The Full Woodsy – Race Report

September 23rd, 2013

The Woodsy is a trail race series sponsored by Muscle Milk that returned to Murphy Hanrehan Park for it’s third running in September 2013. There are two available distances, the Half-Woodsy, approximately 5 miles; and the Full Woodsy, approximately 9 miles, which was the distance undertaken by the author and the subject of this report.

Logistics. The race organizer specified no parking at the race site, which is located at the trail head for the horseback/walking/running and single track mountain bike trails. Ample parking was available at a nearby high school, with bus service to and from the race site. The buses were numerous going in both directions and I didn’t have any wait inbound, and perhaps a 5 minute wait outbound. There was plenty of free water as well as energy bars and cytomax available prior to race start. Lots of porta potties as well as the trail head permanent restroom facility (rustic). Bag check wasn’t a check per se, but rather just leave your bag in a chalet at the trail head on ‘the honor system’. I had no troubles.

Awards. A long sleeved technical shirt as well as a finisher’s medal (wooden), which wasn’t specific to the distance run. The shirt was nice quality. Further awards for high place finishers.

The race & race course. In two words, extremely challenging. 100% of the course is on double track off-road trail with lots of elevation, grinding ascents, as well as numerous rapid steep ascent / steep descent elevation changes. Trail surface varied considerable. Dirt, sand, loose rocks, pebbles, grass were most common. Occasional roots. At times there were stretches of grass, or dirt, but at other times terrain rapidly switched from loose rocks to pebbles to sand or all of the above. Descents could be treacherous at times due to the loose surfaces and grade. I would best describe the course as a roller coaster ride from start to finish, it didn’t let up until you cross the finish line.


Review/course logistics. The course was well-marked. There were no issues with orienteering or path-finding. There was zero pavement and no obstacles. The course was always wide enough for passing, with zero bottlenecks. Adequate # of water/aid stations spaced throughout. I carried no energy or water. Ear buds/music was allowed. I saw two runners with dogs.

Shoes. Strongly recommend trail specific shoes. Lots of loose rock, sand, dirt both on ascents and descents. I wore fairly aggressive Saucony Xodus 3.0′s and was happy I did. My Garmin 205 showed grades both up and down of up to 22%, with many repeated grades between 8-12%. Sand, sand, sand.

Training. I run about 20-25 miles a week of mostly flat, at a training pace of around 8:15-8:30/mi. Race pace is 6:15 for the mile. 7:00 for a 5K. I run trails occasionally for fun and would not call myself a ‘trail runner’, although in the past I could have been called a very serious mountain biker.

If you don’t run steep hills UP and DOWN at least a couple times a month, you will not be ready to attack this course with gusto (though it will still certainly be fun!). My legs gave out well before my cardiovascular. The uphills were very taxing to the leg muscles, to the point that walking up at least part way became more frequent toward the end of the race. The downhills were commonly steep enough to be quite taxing as well if attempting anything like a strictly controlled descent. At times a nearly all-out downhill bomb was the best way to conserve energy – yeah, not recommended for the clumsy aka balance impaired.

Summary. Very challenging but extremely fun. Highly recommended for anybody that’s looking for a great way to test their leg endurance & trail running mettle, while having a blast.

Mulberry leaf extract inhibits atherosclerosis?

August 14th, 2013

Mulberry trees are widely distributed, producing red, purple and even white berries depending on the variety. Many parts of the tree, including the leaves, bark, berries have been used in folk remedies for thousands of years. Mulberry has been widely claimed and studied as an aid to control diabetes.

Atherosclerosis is a component of heart disease. It is the process by which arteries become clogged with cholesterol laden plaques, restricting blood flow and ultimately resulting in serious issues, including heart attacks when blood vessels supplying the heart become restricted.

In a study published recently [J. Agric. Food Chem., 2013], researchers tested mulberry leaf extract (MLE) on rabbits and found that in addition to improvement of liver function, the atheroma burden (an atheroma is an accumulation and swelling in artery walls, a precursor to atherosclerosis) and levels of serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) were also significantly reduced after MLE treatment. MLE treatment was also reported to reduced the size of existing atheromas in the vascular wall. In conclusion, this means that, in addition to improving cholesterol and triglyceride profiles, MLE appears to reduce existing atheromas, thereby preventing atherosclerosis.

The proposed mechanism of MLE’s role in reduction of arterial plaques is by causing an increase in the body’s production of a protein called p53 (p53 is classified as a tumor-suppressor protein that is released during cellular stress, such as that caused by DNA damage, low oxygen, etc). The p53-atherosclerosis connection is unclear. It was discovered separately that persons can be p53 deficient and that people with p53 deficiencies also had an increased size of atherosclerotic lesions.

In an earlier study [J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2010 September] “Effects of Mulberry Leaf Extract Rich in 1-Deoxynojirimycin on Blood Lipid Profiles in Humans”, subjects ingested capsules containing mulberry leaf extract, 12-mg three times daily, for 12 weeks. The results were very far from conclusive. After 12 weeks, findings showed a modest decrease in serum triglyceride levels and beneficial changes in the lipoprotein profile, although the study team admitted that the decreases were not statistically significant. Although the results were not statistically significant the researchers proposed that the MLE may potentially be used to decrease what is known as “very bad cholesterol”.

Conclusion: It all sounds well and good, particularly in the animal study..MLE actually reduces plaques?! Though in human subjects the real net effects are far from conclusive. At this point one might be thinking, well..why not go ahead and take MLE anyway? The results seem promising, right? Sure, if you like. The studies seem to indicate that there aren’t any serious side effects from moderate doses, but then again, if the evidence isn’t statistically significant, why bother? The better course of action would be to wait for a larger study with more human subjects, and in the meantime, if you have a risk for atherosclerosis, stick to what we are fairly certain works, including diet modification, exercise and if you aren’t adverse..statin drugs..

Berberine..a natural statin drug replacement?

August 13th, 2013

Interest in berberine as a natural cholesterol reducer isn’t new, in fact research on berberine dates back more than a decade. However of recent, there has been an increasing interest in the effectiveness of berberine extract as an alternative to taking statin drugs (cholesterol reducers), with several well designed studies coming online.

What is berberine? Berberine is a natural plant extract from Berberis aristata bark (commonly known as Indian Barberry). Biochemically, berberine has been proposed to reduce cholesterol AND triglyceride levels by increasing LDL-cholesterol receptors on the liver cell surface, and inhibiting triglycerides biosynthesis, and potentially inhibiting an enzyme associated with atherosclerosis.

In a randomized 2011 study [Med J Nutrition Metab. 2011 August]: “Clinical evidence of efficacy of red yeast rice and berberine in a large controlled study versus diet.” Researchers evaluated dietary counseling alone versus consuming a supplement containing red yeast extract and berberine plus diet counseling. There was strong evidence that the berberine formula significantly improved the participant’s lipid profiles versus diet counseling alone:

At 16 weeks; comparison of diet counseling + berberine/red yeast vs diet counseling alone:
Reduction of total-cholesterol: −19.1% vs −9.4%.
Reduction of LDL-Chol: −23.5% vs −10.8%.
Reduction of plasma triglycerides: −17.9% vs −11.3%.
HDL-Chol levels showed a moderate increase: +11.6% vs +4.0%.

Findings similar to these have been reproduced and repeated in several studies and it does appear that berberine may be an option for people who refuse to take statins, or people who have tried statin drugs but then stopped due to side effects such as muscle and joint pain.

Research regarding taking statin drugs + berberine are less numerous. It should be noted that, biochemically, statin drugs and berberine work via different metabolic mechanisms.

A study in lipidworld found that adding a berberine supplement to patients already on a stable dose of statin drugs resulted in further decreased total cholesterol (-8.1%), LDL (-10.5%) triglyceride levels (-5.4%).

In a study of rats; [J of Metabolism 2008 Aug] titled “Combination of simvastatin with berberine improves the lipid-lowering efficacy.” (Simvastatin is a commonly prescribed statin drug).

Researchers compared simvastatin, berberine and the combination of simvastatin + berberine extract in rats. LDL cholesterol was reduced 28% with simvastatin alone, 27% with berberine alone, the combination resulted in a 46% reduction in LDL. Interestingly the combined results of berberine + simvastatin were as effective as doubling the dose of simvastatin, which when doubled resulted in a 43% reduction in LDL cholesterol.

Summary – berberine does appear to be metabolically active, and does reduce cholesterol based on the findings of numerous research studies, and may be a useful alternative for those who refuse statins, or have had side effects with statins. Of course, any change in your statin regimen must be reviewed with your physician.

Veggie Update

June 5th, 2013

According to a large prospective study published by Loma Linda University (California), people who ‘adhered’ any type of vegetarian diet lowered their risk of death from any cause.

Curiously, the study discovered that men enjoyed significantly greater benefit than women when adhering to a vegetarian diet (of any type), and the researchers were unable to determine any specific reas…on why.

Classifications of vegetarian diets:

Vegan – No eggs, dairy, fish & meat.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian – no fish & meat.
Pesco-vegetarian – no meat.
Semi-vegetarian – fish or meat, no more than once weekly.

In total, people adhering to a vegan diet fared the best overall in relating to reduced mortality from any cause. However people adhering to any type of vegetarian diet were not far behind in benefitting from reduced mortality. This infers that any diet sharply limited in meat (red, white or otherwise) confers significant benefit as does the fact that eating mainly vegetables and not meat means a diet that is lower in saturated fat and high in fiber.

Piriformis Syndrome

May 16th, 2013

Maybe you’ve got a pain in the butt? If it’s literally your rear end that hurts, there’s a specific muscle that may be at fault, the piriformis.

The piriformis is located near the glutes in the upper hip. Its job is to move your leg outward by rotation and abduction. Think of sitting down, crossing your leg, with ankle on opposite knee.

A normal piriformis is essential to walking and balance, and by extension most sports activities. Injuries typically occur through sports, exercise overuse, training errors, or trauma, but can also be caused by frequent and prolonged sitting. People can be prone to piriformis problems due to genetics.

Typically just one side is involved, but it can be both. Initial symptoms are pain and tingling in the buttock(s) progressing to numbness. Pain is usually triggered by activities and many sports activities become painful. Eventually the act of walking or sitting can be very uncomfortable. Further progression results in pain down the back of the leg due to irritation of the sciatic nerve, and now you’ve got ‘sciatica due to piriformis syndrome’.

Because the piriformis muscle has an instrumental role in walking and balance, once it’s irritated, it’s easily re-irritated, and the irritation is usually a persistent source of pain unless proactive steps are taken.

The good news is that piriformis injuries and piriformis syndrome can be effectively treated right here in the clinic. First line treatments involve electrical muscle stimulation, progressive stretching, mobilization and alignment. We will identify the cause, correct training errors and posture, and recommend return to activity plans.

We’ve had a lot of success with this condition, thus if you’ve got a pain in the butt, call 612-822-5973 to schedule an appointment.

Shoulder Injuries: Rotator Cuff Tear

May 15th, 2013

The rotator cuff is a collective of four muscle tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. The bony structures of the shoulder joint are inherently unstable (the upper arm bone sits against the shoulder blade much like a golf ball sits on a golf tee). The rotator cuff tendons add significantly to the stability of the joint.

If one of the four tendons is damaged, you may have a rotator cuff tear. Tearing is described as ‘partial thickness’ or ‘full thickness’. A partial thickness tear is akin to fraying a tendon whereas full thickness implies a tear that is worse than fraying, usually a tear involving the majority of the tendon even up to a complete detachment.

Tearing most often occurs from trauma, sports injury or overuse, and risk increases with age.

Symptoms can range from none to severe pain and inability to raise the affected arm. Typical symptoms included mild shoulder pain that increases as the arm is raised. Pain can be quite sharp with sudden movements. There may be decreased capacity to raise the arm along with weakness of the shoulder. It can become difficult to perform daily activities, such as dressing. Delaying treatment may increase the likelihood of compensatory syndromes developing in the upper back, shoulder blade and lower neck, for example muscle spasms, and frozen shoulder syndrome, a condition were the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder becomes chronically stiff and painful.


Conservative, non-surgical care is considered the best initial treatment for rotor cuff injuries. First line treatments we provide in this clinic for rotor cuff injuries include ultrasound therapy, exercise rehabilitation, interferential stimulation, joint alignment and soft tissue mobilization. Even for full thickness tearing, conservative care is recommended initially, in conjunction with a surgical consultation to consider additional conservative measures such as corticosteroid injections. Delaying treatment and chronic injuries do not respond as quickly. For chronic cases, massage therapy can be a useful adjunct to address compensatory muscular stiffness in the upper back and neck.

If you suspect a rotator cuff tear, new or chronic, or any shoulder joint injury, call 612-822-5973 to set up an appointment, during which you will be examined to reach a diagnosis, and a treatment plan recommended.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Update

May 9th, 2013

Unexplained, persistent malaise, widespread muscle and joint pain, headaches, mental and physical exhaustion. Restless and un-refreshing sleep. Inability to focus, think and concentrate effectively.

These are a few of the more common symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, recognized and internationally classified under G93.3 (ICD-10) and 780.71 (ICD-9).

In this month’s Discovery Magazine, the research of two Norwegian oncologists in the field of chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome was reviewed. The scientists are focusing on a component of the body’s immune system, B-cells, as playing a significant role in the progression of chronic fatigue.

B-cells play an important role in the body’s immunity; B-cells generate antibodies, which help direct the body’s immune system to fend off invaders. Unfortunately when something goes awry, B-cells generate antibodies that attack healthy tissue, so-called auto-antibodies.

In their study, the scientists treated one group with rituximab, a drug that selectively depletes B-cells, and another group with a placebo. After 1 year of therapy 66% of the rituximab group significantly improved, whereas 13% of the placebo group improved.

Unfortunately, even in the cases of positive response, the initial improvement was slow and once the therapy was halted, in most cases the chronic fatigue returned, and the patients had to be re-treated.

Ice Out means warmer weather and lots of outdoor activities

May 6th, 2013

It’s official! The ice has ‘gone out’ on Lake Calhoun as of April 29th, 2013. This sets a new MN record for lateness. Ice out conveys the arrival of warmer weather and soon the lakeside trails will be crowded with all manner of people on the move.

In fact, running injuries are among the most common sports conditions treated here at Calhoun Chiropractic Clinic. While a full list of running-r…elated injuries is simply too long to post, some of our more commonly seen maladies includes: Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, Ankle Sprains, tendonitis, shin splints and plantar fasciitis.

Calhoun Chiropractic treats all of these and more, though the best advice we can give in this post is: Avoid Injuries before they begin.

The majority of running injuries occur from overtraining. Don’t go too far, too fast, too often. Get enough rest and vary your exercise.

Cardiovascular training, fitness training and weight loss can be accomplished in many different ways. That said, it’s a challenge in long distance running because to get better, you have to log the miles.

General tips:

• Progress in mileage and speed should be gradual, aim to increase distance by 10% per week.

• Intersperse easy and difficult speed/distance days.

• Substitute at least one non-running exercise day per week and have at least one rest day.

• One week per month, reduce your total weekly mileage.

• Stretch regularly. Watch your shoes for abnormal or uneven wear patterns.

• Above all else, pain is a warning sign. Stop running and consult us immediately.

Get out there, enjoy the outdoors, and Good Running.

It Just Works

May 6th, 2013

The phrase popularized by Apple, referring to their popular Apple ecosystem of devices, wherein owing an iPhone or iPad conveys that the device will do its job seamlessly and be unobtrusive while doing so.

We model our chiropractic treatment along the lines of ‘It Just Works’.

We will not make a lot of flashy promises and tell grandiose stories but rather deliver simple, competent, quality care, without overly-complicated care plans or medicines, all while communicating seamlessly with the patient and their existing healthcare team, to accomplish the primary goal of getting the patient well.

Getting well after all is why patients seek treatment for neck and back pain.

From Whiplash to Chronic Pain?!

May 6th, 2013

Back and neck pain are among the major reasons why patients seek out chiropractic care. Frequent or chronic episodes of pain occurring in the neck or back, caused by anything from poor posture to repetitive work to trauma from an accident can be treated through chiropractic adjustments.

If you happen to be in an auto accident and have injuries from the auto accident, Calhoun Chiropractic specializes in treating auto injuries such as whiplash. Even if you are just sore, you should get checked out immediately because you may experience serious health problems down the road.