strength training.
He is the creator of “Be Strong Be Free,” a home-based strength-training program to help you stay active into your 80s and 90s. Learn more at http://www.bestrongbefree.com/ His “Strength in Numbers” column appears monthly on The Pulse.
Five years ago, Lauren was a college athlete, sprinting up and down the soccer field. She gradually noticed pain in her calves when she ran. It seemed to be getting worse. The deep burning pain eventually appeared every time she exerted any force on her legs — flexing her feet, walking up stairs, running or squatting.
Doctors diagnosed her with cronic exertional compartment syndrome, an exercise-induced pain and swelling in leg muscles that will often sideline athletes from favored sports. Lauren underwent three surgeries on each leg. None worked.
“After each one, I never had any relief. Doctors kept convincing me to have another one. This is not my style. I used to be a high-level athlete who never had injuries,” said Lauren, a patient of Dr. Joe McGinley who recently flew to Casper from her home in New Jersey to undergo a new non-surgical treatment for the syndrome. McGinley, who specializes in musculoskeletal radiology and sports medicine, is the only doctor in the country to offer this therapy, but is traveling the country training other doctors to do it safely.
A new procedure
Until very recently, athletes with exertional compartment syndrome had two options: conservatively treat symptoms with rest and pain killers, but these are only successful if they give up the activities they love. The other option was surgery.
Lauren didn’t want to give up soccer and she’d found no relief through surgery. During one of her many late night Google searches, she found Dr. McGinley, a Casper doctor who claimed to have a new procedure that used Botox injections to relieve exertional compartment syndrome symptoms.
Dr. McGinley understands athletes. He’s one himself. In July, he ran the Cowboy Tough, a 300-mile adventure race from Cheyenne to Casper. He puts a special emphasis on treating sports injuries without surgery.
In 2011, Laura Stamp was a venerable high school athlete for Natrona County High School, competing in cross country, soccer and Nordic skiing. Her calf pain had started in 2008 at the end of her freshman year and gradually worsened. She was diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome.
About a month before Stamp was to undergo surgery, a friend heard a talk on the syndrome by Dr. McGinley and arranged for the two to meet.
On a CT scan, McGinley noticed that Stamp’s thigh muscles were compressing her veins during exercise. Her arteries were carrying blood down to her calves, but her veins weren’t carrying it out at the same rate. It caused swelling, pressure and pain in her calves.
“From there, I just put the engineering mechanics together: If she is exercising, she is exerting force and the artery is open, but the vein is now compressed. It’s a pressure mismatch. It’s a flow mismatch, and from an engineering standpoint, there has to be a consequence to that,” McGinley said.
The mechanics of exertion compartment syndrome had never been considered in this way. But, McGinley had to prove his theory. He temporarily blocked the muscle compressing Stamp’s vein and rescanned her legs. Not only had the pain disappeared, the compression had too. All McGinley had to do was figure out how to keep the muscle off the vein long term.
He doesn’t often work with Botox, but knew that it would temporarily block muscle function, perhaps preventing the muscle from compressing the vein. “So I called (Stamp’s) parents, and said don’t hang up on me, but I have a great idea.”
Stamp was McGinley’s first patient in the experimental treatment. She canceled her scheduled surgery and was back to playing soccer within a month. Two months later, she ran a half marathon. She’s now on the Nordic ski team at Williams College in Massachusetts.
“I’ve always been very active and competitive, so when compartment syndrome started to take that away, it was beyond frustrating. To have it fixed and be able to compete at my best has allowed me to live the lifestyle I crave. I fully attribute this to Dr. McGinley’s therapy,” Stamp said.
McGinley has since treated about 50 patients with this Botox therapy. They have flown to Casper from all over the country, often finding the procedure from the Internet or word of mouth. The first injections relieve symptoms an average of about three months. The second round of injections last about six months, and after three injections, many patients don’t need any more. About 75 percent of McGinley’s patients report positive outcomes.
“It makes a huge difference in their lives. Sports they could no longer do, they can now do on a competitive basis. Some thought their sporting careers were over and we were able to get them back out on the field or the court,” McGinley said.
McGinley has a patent pending on the procedure to protect patient safety. It’s highly technical and can pose serious risks if physicians aren’t properly trained. He is working with doctors at New York University, the Cleveland Clinic and a clinic in Colorado who want to start offering the treatment closer to patients who need it – patients like Tyler McIntosh, 19, of Jackson.
McIntosh, a sophomore at Stanford University, quit the triathlon club team and walked slowly across campus because of the pain in his lower legs. Like Stamp, he was scheduled for surgery before finding Dr. McGinley on the internet. He received his first injections in July and returned in August for a touch-up, required in about half of patients. But before coming back to Casper, he hiked 30 miles on a backpacking trip – something he wouldn’t have been able to do before McGinley’s treatment.
Dr. McGinley specializes in musculoskeletal radiology and sports medicine with an emphasis in non-surgical treatments at Wyoming Medical Center and Casper Medical Imaging. He is an adjunct faculty member at Stanford University in the Department of Radiology. Click here to learn more at about McGinley’s new therapy or watch this report from CBS New York which traveled to Casper this spring to report on McGinley’s treatment.
I got the inspiration to begin hula-hooping in April, from pictures and videos of one of my friends having a great time hooping. It looked like something fun and I wanted to learn. From the kids section at Target, I bought two hula-hoops, one for me and one for my 2-year-old daughter (she’ll grow into it, right?). I tried it when I got home and failed miserably to keep the hoop around my waist. The hoops now sit outside unless my daughter plays with them.
Cut to July.
I needed something healthy to start blogging about to contribute to our new hospital blog. Healthy has not been a lifestyle my family and I have dedicated ourselves to living. Don’t get me wrong. We have tried multiple times to change our lifestyle — from trying to cut out soda, buying an elliptical (which now is collecting dust), and growing a garden to have healthy fruits and vegetables. We have good intentions, just horrible follow-through.
This is what prompted my “Can fat girls hula-hoop” Google search. I needed healthy inspiration and maybe fat girls just couldn’t physically hula-hoop. But I wasn’t going to give up just yet.
The results of my Google search were surprising. Not only couldfat girls hula-hoop, it is actually an amazing weight-loss program that is growing in popularity. Even a few celebrities have joined the craze. Hooping for 10 minutes can burn about 100 calories, and you are using your core muscles to keep the hoop up. You do, however, have to use an adult hoop, not one from the kids aisle at Target. Adult, weighted hoops tend to work better for weight loss, and for beginners.
This was it. I was going to hula hoop!
I contacted a well-known Casper hooper, Natallie*. I had been told she could make the weighted hoops I needed. I told her I wanted to learn to hula-hoop and wanted mine to be pink and snazzy. Before making my custom hoop, she wanted me to try out different sizes and weights. She wanted to meet at a park here in town — during a music festival, a public place, with people – watching me learn!
Deep breaths. I was so not ready for that, my intention was to purchase the hoop and fail miserably in my backyard 100 times until I finally got it, but I went to meet with her anyway. Another first-time hooper was there too, which made me feel a little better. I stood with the hoop around my back as she explained the different weights of hoops, where you can hoop on your body (arms, legs, neck, etc.) and that bruising is normal!
Then she said, “Go ahead and spin it.”
I laughed out loud, but Natallie reassured me that it would be ok. “Here goes nothing.” I thought. I spun the hoop and down it went, sigh. She reminded me that posture is very important, and keeping my shoulders back and looking forward and up would help.
The more I tried, the better I got. I am by no means an expert, but I can at least keep the hoop up for a couple minutes. I ordered my hoop, which I should get within the next week or so.
I know that hooping isn’t going to be the only thing I need to do to shed pounds, but it may be the motivation I need to change other habits to help lose weight and become healthier.
Health Benefits of Hula Hooping
Ten minutes of hooping burns 100 calories.
Muscles used include abs, obliques, glutes and others when hooping on other parts of the body.
Use a weighted hula-hoop for added resistance for shaping and sculpting muscles.
Hula-hooping is less of a chore and more fun, so it can improve your mood.
Increases flexibility of the spine to help prevent back injuries.
*Natalie is a well-known Casper hooper who not only loves hula-hooping, she also makes each hoop especially for you! Proceeds from her hoop sales go to charities. If you are interested in purchasing a hula hoop find her on Facebook by joining the Casper Hoopers group page.
Valerie Hess is project coordinator for the Community Development Office. In her six-year career at Wyoming Medical Center, she has worked in quality and regulatory, nursing administration and administration. She found her passion in the Community Development Office and now leads the hospital’s social media platforms. She is pursuing her degree in business administration. She is the mother of a spunky 2-year-old daughter and considers herself a closet video-gamer.
The whitecaps in Seminoe Reservoir were rising 3 feet in the air, crashing against the adventure racers’ canoes. On the bright side, that brutal wind was at their backs, pushing them out of the channel.
Then, Team McGinley Innovations took the final turn onto open water and the wind opened up, blowing water into their faces. The whitecaps, now rising 5 feet high, crested the sides of their canoes. Though they needed to get across that reservoir, the wind pushed them to shore.
In moments like those, Dr. Joe McGinley often asks himself what the heck he’s doing. He was operating on just an hour or two of sleep. He’d already biked, trekked and climbed what seemed like halfway across Wyoming. He didn’t have to be there, crawling along Seminoe’s rocky beach, pulling his canoe on a rope, stopping to dump out the water that kept pouring inside. He was in the middle of a 9-hour slog across a reservoir that deposited him and his three teammates at another rocky beach every time they pushed off shore. And it was dark, nearly 11 p.m. before they made it off the water.
“Why? I ask that several times in a race,” said McGinley, a diagnostic radiologist at Casper Medical Imaging and Wyoming Medical Center and captain of Team McGinley Innovations which competed in the premier class of the Cowboy Tough adventure race July 18-21.
“If you just wanted a race to the finish, you’d do triathlons. You know what you’re going to get. This is adventure racing. Even though that was the hardest part of the race, it was definitely the most exciting part of the race.”
McGinley is back home in Casper now, having biked, hiked, rappelled and paddled more than 300 miles from Cheyenne to Mike Lansing Field in 3 ½ days in the state’s first Cameco and City of Casper Cowboy Tough Expedition Race.
You can follow his progress through the photos below, courtesy of Jacek Bogucki/Video Works who followed the team through the course. (Bogucki will be making a video of the race, and we’ll post parts on The Pulse when they are available.)
Here’s something to remember as you scroll through the photos below: McGinley and his team spent nearly 80 hours racing more than 300 miles across Wyoming, sleeping just 1 to 2 hours per night. They crossed the finish line in Casper around 10 a.m. Sunday.
Tuesday, McGinley was back at work seeing patients. How’s that for Cowboy Tough?
Building Team Wyoming
For next year’s Cowboy Tough race, Joe McGinley would like to build an all-Wyoming team for the elite class. He’ll also be looking for sponsors to support the team through training and the race.
For tips on training for your own adventure race, scroll down to the last photo.
So you want to be an adventure racer?
You’re in pretty good shape, maybe you’ve run a half marathon or two. You think you might be able to take your fitness racing to the next level.
Dr. Joe McGinley, an adventure racer for nearly 10 years, offers these tips for those thinking about adventure racing.
1. Hook up with an adventure veteran: That’s what McGinley did. McGinley is a member of Racing with Giants, an adventure racing community in California that puts together teams for races of all kinds – from shorter races, called sprints, to the multi-day affairs like Cowboy Tough.
He worked his way up through the ranks, going through their training programs. He’s now on the elite team, but when he started, he was the rookie. He competed in sprints with veteran racers and started signing up for longer events.
“ If you are an athlete or do outdoor activities, you can get in involved in this,” he said.
2. Learn to read a map: Orienteering and map reading are the hardest parts, McGinley said. Read books on mapping points and using a compass.
“That’s the main part of these races. Anybody can train, anybody can exercise and build their endurance, but navigation is what makes or breaks most teams,” McGinley said.
3. Build your confidence: Start with short races and work your way up to learn when something is or isn’t dangerous. Sprints also teach you about your own body – what it needs to keep going mile after mile.
Attention all volleyball, football and other fall athletes: Time is running out to get your sports physical. If your student athlete hasn’t yet got his fall sports physical, time is running out. They are available at Sage Primary Care for $35.
Physicians Assistant, Matthew Strand, of Sage Primary Care is now offering sports physicals for $35. A physical is required before participating in sports sanctioned by Natrona County School District.
Sage is located at 1020 S. Conwell St. in Casper. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Walk-ins are welcome, or call (307) 265-8300 to schedule an appointment.