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3 Beach Exercises For Everyone

It’s beach season, and most of us have been pretending to prepare ourselves both physically and mentally for stepping out onto the sand and not flashing back to the extra slice/ entire pumpkin pie we ate last winter.

Even if you haven’t met your goals, the beach is a great place to keep reaching for and maintaining your ideal fitness level this the summer. No matter your desired intensity, there are a variety of beach friendly exercises to suit your personal needs. Here are three exercises that benefit from this beautiful location.


Running in soft sad expends 1.5 times the energy it takes to run on a road or path. Due to the sinking of every step, more effort is required to propel you forward. It also promotes increased stability and overall strengthening in the lower half of your body.


  • To utilize sometimes neglected inner and outer thigh muscles, run in an extended zigzag pattern on the beach. Running at angles and slightly changing directions will challenge your body. Plus, it won’t get boring.
  • If running in the soft sand becomes too much for you, alternate between soft sand and hard wet sand to give yourself a break while keeping your heart rate up.
  • If you have problems with weak ankles be sure to wear shoes that meet your support needs. Otherwise, kick off those shoes and get going. Running barefoot will strengthen your ankle stability and engage the muscles in your feet.

best beach exercises

Circuit Training

Circuit training is also another great way to take advantage of what’s around you.

  • Develop a series of exercises that keep you moving.

For example:

10 walking lunges: 10 pushups: 10 walking lunges: 10 crunches/situps: 10 plyo lunges (jumping in place between individual lunges: plank hold for 30 seconds and rest. Repeat in other direction.

  • Use what’s around you. Do you see a bench, a hill, some stairs. These are great tools to integrate into your workout.



Pilates is a great no hassle way to work out on the beach. Promoting body awareness and control, pilates creates a lean strong body through basic conscious movement and controlled breathing (exhale with effort, inhale on return) while engaging your core. Pilates’ exercises are meant to be modified to fit the fitness level of an individual, so work at your own pace.

Some basic exercises to build on:

  • Beginning on your back with legs bent and feet in line with your sits bones, place your hands behind your head (elbows wide) to support it. Keeping a neutral pelvis, exhale and use your stomach muscles to pull your belly button in and raise your shoulder blades off the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Rest a moment and Repeat.

  • Exhale again lifting your shoulder blades, keeping your shoulder blades off the ground, pulse 10 times with small contractions of your stomach muscles and release. Rest and Repeat.
  • After release, keep your back neutral, raise your legs and bend them 90 degrees. With arms out for stability
    only, keeping yourshoulder blades on the ground and legs together, move your legs from side to side
    while engaging your abs 10 times and return to neutral. Rest andRepeat.
  • From the same relaxed position on your back, bring your feet together and raise your hips off the floorcreating a straight
    line between shoulders and knees and hold for 10 seconds.From here you can straighten one leg at a time keeping your
    thighs together 5 times each leg. Rest and Repeat.

Another fantastic thing to do, especially if you have trouble with motivation or need a little guidance, is to join a class. There are tons of groups that meet out on the beach for runs, circuit training, pilates, and much more. Look up what’s going on locally and find a class that’s right for you.

Tips For Beach Workouts

  • Avoid peak hours. Do your workouts in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is not at its hottest. Anywhere between 11am and 2pm can be dangerous when it comes to dehydration and exhaustion.
  • Bring a water bottle. You will be sweating if you’re doing it right, replenishing your body with water will keep you from feeling awful or getting sick. Make sure you’re drinking every 10 to 15 minutes to keep up. Plus you can use it as extra weight in your workout activities. Crunches anyone?
  • Wear sunscreen. Exposure to the sun can be incredibly harmful to your body. We do need the vitamin D it gives us, but we don’t want damaged leathery skin that can turn cancerous later on. The tan is just not worth it.
  • Warm up before anything else. Take a short walk to get your muscles warm and stretch them out to avoid strain or injury.

Now you have no excuse. Beaches are not just for tanning and light reading anymore. Get active, take care of yourself and have fun!


For more great exercises and fitness tips visit Advanced Physical Medicine.

3 Most Ridiculous Summer Myths

Summer is in the air! Finally. With summer comes opportunity for health and wellness. Ever since you were a kid you’ve probably heard ‘wives’ tales’ of summer. Today we’re debunking three ridiculous summer myths.

1. Farmer’s markets are expensive.

Farmers Market Costs
The truth is that farmer’s markets are CHEAPER than most grocery stores. It’s really a simple business model. Cut out the middleman, and there are fewer people to take a cut of the profits. Plus, customers travel further and often on specific days of the week to find farmer’s markets, cutting down on the costs it takes to run a brick and mortar grocery store every few miles. That being said, there are ways you can cut down your costs even further when visiting your local farmer’s market. Here are three:

Try something new - The concept of supply and demand remains relevant at farmer’s markets. So, if everyone is looking for the typical salad bland, I mean blend, of romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers, chances are the prices will be higher. Instead grab something unusual like romanesco or dandelion greens.

Think outside the ‘cash’ box - Farming is older than cash. And some farmers are still open to the idea of bartering. If you build websites, do taxes or are a handyman, your local farmer might need your services. Why not strike up a conversation and offer a trade?

Purchase in quantity - Buying in bulk during peak season means plenty of bounty during off season. For example, nabbing a couple cases of tomatoes doesn’t have to mean Caprese salads for every meal. Whip up some simple marinara, can or freeze it and have it for use all winter long.

2. Pee on your friend’s jellyfish sting.

What is a jellyfish sting, anyway? Let’s examine the biology of a jellyfish. First, there are certain kinds of cells on the surface of their tentacles called ‘cnidocytes’. Within each cell is a tube filled with venom. Attached to each cell is a microscopic hair that, when disturbed, triggers the release of the venom. This venom lands on the skin of prey, or an unfortunate ocean vacationer.

Peeing on the wound can actually make things worse. Most likely, when the sting occurred, there were a few tentacles left on the victim’s skin. The first thing to do is get rid of these as to not make things worse. That doesn’t mean use your fingers to pick them off; you’ll only get stung on your hand too! And that certainly doesn’t mean urinating on the wound, the salt content in your excretion can cause the undisturbed venom to release. And sure, once that process is over, a super-concentrated urine concoction could (maybe) help (a little bit). But unless the urinator is severely dehydrated, it’s not going to do any good. Instead, keep a small bottle of white vinegar in your beach bag. That’ll help curb the pain if things go awry at the beach. If no vinegar is available, splash some seawater on the wound and skip the golden shower.

3. Poison ivy rashes are contagious.

You’d have to be VERY intentional to spread a poison ivy rash to another person. That is, you’d have to immediately, upon coming into contact with the poison ivy oil, furiously rub the oil from your skin on to theirs. Sounds far-fetched, and it is. In fact, the rash doesn’t typically show up until two to three days after exposure. So, the infectious oils are most likely washed clean by that point. That delayed reaction is what spurs this summer myth. The illusion that the rash is spreading lends to the theory that the rash is also contagious. Take a shower. Wash your clothes. You’ll get over it eventually.

There is no ‘cure’ for poison ivy aside from your body’s natural healing process. But there are some home remedies that may help ease the pain. Lemon juice, baking soda, tea and oatmeal can all help relieve the relentless itching you’ll encounter in the several days following a poison ivy encounter.

Stay fit, healthy and happy this summer. Enjoy your fun in the sun.

Taking Care Of Your Back

Your back enables you to do many of the activities and motions that you need to do to function daily. It is very important that you take certain precautions and steps to ensure that your back remains healthy and strong. But, the good thing is that it's relatively easy to properly care for your back. If you have suffered any injuries to your back, then it's even more important to take steps to bring your back "back" to it's optimal functional state.

Routine Back Care
While regular visits to your chiropractor might not be practically or financially feasible, there are many things that you can incorporate into your daily routine that will help you take care of your back.

Yes, your mother was right...again. Sitting up straight and maintaining good posture while standing are two effective and inexpensive ways to strengthen and protect your back. The elongation of the spine helps you to maintain your balance, when you slouch then other muscles have to help which can cause back pain, headaches and more. So, while you're sitting at your desk at work, sit straight up with your chest pushed upward to help you maintain proper seated posture. While standing, make sure your feet are planted flat on the ground and lift your shoulders and straighten your spine.

Don't Light Up
Most people know that smoking causes problems, but many don't know that lighting up that cigarette is bad for your back as well. Because smoking depletes the oxygen in your blood, it deprives your muscles, and spine. A lack of oxygen can cause back and spine issues later on.

Sleep well & Don't Stress Out
Sleep rejuvenates your mind and spirit, but it also does wonders for your back. But, the way you sleep can cause you back problems if you're not careful. Having the right mattress and head and neck support while sleeping can prevent back pain in the morning. Beds that are too soft cause your spine to curve awkwardly in sleep, putting pressure on the discs and spinal cord and bunching up a flat pillow can strain your neck. Make sure you have a relatively firm mattress and make sure that your pillow supports your head in alignment with your neck during sleep. Stress also plays a detrimental role in the health of your back. Stress causes consistent contraction of muscles around your back and neck that can lead to back pain. Getting enough sleep, exercise and managing job, family and other stressors can do wonders for your back.

If You've Suffered a Back Injury
If you have undergone a back injury or trauma to your back, it is important to seek professional care. Stop normal physical activity, avoid lifting and apply hot or cold packs to the area as need be. Make sure that you continue to follow up with your health care provider so that a back injury doesn't progress into something more serious.

Other Factors That Affect Your Back
Your weight and diet can also affect your back. It is important to maintain a healthy weight so that your back doesn't have to work double time. Maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough exercise will help you to keep your back strong.


Nisha has been writing about injury advice for the last few years now. She enjoys reading health and news articles from and other similar resources.


Ingrown Nails Can be a Serious Condition-Even for Major League Baseball Players

Washington Nationals player, Bryce Harper, missed playing time last week due to an ingrown toenail.  He even made headlines when he posted a picture of his toe and the removed toenail on Twitter.  Many people may think that it is odd that he would be sidelined for such a condition.  Many might view ingrown nails as a minor problem.  However, an ingrown toenail can cause significant pain, and if it progresses on to an infection, serious problems can occur.

Ingrown nails can be caused by a variety of things:  genetics, trauma or injury, shoe gear, and the person's foot structure or the way they walk.  Ingrown toenails in athletes are common from bumping the toe with kicking, running, sliding, or when another player or object lands on the toe (example, jumping).

If the ingrown portion of nail cuts into the skin next to it, this often leads to infection.   An infected, ingrown toenail will be red, hot, swollen, and often have pus or drainage.  Additionally, there is typically significant pain.

As with the case of Bryce Harper, a physician must anesthetize the toe and remove the ingrown portion of nail.  This allows the cut in the skin and related infection to clear up and heal.  Oral or topical antibiotics, soaking, bandaging, and over the counter pain relievers are also used with the procedure to heal the toe.  The best way to speed up healing after the procedure is to rest, elevate, and wear shoes that do not rub on the area.

If you have this condition, please call Advanced Physical Medicine to get an appointment with Dr. Bender.  Dr. Bender finished her surgical residency training in 2001, and she has been practicing and teaching podiatric students and residents since then.  She has offices in Oak Park (708-763-0580) and Chicago/63rd St. (773-776-3166).


3 Healthy Picnic Recipes for Memorial Day

Memorial Day has long been the unofficial beginning of summer. The first warm 3-day weekend of the year. The first day you can break out those white shoes. And, like so many other American holidays, Memorial Day means food, and lots of it. Here are three healthy, and delicious alternatives to your old picnic standbys

Healthy memorial day recipesCourse 1: Farro and Spring Vegetable Salad with Feta

This is a killer seasonal salad. Take advantage of the bounties of spring and even include the Italian superfood farro.


For the parsley-mint dressing:

  • 2 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 bunch baby carrots peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 bunch asparagus, very thinly sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 to 3 oz. tender pea tendrils
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups farro
  • 2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 cup English peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup diced Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch strips
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 oz. French feta cheese, crumbled

To make the dressing, in a blender, combine the parsley leaves (leave the stems behind), mint, garlic, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and half of the olive oil. Start the blender on low, then rapidly increase the speed to high while slowly adding the remaining olive oil. Adjust consistency by adding olive oil. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

To make the salad, in a large saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and thyme, stirring often, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the dry farro and cook, stirring, until the grains are lightly toasted and coated with the oil, about 2 minutes. Add 10 cups water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the farro is tender and just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Drain the farro and transfer to a baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, have ready a bowl of ice water. Bring a saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the English peas and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to the ice water, then drain and dry on paper towels.

In a large bowl, combine the farro, mint, diced lemon, sugar snap peas and English peas and toss with 1/2 cup of the parsley-mint dressing. In a separate large bowl, combine the fennel, carrots, pea tendrils and asparagus and toss with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/4 cup olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the farro onto a large platter. Arrange the fennel mixture on top and sprinkle with the cheese. Serves 6 to 8.

Healthy Memorial Day BurgersCourse 2: Fresh Salmon Burgers

Fire up the grill, but skip the fatty beef patties. Try these lean, omega-3-rich fresh salmon burgers. They’re quick and easy!


  • 1 slice white bread
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill or thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sour Cream

First, soak bread in milk until soft, about three minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop salmon, and place in a food processor. Pulse several times until roughly chopped. Add bread and milk, salt, 2 tablespoons of thyme, Dijon mustard and black pepper. Pulse several times until well blended.

Form salmon mixture into 4 to 6 patties, and place on a lightly oiled plate. Grill burgers over medium-hot coals (or on a grill pan over medium-high heat) 3 to 5 minutes or until done. Serve on a bun with sour cream and a light sprinkle of fresh dill.

Healthy Memorial Day DessertsCourse 3: Peach Angel Dessert

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert. Try this lighter fruit-centric gem at your Memorial Day gathering.


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup peach, apricot or orange gelatin powder
  • 1 loaf-shaped angel food cake (10-1/2 ounces)
  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 cups sliced peeled fresh or frozen unsweetened sliced peaches, thawed

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in water and corn syrup until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in gelatin until dissolved. Cool to room temperature, stirring several times.

Cut angel food cake into nine slices. Line an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish with the slices; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in milk. Set aside 1/3 cup of the whipped topping for garnish. Fold remaining whipped topping into cream cheese mixture; spread over cake. Top with peaches. Pour gelatin mixture over peaches.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Cut into squares. Top each piece with about 1 teaspoon of reserved whipped topping. Serves 15.

Share these goodies with your friends and family this Memorial Day. Not only will you have something uniquely delicious, your potluck creations will be uniquely healthy.

5 Benefits of a Good Night’s Rest

benefits of sleepingThe elusive ‘good night’s sleep’ is something we all long for. But, of course, life often gets in the way. Work, kids, booze and caffeine can be brutal enemies of the sandman. While you may know the reason for your lack of sleep, you might not know what you’re robbing yourself of. Here are five benefits of a good night’s sleep.

You’ll stay skinny.

The weight loss industry is a HUGE money-maker. But what if staying slim was as simple as sleeping well? Meet leptin and ghrelin--hormones that regulate your appetite and, more importantly, hormones disrupted by lack of sleep. That means if you don’t get enough shut-eye, you’ll be reaching for extra snacks all day long and increasing your waistline.

You’ll be less stressed.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body goes on the defensive. In other words, you’re physically stressed. A body under stress means higher blood pressure which eventually can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In a cruel twist of fate, that stress can also make it harder to sleep. Exercise and various relaxation techniques are stress-busters that can help you rest.

You'll look more attractive

Beauty sleep is no myth. In 2010, the British Medical Journal published a study in which they photographed people in two different states: sleep deprived and well-rested. A large public panel reviewed the photos and overwhelmingly rated the well-rested more attractive. That shouldn’t come as a surprise; we’ve all looked in the mirror after a short night’s sleep and been less than happy with what we see. The good news? Your skin recovers quickly. So, get some rest tonight, and you’ll see the results tomorrow.

You'll be a winner

If you’re an athlete--even just a weekend warrior--sleep is hugely important. While you’re resting, muscle tissue that you’ve broken down through exercise is rebuilt even stronger. So, get up early and pump that iron, but get to bed early too and your body will thank you for it.

You'll remember things clearly

While your body is resting, your brain is doing anything but. Something called ‘memory consolidation’ happens while you sleep. In other words, your mind is processing memories and making links between events that will help you recollect all you’ve learned and experienced throughout the day. Take something like learning a foreign language. Researchers have found that language learners who get plenty of sleep have greater success. In a way, you’ll be involuntarily ‘practicing’ the language in slumber. Talk about multitasking!

‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ say the perpetually tired and always busy. Well, a good night’s sleep is definitely not a waste of time. It makes the awake parts of life that much better.

Flip Flop Danger!

As the warm months approach, many of us want to get out of our stuffy shoes and socks and enjoy our sandals.  This is a great idea, and sandals are a fine option if they offer support and cushioning to the feet.  However, flip flops pose many dangers to the feet, as they offer no support.  Some podiatric studies have found that they can be as bad or worse than going barefoot due to the amount of pressure that the foot gets when wearing them.  Interestingly, our toes often grab the bottoms of the flip flops to keep them on when walking.  This can worsen toe deformities such as hammer toes but can also cause irritation of the surrounding areas like the plantar plate, capsules, and nerves
going to and around our toes.

Flip flops lead to many dangers during the warm months of the year.  First, they offer no support of the arch or the rearfoot (heel).  This can lead to tendon pain (tendonitis), muscle soreness (myositis), or heel and arch pain (typically, plantar fasciiits) because the foot is not properly supported.  Second, because of the lack of support and
stability, people are more prone to twisting the foot or ankle when wearing flip flops.  This leads to ankle sprains and even fractures, or broken bones.

Finally, flip flops can get caught under our feet or objects (playground equipment, etc), and this can lead to cuts, sores, lacerations, and serious
injuries to the skin and underlying structures.

Therefore, when buying spring and summer shoes, it is important to make smart choices.  Look for a
supportive sandal that you cannot bend or twist.  There should be some cushioning and support for the arch on the bottom.  Additionally, straps that do not allow the foot to move around when walking are essential for support.  Finally, it is important to make sure that none of the areas are rubbing on the foot and causing irritation.

Dr. Bender is a podiatrist for Advanced Physical Medicine and practices at the Oak Park and Chicago/63rd locations.  She
loves helping people make good choices for their feet!  Dr. Bender has been in practice since 2001, when she finished her podiatric residency at North Chicago VA, St. Joesph Hospital, and St. Anthony Hospital.  To schedule your appointment with her, call 708-763-0580 or 773-776-3166.

3 Tips to Prevent Foot and Ankle Injuries this Summer

As the weather improves and temperatures rise, many of us are eager to get
outside for running, biking, walking, or to enjoy a variety of outdoor sports.
Being active is a great way to keep our bodies healthy.

However, it is important to keep some key things in mind to prevent foot and ankle injuries that could hinder our summer fun!

1.  Proper Shoes

It is essential to wear supportive shoe gear when exercising.  The shoes should not be bendable or twistable and that the heel portion should be rigid.  Sandals, flip flops, and
shoes without a back do not provide enough support and can cause serious
injuries.  Wearing these does not allow for the foot to be supported and does
not adequately control abnormal rear foot motion which can lead to

2.  Stretching

Stretching is part of a healthy work out program.  Before exercising, it is essential to stretch.  Beginning a run or a game of volleyball without stretching can lead to tendon injuries, especially. For ideas about what stretches would be best for you, Dr. Bender or the
Advanced Physical Medicine Physical Therapy Department can outline a plan that
would be good for your exercise plans.  Additionally, we can train you on how to
perform the stretches.

3.  Hydration

Drinking enough water keeps our bodies properly hydrated and nourished so that we can exercise longer and more effectively.

Finally, if you do injure yourself while exercising, it is important to make a podiatry appointment to get your foot or ankle injury treated immediately.  Dr. Bender practices at the Oak Park and 63rd St./Chicago locations of Advanced Physical Medicine.  She has been in practice since 2001 and treats all conditions of the foot and ankle.  Please call 708-763-0580 or 773-776-3166 for your appointment.

5 Ways To Tell If You Have A Bad Personal Trainer

Reasons why you have a Bad Personal TrainerIn the never-ending quest towards fitness, a little guidance and encouragement can be a huge help. That’s exactly what a great personal trainer can provide. But not all PTs are created equal. In fact, many trainers are frighteningly under-certified and under-experienced. Beware of these 5 personal trainer warning signs.

1. Your trainer pressures you to purchase vitamins and supplements.

You deal with it at your barber or hairstylist: shelves of overpriced hair products subtly suggested each time you get you coiffure maintenanced. But that’s only once every month or two. When you’re spending a couple days a week with a trainer, the last thing you need is pressure to spend more money on the latest fitness formula. You’ll discover this a lot in the huge gym franchises because the trainers themselves are getting pressure from their bosses. Still, it’s not something you need to deal with. Sure, your trainer can and should make recommendations if necessary, but the hard sell is obnoxious.

2. Your trainer does anything besides train you.

That means no daydreaming while their spotting you. That means no scoping out eye candy across the room. That means no phone calls. That means no chit chat with other trainers. You’re spending good money, and you deserve complete and undivided attention.

3. Your trainer doesn’t keep records.

This is a big one. Simply put: a good trainer will keep track of everything. Your trainer should be toting a clipboard and jotting down what exercises you did, how much weight you lifted, how many reps/sets you did and how your measurements are changing. Like a chef developing a brand new recipe, if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, how will you get the best results?

4. Your trainer uses cookie-cutter workout plans.

Everybody is different, so is every body. Some of us are shorter, taller, fatter, leaner, more flexible or stiffer than our fellow fitness hopefuls. Thus, every workout plan needs to be specifically tailored for the individual. If your trainer immediately prescribes a regiment without getting to know the specifics of you and your body, it is time to find a new trainer. At 75-plus dollars an hour, it is not too much to ask that your trainer design a workout program just for you.

5. Your trainer disrespects the non-personally trained

Not everyone needs a personal trainer. There is plenty of room at the gym for everyone, including those who aren’t paying a professional. If your trainer insists that you bogart multiple machines or weights at one time, limiting what’s available to others, chances are that disrespect will eventually trickle down to you. Of all people, someone who works in a gym should know proper gym etiquette.

There is absolutely no reason you should put up with a less-than-awesome personal trainer. If that guy or gal you’re paying to push you to the next level of fitness isn’t the right fit, find someone else. There are plenty of great ones out there.

3 Deadly Medical Practices of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Hippocrates wrote his ‘oath’ for doctors sometime around 500 B.C. The oath, still taken in some capacity by 98% of American medical school graduates, declares an intent for honest and ethical medical practice. To be sure, most medical professionals, then and now, have good intentions. But good intentions aren’t always enough. Obviously, medicine has come a long way since the Greek innovators of millenniums past, but it’s even come a long way in the last century. Here are 3 deadly medical practices of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

1. Cocaine

Medical Solutions of 19th centurySherlock Holmes would have loved the plethora of powder and rolled up dollar bills at Studio 54. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famously brilliant storybook detective often injected cocaine to cure his boredom between cases. The difference? In the days of disco, the drug was definitely outlawed, but in the late 19th century it was touted as a medical marvel.

South American natives had been chewing leaves of the coca plant for centuries, but the concentrated powdered version we know as cocaine didn’t hit the streets until about 1880. But once it arrived on the scene, it took the medical world by storm. Sigmund Freud was obsessed with the drug. In 1884, he wrote a 70 page love note to the Bolivian marching powder called “Uber Coca”, claiming prominently, of all things, that it was a perfect cure for morphine addiction. Doctors used cocaine to treat stomach aches, anxiety, asthma and even tuberculosis. It was sold in drinks, ointments, even margarine. Then there was the uber popular, Vin Mariani, a Bordeaux wine that contained 6 milligrams of cocaine in every ounce.

Of course, now we know how dangerous the drug really is. It’s infamously taken the lives of thousands, maybe millions, including John Belushi, Chris Farley and Whitney Houston.

2. Lobotomy

Lobotomy from 19th centuryFrom inception in 1935, through the heyday in the 40s and into rapid decline in the mid-50s, this brain shredding procedure claimed around 70,000 victims in a short period of time. Lobotomy is a word of Greek origin, a compound noun combining ‘lobe’ and ‘cut/slice’. And that’s a pretty literal definition. Essentially, doctors took long metal picks, jammed them into the patient’s eye to get at the brain, and pounded it in with a mallet to scrape away parts of the frontal lobe of the brain.

Short lived as it was, the surgery was thought to be a solution to a wide range of mental illnesses, from super serious conditions like schizophrenia to mild depression.

We know now how brutal this procedure is, but unfortunately it was too little too late. Even when the lobotomy lost favor in the 1950s, it was less about the danger and more about the introduction of easier-to-use antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.

3. Soothing Syrup

Southing Syrup for Medical PurposeIn the 19th century and early 20th century, parents just couldn’t be bothered with fussy children. The solution? Drug ‘em up. Enter ‘soothing syrups’, a preposterous blend of narcotics designed just for the little ones. Take the popular Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup; each ounce contained 65 mg of pure morphine.

Sure, the soothing syrups worked. They also killed children. The worst behaved toddlers were consequently often the most drugged...and most often killed. Medical professionals no doubt blamed the children’s behavior and death on mental illness or the likes. But the truth is, these kids were just acting like kids, and overdosed because of it.

In 1910, the ridiculousness came to an end. The New York Times published a whistleblowing article listing the ingredients of soothing syrups: morphin sulphate, chloroform, morphine hydrochloride, codeine, heroin, powdered opium and/or cannabis indica. Nap time!

Medical advances keep on coming. Who knows? In another hundred years, we’ll be examining the crazy medical practices!


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