If You’re Not Wearing Merrells, You’re Not Using Your Feet!

image “The human foot was made for running.”


Thus concludes an analysis of runners during 64 days covering 4,500 kilometers- – hit the link below:

Your feet are mechanical marvels that deserve more respect.

Aside from keeping you upright, feet do fascinating things just getting you back and forth all the time.

I maintain, however, that when you box them up in layers of foam, fabric, and the latest shock absorbing technology, there are significant trade offs. Feet become more like immovable platforms hinged at the ankle than the magnificent transformers of energy that the forefoot allows them to be.

And this spring in the step is not just important to runners. It deserves your attention, as well, Seniors. “…older people, when they walk, take shorter steps than younger walkers, and rely less on the muscles around their ankles and more on the muscles around their hips to complete each stride than do younger walkers.”

A trained clinician can learn a lot about you simply by observing your gait.

A recent study concluded,
“To lessen the chance of such injuries (Achilles tendon) and potentially also maintain more of our speed as the years pass, he said, we probably should consider strengthening our calf and ankle flexor muscles. (The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends a variety of such exercises online.)
“Why Runners Slow With Age (And How Strength Training Can Help)”


Last summer I posted about my experience becoming accustomed to the minimalist design of the Merrell Vapor Glove 2. There’s no endorsement connection here, just the honest revelation that wearing these shoes has significantly increased the strength of all aspects of my foot/ankle movement.
As mentioned before, it takes time to get used to being nearly barefoot and learning to step more intentionally.

But there is no doubt that you will accomplish exactly what the study recommends–stronger ankle flexor and calf muscles–simply by giving your feet the opportunity to function as they should!

Alright; I exaggerated somewhat in the title of this post…barefoot also qualifies as ‘using your feet’.

Important note: I am not suggesting that a forefoot landing is a better running style. There exists a never-ending debate regarding the significance of heel versus forefoot landing in real world running.

Either way, my point still remains; that using the feet every day as closely as possible to the feel of being barefoot strengthens all the supporting structures in a safe and very significant way.

Just what the doctor ordered!

UPDATE: 7/7/16


10/1/16  More new data:


To Your Functional Feet,


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0


Elbow Pain: Not Necessarily Inflammation–And Why That Matters

(view of right elbow showing medial epicondyle with connective tissue and first layer of muscle) 

If you’re enjoying a sport where the elbows are a focal point for inordinate stress–tennis, golf, baseball, weightlifting–the joy can disappear rapidly when even a slight movement or touch of the elbow elicits sharp pain. 

For years, intermittent but significant elbow pain has been part of my training. Only now do I feel confident that I understand what was, and still is, taking place physiologically to produce this pain. 

The situation regarding my own experience involved the inside, or ‘medial’ portion of the elbow. Tennis elbow typically involves the outside, or ‘lateral’ epicondyle. The forces generated by the backhand stroke are primarily responsible in that case. Complicating matters at the site of the epicondyle is added leverage straining the tendons that pass over the protrusion of the rounded bone. 
Let’s take a look at what’s happening and why. 

    (next layer of muscle added–notice the major flexor muscles originating from the medial epicondyle) 

“Originally, inflammation was thought to generate the pain in medial epicondylitis. However, magnetic resonance images (MRIs) and histology show the presence of microtears in the flexor-pronator tendons without inflammation.”


                          (next layer of muscle added)

“Kraushaar and Nirschl noted that histopathological studies of tendons suffering chronic injury demonstrate an absence of acute inflammatory cells. Nirschl has called this degenerative process a tendinosis, indicative of the failed intrinsic mechanism of the tendon to heal, rather than a tendinitis. A tendinitis implies an extrinsic blood borne response including the presence of inflammatory cells not evident in the histopathological studies of chronic overuse tendons.”


What we thought in the past was an inflammation problem (the suffix ‘itis’ in medical diagnoses indicates inflammation) is really a degenerative tendon condition necessitating an entirely different set of responses. 

So here I was, years ago, treating medial epicondylitis with ibuprofen and upping the dose while experiencing no relief of inflammatory symptoms. Unfortunately, I was one of the ones who later found out that the warning labels on Ibuprofen are there for a reason. You can read what happened to me in the following post:


The other recommended response to inflammatory pain is complete rest to facilitate healing. 

That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do when the healing involves tendons.

 Here’s why… 

“For healing to occur, tension is required across fibroblasts in order for cells to divide and orient themselves perpendicular along a line of stretch. 11 The stress also stimulates collagen fibrils to orient themselves in a parallel arrangement to the direction of tensile load, allowing them to resist imposed demands. 19 However, when the rate of injury exceeds the intrinsic ability of the tendon cells to repair themselves, tissue damage occurs. If the injurious behavior is continued long enough, degeneration of the tendon results.” (quoted from Nirschl Orthopaedic Center website) 

The participation in a well-rounded physical therapy regimen designed to aid in the proper repair of tendons without overuse is the best course of action. Only if this has been pursued without success should one consider surgery, suggests the information on the quoted website above. There is a wealth of information to be found on this site. 

The Latest Incident: My Acute Onset Experience 

I remember exactly where, when, and what happened regarding my right elbow problem. A little over a year ago, I’m doing chin-ups to failure and I’ve got a spotter behind me to start assisting for more reps when I’m at my limit. About the seventh assisted chin-up I feel a sharp burning pain radiating from the inner side of my right elbow. As much as I’d like to think that I can push myself as I did in earlier years, at 64 common sense is more valuable than reps to exhaustion. I’m still dealing with the resultant chronic pain. 

“Trained muscle is able to absorb more energy prior to failure, and the incidence of injury increases with fatigue. This is because as a muscle fatigues, greater stresses are absorbed by the tendons.” (Nirschl Orthopaedic Website)

For this reason, and my own training experiences through the years, I recommend that the risks accompanying extreme training definitely exceed the potential benefits. 

At this point, armed with new information, I am seeking relief of my pain with a revised plan of attack. I will update you with future results. 

Recommended in the referenced article is the use of forearm braces that help by dispersing the forces generated by muscular contraction.  

Delivery from Amazon is scheduled for Tuesday. 

Don’t Need to Train To Failure, 


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Fitness: It’s Really About Discovering What Fits

Let’s take a look at three potentially enjoyable ways that you can change the course of your life with fitness.

Before we go there, however, let’s focus on the process of discovery, itself.

It involves doing something different.

Obviously–how else could anything be discovered?

I guarantee you that there is an exercise activity that you can and will enjoy, that will change your life in major ways. You simply have to make the effort to discover it.

Your comfort zone is your jail. The keys to escape are labeled ‘decisions’. These keys are located deep inside the place where only you can go.

Dance to the Music

There’s no need to sweat over the details on this one, but you do want to work up a sweat, if you can. This is purely and simply about the music that moves you and whatever moves you can do. Your body doesn’t know what’s right or wrong, so just get going and get crazy. Use a rhythm that’s irresistible.

Is this easy, or what?

Use big movements to work the big muscle groups. This creates a greater demand for cardio/pulmonary response – -you want your heart to start beating faster and your breathing to be faster and deeper. Incorporating partial squat movements (according to your ability, of course) is fantastic for accomplishing these goals. Start with a music list that contains about ten minutes of tunes that you love. Just do this self made dance routine any way you like for the ten minutes, three times a week. You will find this ‘self’ time to be incredibly gratifying, first of all, because you made the decision to discover! This is its own reward. Secondly, as you allow yourself to enjoy the movement without fear of doing ‘a wrong move’ you will focus more on the moment. This is an important aspect of exercise as a stress reliever. Think about it. If you find yourself worried about not knowing a particular dance routine, or being self conscious about how you might look, how much fun is it going to be? You’re not in competition with anyone. On the contrary;

You’re on a journey of discovery to find joy in movement.

Work Your Body With Resistance

Resistance exercise is important because maintaining muscle strength and bone density is critical for good health as we age. There is no substitute for this. Muscle and bone respond to regular (meaning consistent over a period of time) resistance exercise by becoming stronger. In our dance routine, your legs and hips will be receive significant resistance training, while the upper body very little.

I’ve trained with weights since I was young. At that time it was a vanity thing. Now, in my sixties, it’s a survival thing. In those days people believed that big muscles made a person ‘muscle bound’ and restricted natural movement. Science has since revealed that weight training produces substantial benefits that go way beyond muscle size.
Body weight only routines are fantastic, creative and challenging. Aging, however, has compromised my ability to perform certain movements. The arthritic pain in my big toes, for example, makes a simple push-up a painful exercise for me. Welcome to aging. The use of free weights gives me the ability to design a full body strength and resistance routine and to meet my particular needs. In this way, free weights offer an incredible variety of moves with variable resistance that nothing else can match. Because I also have total control of the speed and range of motion of the movement, it’s the safest way to resistance train effectively. Training slow and deliberate is my style. It’s easier on tendons that, at this point, have shown some signs of wear. Go at your own pace with the goal of smooth movement, moderately challenging yourself, with particular focus on form. If you’re a beginner, you really should enlist the aid of a personal trainer. I know, it’s not easy finding the right person, but it’s very important. You’re most likely to succeed with resistance training by seeking out a local Senior group class conducted by a knowledgeable, enthusiastic instructor. I’m the first to admit that the gym, for most people, is not an easy place to have fun.

In recent years, much has been discovered about the efficacy of moderate exercise. It’s simply not necessary to ‘max out’ and ‘feel the burn’ to benefit greatly from exercise. Enjoy your experience with exercise for the health of it, accomplished with simple moderation!

What About Walking?

Walking is a good activity–something that you do every day. But because you do it every day, unless you’re doing it faster, or uphill–requiring greater effort, I’m not going to give you credit for exercising.

I propose that exercise is ‘The use of positive physical stressors on the body systems that results in increased strength and/or improved functioning.’

How do you know when walking becomes exercise?

Your heart will be beating faster and you’ll be breathing a little heavier. If you do this consistently over time, you will need to walk a little faster to produce that same heartbeat and respiratory response. That means you’ve gotten fitter and you’ve advanced on your journey.

For the More Adventurous

Why not embark on a fitness journey that can calm the spirit as well? Tai Chi or Yoga could be perfect for the reflective soul seeking to unite mind and body.

So much to choose from…

Find Your Keys,


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Uncle Harry Lost 37 Pounds Fast on The Amazing Acorn Diet!

Did I get your attention? I hope so…because there is no uncle Harry and there is no Acorn Diet.

Uncle Harry cited above in the title is anecdotal evidence. Someone’s story is supposed to prove validity. I don’t mean to be rude here, but maybe it took Uncle Harry six months to lose 37 pounds, not two weeks. Maybe Uncle Harry’s picture of ‘before and after’ isn’t actually what it appears to be. Maybe uncle Harry was doing something along with the Acorn Diet that they are not telling us about. Get the picture? These ‘Uncle Harry’ stories abound in articles and advertisements that are trying to get you to buy. They work.

They are generally void of any way for you to determine their validity.

People buy anyway.

On the net (and in print), anecdotal (Uncle Harry) evidence will always confront us. It’s best not to base your decisions on this type of hearsay information. The reality is that even some recognized experts, who wield powerful influence, can lead us astray.

Credentials Are Nice, But Don’t Guarantee Validity

A number of years ago, one of the most prominent scientists in the world (Nobel Prize in chemistry, among numerous other awards), Dr. Linus Pauling, made a strong and compelling case for mega dosing vitamin C. Credentials and accomplishments don’t get any better than his. Vitamin C, based on his research, was a powerful anti-cancer substance when taken in large doses. At that time, that was all I needed to know– Linus Pauling? ….vitamin C? ….no brainer! I jumped on this. I was downing C tablets the size of horse pills.

After years of clinical tests and trials, I am not aware of any conclusive clinical evidence that has proven mega doses of vitamin C to be effective as a cure for cancer.

What’s the consumer of health and fitness information to do?

For this, I will suggest the admonition spoken in the boxing ring before the bout begins, “Protect yourself at all times!”

Keeping It Real,


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Know Your Numbers: Ignorance and Inaction Can Cause Serious Side Effects

You can certainly make some guesses about your health based on what you see in the mirror. And the daily feedback your body gives you is, indeed, a helpful status indicator.

But nothing compares to plotting the course of your wellbeing using the numbers of your personal chemistry.

I have chosen to share my health information with you in the hope that you will become proactive about your future. You, however, must react to your own unique set of circumstances.

For the past thirty years, the measurements included in this basic battery of tests have been my guide posts. Let’s take a look at them, and I’ll share with you my personal decisions regarding recommendations given to me over the years.

Never have I been prescribed medication to treat a chronic condition, although I have been advised in the past to consider it with regard to blood pressure and cholesterol. Being prescription free and healthy at 64 puts me in the company of a very small minority.

By way of background, my father and mother were both on medication for blood pressure and cholesterol. In spite of strict dieting and being an avid and dedicated swimmer, Mom had continued cholesterol problems even while on medication. My father had a quadruple bypass in his fifties and a second heart surgery before he died in his seventies. The genetic deck was stacked against me regarding the most troublesome health issues of the day. The expectation, as a young man, was that these same cholesterol and blood pressure problems would be mine by way of inherited tendencies.

Serious research done while in college ingrained in me a respect for the power of pharmaceuticals–both the benefits, and the inevitable side effects. My approach to good health became the pursuit of what the body could do best on its own first–fortified with the benefits of exercise, nutrition, recuperation, and a calm spirit.

Let’s look at the numbers:

(The most recent data– missing is height and weight: 6′ 1, 160 lbs)

1. Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol levels above 200 typically raised concern on the part of my doctors, with drug recommendations following. I was advised years ago, with my level at 230, to be on medication. I chose to continue doing what I was doing and felt comfortable with my situation. Data have been available for years regarding the numerous controversies surrounding these drugs, and I made my choices accordingly, keeping my opinions to myself. In later years, under a different primary care physician, I was advised that the concern over cholesterol at a 220-230 level was mitigated by the HDL/LDL ratio and my commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

Finally, a doctor who felt the way I did about my wellbeing.

2. Blood Pressure

For many years, BP hovered in the 130/85 range – – sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. When advised to bring the numbers down with drugs, I kept on course without them. The goal was to remain heart healthy without drugs beyond the age at which my father had his first quadruple bypass.

I succeeded.

3. Blood Glucose Levels

This has been the biggest surprise to me. You can readily see that it is borderline healthy. Even though I pay close attention to sugar and carbohydrate intake, the numbers are revealing. My first takeaway was, “What would it be if I wasn’t so careful?” By all outward appearances–my weight, BMI, exercise level, food consumption –you’d think that blood glucose levels would be toward the lower limits. Looking in the mirror would make me think that there’s no hint of a reason to be concerned.

In this case, however, the mirror is blatantly misleading.

Summary and Conclusions

The decisions you make about your health are the most personal and important that you will make. I am not recommending that you make the decisions that I made, but that you make the best decisions for yourself, armed with the best information you can have, and understanding your own commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

Making decisions based on a few pieces of the puzzle can lead you in the wrong direction. I had always thought, based on my total profile, that taking drugs for either my cholesterol or blood pressure would have created issues with side effects more devastating than the slightly elevated risk posed by being at the edge of normal.

There is no doubt whatsoever that America’s treatment of choice for practically all ailments is some sort of pharmaceutical. We can’t blame this situation on the industry, as much as we’d like to. You must take responsibility for your own health–each and every day with the lifestyle decisions that you make.

The journey of good health is not an easy one. Along the way, if you’ll make the effort to incorporate more healthy responses and less dependence on others making your decisions, you will be glad you did.

I promise!

Steven Siemons
5/18/16 Research Update:
“…heightened blood pressure was associated with a 62 per cent higher risk of vascular dementia between the ages of 30-50.”

5/11/16 Research Update: Has Good Cholesterol Been Hyped? :

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Newest Workout: Why It’s Not Enough

While you’ve been doing what you were doing and wishing you had more energy and stamina to do more of it, dozens of powerful fitness programs have appeared.

What’s happening with you?

Good health and physical fitness are, at their foundation, simple and basic principles. There are no extremes necessary and the time involved is amazingly minimal.

And there are no secrets.

Like any endeavor, the more you learn and practice, the better you will be. But it’s not like attempting brain surgery without practice.

Movement is life. More movement is more life.

Eating more calories than your body can effectively utilize will generally result in accumulation of fat.

If you don’t love yourself enough to care about your good health, the previous two points don’t matter.

You may be disappointed with the brevity of this post.

Don’t be.

If you’re disappointed, get over it and get started by taking the first step – – whatever you can do – – in the direction of your new lifestyle.

Get Started Now,

Steven Siemons


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Exercise Illusion: It’s Not About Burning Fat!

The amount of time, money, effort and disappointment that go toward attempting to ‘burn fat’ must be enormous. Perhaps if generators were attached to all the treadmills, stationary bikes and rowing machines, we could make a fair contribution to clean energy production.

I have chosen to make exercise an important part of my lifestyle because I enjoy it and the health benefits are irreplaceable; incapable of being achieved as well by any other means.

As an added benefit, the more energy you expend physically, the more calories you burn, right? So you keep chasing ‘The Ultimate Fat Burner’ workout, thinking that you simply haven’t found it yet.

That notion, I’m sure, factors mightily in the billions of dollars generated selling the prospect of a beautiful body.

Diet and exercise are always mentioned together when it comes to losing weight. One does compliment and enhance the effectiveness of the other; but diet is, by far, the most important component of weight loss and maintenance.

If your goal is to lose weight and the major focus is not on the quantity of food you are eating, your efforts are directed at lesser effective issues.

Multiple times weekly an important component of my exercise routine centers on cardiovascular/respiratory fitness. Using the stair step machine, I elevate my heart rate and respiratory tempo to the desired levels for twenty minutes. This type of exercise rejuvenates the body at the cellular level. That’s my purpose with this activity.

A side benefit is that it takes about 200 extra calories during the session to achieve my goal.

ONLY 200 calories?

Obviously, it makes much more sense to avoid the two cookies for desert that I can consume in about 30 seconds if my goal is to reduce calories.

If you don’t catch the significance; or you’re simply not willing to change your eating habits, you will always be on the unfortunate side of the equation.

There is not enough time in the day to work off calories that can be so quickly consumed in excess if you’re careless.

Focus On the Basics,

UPDATE: http://www.m.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20160128/exercise-diet-calories-weight?src=RSS_PUBLIC
UPDATE 3/14/16 Must have read my blog… http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/exercise-in-futility/471492/
The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.