Category Archives: injury

To Diet or Not To Diet? That Is The Question.

By: Larry Gruber, CSCS, MES

It’s now April.  A time when rain showers bring way to flowers.  A season that strikes fear in all Americans when we realize just how much we owe the government on April 15.  It’s the month of French Quarter Fest, Patriot’s Day, and the much-celebrated Boston Marathon.  And, it’s the month that we put our winter clothes in the back of the closet and bring those summer clothes front and center.  That simple act of pulling our bathing suits out of winter storage can be scarier than writing those checks to the state and federal governments.

This is the month when many of us begin scouring the web in search of that perfect diet to get us in shape for the summer.  However, does dieting really work?  I’ve had many clients who have told me about this year’s great, revolutionary diet or about a diet in Europe that is all the rage and how people are losing a lot of weight on these plans.  Let’s analyze for a moment why any diet actually causes people to lose weight.  Basically, a diet restricts caloric intake because diets, by their nature, limit the items we eat.  When there is a caloric deficit (less calories taken in versus calories expended in normal activity plus exercise), we lose weight.  Even the man who ate nothing but McDonald’s for two months lost weight because the foods he was permitted to eat was limited, so he ate less.  A plan like the Atkins Diet takes an entire macronutrient (carbohydrates) out of the picture.  So, your food choices become less and less.  When this happens, people will eat less and lose weight.

Now, let me ask you a question.  How many times have you been on a diet and then gained all the weight back?  The purpose of this question isn’t about bringing up past failures, but to show you that dieting itself doesn’t get us the end result for which we are searching.  When you lose weight on a diet, you lose both body fat and muscle.  Then, when you have achieved your goal, you go back on a regular eating plan and most of us end up gaining that weight back.  Realize, when this happens, we gain back fat, not muscle, which skews our body fat percentage even more so that we are, in reality, fatter than when we actually began the diet.  To prevent this from happening, we need to learn how to eat healthy on a day-to-day basis, and dieting doesn’t teach us this.  When we re-introduce the entire Whole Foods or Rouse’s grocery store back into our life, panic ensues because now our food options are unlimited again and most of us go back to our pre-diet habits.  Don’t diet.  Break those bad habits.

I know I’ve painted a fairly bleak picture.  However, allow me to clear away those cloudy skies for a sunnier view.  Think about what your ideal weight should be–the weight that, through proper diet and exercise, you can maintain without extreme measures for years to come.  Unfortunately, this means the size we were when we were 18 is probably not a realistic weight for us in middle-age (did I just call myself middle-aged?).  The next thing I always have my clients do is keep a food diary so that together, we can analyze what they are eating, how much they are eating, and when they are eating it.  Then, I like to introduce one or two changes at a time so that my clients may acclimate to those.  By slowly integrating change into their day-to-day diet, they gradually become healthier and slowly lose body fat.  A one to two pound weekly loss is what is recommended for healthy weight loss, and to keep that weight off.  Also, exercising, especially resistance training, will help maintain the integrity of your skin and muscle mass as you lose weight.

When analyzing a client’s food diary, I look for a myriad things.  To begin with, are you having a sensible breakfast to begin your day?  Are you eating periodically throughout the day–approximately every three to four hours?  Both of these will actually help to speed up your metabolism and help you burn more calories.  Are you limiting your intake of sodas, fried foods, cheeses, mayo, and fatty spreads and sauces?  Do you substitute cakes, cookies, and ice cream with yummy alternatives such as fresh fruit, yogurt, and crunchy vegetables?  Are you drinking plenty of water throughout the day?  And, are you giving yourself the pleasure of one “free day” per week?

Dieting (the verb), doesn’t work.  A healthy diet does.  I urge you to think of exercise and a proper diet as a welcomed life-style change.  Just as we have to brush our teeth every day to prevent cavities, we have to be consistent with working out and eating well in order to lose body fat and to keep it off.  So bring on those warm, sunny, humid southern days.  Unpack those bathing suits and book that Destin hotel room.  This Chicago boy is excited about summer.  And, if you need a little assistance in getting excited, just call me and let’s work together to get you looking great, feeling awesome, and moving like you’ve never moved before.


larrygruber-headshot2Physical fitness used to be just a pastime for me, until more and more friends began asking for my opinion concerning their fitness regimen.  In 1999, after a successful restaurant management career in some of Chicago’s finest restaurants, I became a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I’m also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

As a personal trainer, I strongly feel that exercise should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  I structure the workouts so they are fun, combining traditional weight training with functional training, cardio-respiratory training and flexibility training, all aimed at helping you look, feel and move better.  In order for the sessions to be successful, the personal trainer/client relationship must be a very interactive one, requiring constant feedback from both parties.  I want and need your opinions and suggestions.

After training for 13 years in Chicago, I made the move south in search of warmer weather.  I’m so excited to be part of such a vibrant city, and I can’t wait to try its world famous restaurants.  Thanks so much for welcoming me to New Orleans!!

Help, I’m Injured, and I Can’t Workout!

By: Ann Corwin Marix, ACE-CPT, LMT

In the midst of your workout, you feel it…a grind, a sharp pain, a pop…uh oh.  After you realize you’ve incurred an injury, your first thought is “UGH…I will need surgery…, there go my workouts for the next 6-8 weeks.”  That does not have to be the case!  I can say this as I speak, first hand, from my own experience.  My parents endowed me with bad knees as a trade off for a great personality.  I incurred a complete acl and partial meniscus tear in my right knee almost a decade ago and most recently suffered the exact injuries in my left knee.  The cliché holds true, if I only knew then what I know now, I would have had a better recovery because I would have continued to exercise.  A few modifications to your existing regimen is all you need to stay healthy and strong before, during, and after surgery.

First and foremost, do not ignore the injury as that will not make it go away and it will definitely make the injury worse.  Learn how to redefine your workout to create a ‘pre-hab’ game plan!  In the past, people have followed the rule of surgery first, physical rehabilitation second.  Research has shown the more we do prior to surgery in regard to maintaining our physical health and strength, the rate of recovery improves and, in some cases, surgery may be avoided.

Most injuries are isolated to a specific area, so injuring your knee will not affect you pumping out a chest press or some bicep curls, unless your knee is connected to your arm and if that is the case…well, there is no workout that can fix that! In fact, in the case of a knee injury, it is recommended to continue performing lower body exercises.  This will strengthen the musculature surrounding the knee, offering protection as well as prepare for better post surgery recovery.  It is important to know what exercises to do to assist in healing and which ones to avoid that could worsen the injury. So here are a few exercises to do and not to do with common injuries:


Avoid: Running, overhead lifting, leg press machine

Try:  Walking, stretching, protected ab exercises, recumbent bike, yoga, Pilates


Avoid: Repetitive overhead exercises or lifts with free weights

Try: Front shoulder raises, lateral raises


Avoid: Running frequently

Try: Cross training combined with cardio such as swimming or biking


Avoid: Repetitive impact such as running, jogging, and cardio dance

Try:  Upper body exercises, stationary bike, swimming, drawing letters of the alphabet with your toes


Avoid: Any exercise that recreates the pain, running, weighted lower extremity exercises

Try: Swimming, yoga, Pilates, hip/thigh/knee strengthening exercises.


Avoid: Yoga positions that put pressure on the neck, running

Try: Walking, cycling, Pilates, yoga


Avoid: Running, any lower body impact moves

Try: Elliptical trainer, bicycling

If you do have an injury it is important to talk to your doctor, personal trainer, or a physical therapist as they can recommend specific modifications, exercises, and stretches that allow you to continue your training regimen.  As always, you should consult a doctor prior to adding to or changing your workouts.

Injuries happen, but when they do, don’t let them keep you down. Instead, let them be the reason you educate yourself on how to work with them and how to avoid them in the future!

About the Author – Ann Corwin Marix

annAnn’s start in health and wellness was (and still is) as a masseuse after, believe or not, hiring a personal trainer.  See athletics, exercise and activity have always been a major part of my life; but over time life seemed to take over – work; raising a child; keeping a household took its toll and my “Me-time” seemed to disappear.  Long story short, what was going to be a time to make myself feel better (by getting a massage after some a personal training session) became an eye opening experience and drove me to obtain my massage license and help others in relieving pain from injuries, trauma, or simply everyday life. Wanting to get back into exercise, I became a Jazzercise instructor and then wanting a closer relationship with clients, followed that experience by becoming an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Certified TRX Instructor.  I love providing my clients with a unique and fun approach to help motivate and drive to obtain the results they want.


Preventing Injuries in Young Athletes


By: Jamie McIntyre, B.S. Exercise Science, ACE-CPT

There are an estimated 60 million children ages 6-18 that participate in some form of organized athletics, with 44 million participating in more than one sport. In a society where many children are addicted to technology such as cell phones, video games, TVs, etc., it is great to hear that athletics are still a way of life for millions of kids. Not only do sports teach physical skills, they also teach skills such as teamwork, leadership, and strategic thinking.

Despite the many benefits of playing sports, there are some risks. Estimates show 3.5 million children aged 14 and under receive medical treatment for sport-related injuries, while high-school athletes account for another 2 million a year. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases the most common sport injuries are due to accidents, poor training practices (such as overtraining) or using the wrong gear or equipment. The good news is that many of these injuries can be prevented. Below are seven tips to help prevent injuries in your young athlete:

  1. Play Safe – probably the most obvious one is to teach your young athlete how to play a sport safely. This includes teaching proper technique (such as diving for a ball) and wearing proper equipment.
  2. Allow time for recovery – make sure your young athlete has a rest day so that their muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen. Rest days can also help maintain a better balance between home, school and sports.
  3. Take breaks – along the same lines of taking a rest day, make sure your young athlete gets rest during practice and play. Taking breaks will reduce the likelihood of both injury and heat illness.
  4. Don’t “push through the pain” – If a young athlete is complaining of pain it is best to have them sit out a game or practice instead of letting them play and making it worse. Parents also need to be watching their young athlete for any signs of pain because they may not tell you about it. Watch for a change in their movement (limping), or wincing when making certain movements.
  5. Build Strength –Resistance training has been shown to increase both muscular strength and bone strength which will in turn decrease their chances of injury.
  6. Increase Flexibility – The International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) defines flexibility as: “the ability to produce and reproduce efficient static and dynamic movements at speed over an optimal pain-free range of motion.” In basic terms, flexibility is the “freedom to move.” If a young athlete’s ability to move freely is compromised, the likely outcome will be inefficient movement, decreased athletic performance and injury.
  7. Enforce an “off-season” – Young athletes who play sports year-round are more likely than others to experience overuse injuries because they aren’t giving their bodies a chance to rest and recover. Encourage your athletes to take at least three months off of a particular sport each year. Have them mix it up and play different sports during the year so that the same muscle groups are not being used continuously, leading to overuse injuries.

Overtraining is one of the most common causes of sports-related injuries. According to sports medicine researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center young athletes should not spend more hours than their age in training during a given week. Those who did not follow this recommendation were 70% more likely to incur serious overuse injuries than other types of injuries. If an athlete does experience pain or other symptoms that might indicate an injury, seek medical attention immediately.

At Ascension Fitness our philosophy is simple: Provide our athletes with the most effective, up-to-date education and training techniques to improve performance and prevent injuries. We are dedicated to changing the lives of young athletes in a positive environment.  Call us at 504-304-6205, email, or click here: to learn more about our Sports Performance Camp!

Jamie McIntyre, B.S. Exercise Science, ACE-CPT

meJamie McIntyre is the Marketing Coordinator and a personal trainer at Ascension Fitness. She came from San Diego, California where she recently completed a Master’s degree in Business Administration at San Diego State University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Dickinson State University. Jamie received a softball scholarship to play at Dickinson State University. During her time at Dickinson State she completed an internship as a student athletic trainer which led to her passion of fitness.  Jamie loves training, softball, ringette, and watching movies.


mygroupfit. (2008, February 6). Flexibility Development in Young Athletes.

Stop Sports Injuries. (2010). Teaching Kids Safe Ways to Participate in Sports.


What is ITBS and how can you prevent it?

By Jamie McIntyre

ITBS, or Iliotibial Band Syndrome, is one of the most common overuse injuries that many active people (mostly runners and cyclists) suffer from. Those suffering from ITBS will complain about pain on the outside of their knee. The pain will typically come on at a certain point in their workout and then worsen as time passes. This pain usually goes away at rest. In its later stages, the same pain may begin with other, less stressful activities, such as stair climbing or even walking.

Now some of you may be wondering what exactly is the iliotibial (IT) band and how can you prevent ITBS? Your IT Band is a tough group of fibers that run along the outside of the thigh. It begins at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shin bone just below the knee joint. The IT band serves as both a shock absorber and a lateral stabilizer for the knee and hip.

ITBS is usually caused from tight IT Bands, so the best thing you can do to prevent ITBS is to stretch. To stretch your IT Band (shown in the picture below) stand tall with your right leg crossed over left. Lean to the right (towards front leg) until you feel a stretch along the side of left leg. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

itbs stretch

The other thing you can do is foam roll for self-myofascial release (to learn more about why you should foam roll click here). To foam roll your IT Band (pictured below) lie on your side with a foam roller positioned horizontally under your hip. Put your forearm on the ground and lift your legs up if you can. Then slowly roll down the outside of your leg to just above the knee and back. Repeat this motion 4-5 times.

itbs roll


Stretching and foam rolling will definitely help prevent ITBS but if you do develop IT band syndrome, rest, ice and anti-inflammatory are the best treatments.

Arthritis? Really?

By: Larry Gruber, CSCS, MES

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Larry Gruber, and I’m a new trainer at Ascension Fitness. I’m 43 and have been a certified personal trainer for the past 13 years. I’ve run 3 marathons (Chicago Marathon—Personal Best: 3:31) and have worked out regularly for 18 years. The winter of 2010 changed my life forever.

That January, my body systemically and progressively began to revolt. I became tight and inflamed from head to toe and lost range of motion. My hands began to cramp while doing simple things like wringing out a sponge or trying to wash my back. They were so weak and sensitive that I couldn’t shake hands without wincing. I had trouble opening up jars of food, and I couldn’t even do a pull up or hand my clients their dumbbells or rack their weights. My feet ached. I had pain behind my left knee and it hurt to walk.

Each day exhausted me and mornings were especially painful. Getting out of bed was torture. I would sit on the edge of my bed, anticipating the pain that would inevitably ensue when my feet hit the floor–pain and stiffness as I hobbled to the bathroom every morning. Climbing into bed was a bigger adventure because my hip flexors were so tight that I could no longer lift my knee to the mattress. I was reduced to doing a face-plant onto the bed, reaching over to the other side, and then pulling myself up the rest of the way.

By April, I was exhausted from being in constant pain. After four months, six doctors and tons of money flying out of my wallet, I was finally diagnosed: psoriatic arthritis. The flood works began right there is the doctor’s office. What kind of disease is this? How am I going to be a personal trainer if I can’t even move? Arthritis? Really? Yes, really. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues. This leads to joint inflammation and loss of range of motion, and permanent joint damage will result if left untreated.

There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but the condition can be controlled with medicine. The doctor outlined all of the medical options for me and explained that Enbrel would be my best bet. Enbrel, known as a disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug, suppresses the immune system. Within the first week, I noticed relief.

It’s been over three years since my first Enbrel injection. I began to feel much- needed relief within the first week after the initial injection and very slowly began exercising again. I now have returned to a regular workout schedule, but my attitude about working out and personal training is different. Do what you can. Push yourself hard. And listen; really listen, to your body. Know when enough is enough. The experience of being diagnosed and of living with a chronic disease has taught me to be the best I can be and to have realistic goals. No longer do I want to look like that cover model on the latest fitness magazine; now I want to live an active and pain-free life. We should exercise so that we can perform our activities of daily living with greater ease–looking good in the mirror is a by-product of that hard work, not the main reason for the hard work. This is one lesson I learned the winter of 2010, and a lesson I try to instill in my clients.

My dream of running an international marathon may be gone, but at least I can get in and out of bed without the face-plant. I can open up jars of peanut butter and can even whip out a dozen pull ups, though my grip isn’t what it used to be. I don’t think I’ll ever sprint on the treadmill again either, but I am enjoying my leisurely 4 mile runs. And, yes, really, this personal trainer was diagnosed arthritis when he was 41.

Female Athletes and ACL Tears

By: Jamie McIntyre B.S. Exercise Science, ACE-CPT

Did you know that female athletes are four to six times more likely to tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) than male athletes participating in the same sport? As a former softball player, I have seen many of my teammates tear their ACL. One in particular was running to first base and stutter stepped because her stride was off, meaning had she kept running the way she was she would have stepped over first base so she had to stutter step to fix her stride to land on first. This small stutter step, which many of us had done in the past, caused her ACL to tear. There was no contact on the knee just the stutter step. When we think about injuries we usually think about the injury occurring from some sort of contact whether it is being hit by another player or falling to the ground. This isn’t always the case; these injuries can happen at any time such as in the case of my friend and her stutter step. So, why does this happen?

Why are women so much more prone to injuries than males?

  1. Anatomical Structure – when females go through puberty our hips widen to prepare for carrying a baby. This results in a larger Q-angle (Quadriceps angle) which is the angle from the hips to the knees. This increased angle puts stress on the knee and puts it at a greater risk to injury.
  2. Quad Dominance – Females are more quad dominant, which means we rely on our quads to stabilize the knee where males recruit their hamstrings first. This quad contraction pulls on the lower leg and creates a shear stress on the ACL.
  3. Ligament Dominance – our muscles do not sufficiently absorb the ground reaction forces when we land from a jump so our knees tend to buckle in and we rely on the joints and ligaments to absorb the force of landing. High amounts of this force over a period time can results in ligament rupture.
  4. Increased Flexibility – Females tend to have more joint laxity particularly in the knee, ankle, and elbow joint. Several studies have shown that joint laxity and hyperextension significantly increase the risk of ACL injury in female subjects.

What steps can we take to prevent injuries?

  • Core Strength – our cores are the foundation of our bodies, you can’t build a house without laying the foundation first. Building core strength will allow the female athlete to stabilize the core which will help stabilize the rest of the body.


  • Strengthen Posterior Chain – strengthening the back side of the body (hamstrings and glutes) will help the female athlete overcome the quad dominance and allow them to recruit their hamstrings to stabilize the knee. Performing exercises such as deadlifts, bridges, and hamstring curls should be included in every female athletes training program.


  • Proper landing technique – once the female athlete has strengthened the posterior chain they should be taught how to land properly. Exercises should include jumping and landing without the knee collapsing inward. Plyometric exercises are a great addition to a female athletes training program (as long as it is taught with proper technique).

Adding these exercises into the female athletes training program will reduce the risk of injury as well as improve their performance on the field or court.

P.S.  Don’t get discouraged if you or someone you know does get injured, because you can always come back. My friend who tore her ACL stutter stepping went on to play for Team Canada in the Olympics!