Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adult Nationals Weekly Series #4: Meet Becky & Renee

About Becky

Rebecca Hamlin is a Yarmouth Ice Club figure skater and coach, born and raised in Brewster, MA.  The oldest of 4 kids, Becky started out in gymnastics and ballet before her cousin introduced her to figure skating.  After one session of Learn to Skate, Becky fell in love and was in private lessons at 9 years old.

Becky found her passion in figure skating and competed for almost 8 years.  Her career ended abruptly when she had to choose between figure skating and college.

About Renee

When Becky began private lessons, she was coached by Renee Roos.  A former figure skater, Renee came from a big skating family as her sister Nicole moved away at age 14 to train with Olympic and World Skating coaches Evy and Mary Scotvold.

Renee began coaching in 1990 and has been involved with the Yarmouth Ice Club since 1992.  This was around the time she met Briana Lackenby, who was finishing up her career as an amateur and eventually started coaching.

Becky with her coach of 18 years.

The Relationship between Becky, Renee, and Briana

Renee coached Becky throughout her career.  When Becky pulled away from the sport, she was not ready to quit.  She attended New England College but never lost touch with her coach.  In September 2012, Becky still missed being out there on the ice.  She thought about it for about a year and decided to make her comeback.

When Becky returned, the Yarmouth Ice Club was in need of coaches.  She spent the summer as a mentor and started taking on her own students.  Reconnecting with the rink felt right and Becky knew it was meant to be.  She missed competing and knew she had unfinished business.

The relationship between a coach and student is special.  Renee began coaching Becky again as an adult and Becky also linked up with Briana for help with choreography.  Becky looks at Renee and Briana as a coach, mentor, and a friend.  According to Becky, Renee is “tough when she needs to be and always there for me” while Briana is like a big sister to her.  “I am inspired by Bree’s strength every day.  She has helped me tremendously and really built up my confidence over the last couple of months.”

“When you take on a new student, you are not just a coach.  You become much more involved in a student’s life,” says Renee.  The relationship is built around trust.

Trust is also a big part of why Briana fits right into the team.  According to Renee, “Bree is a miracle worker.”  Anytime Renee or her students faces a setback, Renee always sends her students to see Briana for physical therapy.  She is a huge referrer of Cape Cod Rehab, especially because of the pool.

Becky: Then vs. Now

Becky is the only student Renee has ever coached as both a kid and an adult.  As an adult figure skater, Renee had to really slow Becky down.  She had to face reality that she was no longer 8 years old and it’s a completely different ballgame as an adult.

“As a kid, it’s all about jumping.  We tried to take what she did as a kid and make it even better now,” said Renee.  Becky began to think about the process and understand what her coach was telling her.  The former “gym rat,” Becky used to be in the gym 7 days a week and on the ice for 2 hours per day.  As an adult, she training 3-4 days per week on the ice and has been leaning the importance of recovery.

Becky’s mindset as an adult has also changed.  She is skating for the sheer joy and self-satisfaction.  Her training mindset is “You just gotta do it.  You need to be here.”  Becky quit her other job to focus on her own students.  When she competed in middle school and high school, she gave up a lot and her mom sacrificed a lot for her.  “These kids are counting on me.  My mom used to do it for me and I just want to give these kids the opportunity to be the best that they can be.”

Renee added, “Becky uses figure skating as therapy to escape.  She leaves everything at the door and she comes on the ice to do what she loves.”  Becky agreed.  She can’t imagine her life without it.

Adult Nationals

At Adult Nationals, Becky will be competing with her first competition as an adult and her first program in 10 years.  She will be skating in the Intermediate Novice Master’s Free Skate.  Her music: Romeo and Juliet.

“Becky struggled a lot.  She never had closure.  This competition is about coming back to finish what she started.  It didn’t work as a kid and she’s back to make it work in her 20s,” said Briana.

With two weeks to go until competition, Becky is feeling confident and excited.  “I still have it in me.  I’m ready.”

Blog post by Jen Skiba.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Plan. Progress. Perform with the TRX!

Progression is essential to keep seeing improvements from your workout. When your body becomes used to a work load, you plateau, stop seeing results and can even lose what you've been working so hard to gain.  Progressing exercises on the TRX is super simple if you understand the three principles behind suspension training.  


The pendulum principle is based on the fact that the straps will always travel back to a neutral position, hanging straight down from the anchor. Gravity will work with you or against you based on where you position the straps when you are performing an exercise; they can be positioned in front of, behind, or at neutral. This principle applies to most ground based exercises where the straps are being moved to perform the exercise. The TRX Crunch is a good example.

Progression 1:  Starting with your feet behind neutral.  This will make it easier to draw your knees forward, since gravity will be working with you to bring the straps back to their neutral position.

Progression 2: Starting with feet at neutral. You have to work harder to pull the straps away from neutral during the motion of the crunch but as you release, gravity will assist you in brining your feet back to a neutral position.

Progression 3: Starting with feet in front of neutral. You have to fight against gravity to keep the straps from going back to neutral as hold your plank and try to draw the straps even further from their neutral position as you perform the crunch.

Vector Resistance

The principle of vector resistance has to do with body weight vs. body angle when performing exercises. Take the TRX row for example; as you increase the angle of your body, the resistance (body weight) you need to work against is increased, making it more difficult to perform the exercise. The progressions with this principle are simple; starting close to a vertical position will be the easiest, then increasing the angle of your body and difficulty more and more until you are nearly parallel to the ground.           


The stability principle focuses on your center of gravity and base of support. As your base of support gets smaller and your center of gravity shifts outside its normal position, your body will become more unstable, making it more difficulty to perform the exercise. By simply changing your foot position you will increase or decrease you base of support and difficulty of the exercise. There are four basic foot positions to progress through.

Progression 1: Staggered stance. Place one foot in front of the other and hip width apart.

Progression 2: Wide stance. Feet set outside the hips.

Progression 3: Narrow stance. Feet set hip width apart or less.

Progression 4: Single leg stance. Body weight is placed solely on one leg.

Vector resistance and stability can be manipulated separately or together. Increasing the resistance (body weight) and creating an unstable environment will generate a greater challenge for you when performing your TRX exercise.

Blog post by Catie Furbush CSCS.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Got Back Pain?

It seems that at some point everyone encounters lower back pain and it can be a result of a number of different issues. Some are more serious than others but some of the common causes can be corrected with simple stretches and strengthening exercises.

Common causes of low back pain are: tight hip flexors, weak abdominal muscles, and weak gluteal & lower back muscles. This could be a result of excessive sitting, driving, bad training habits, and overall laziness or “inactivity”.

Although pain can be attributed to a number of different variables, hip tightness is a quite common reason. This is due to the hip flexors anterior pull on the pelvis when excessively tight, creating a more arched lower back. This exaggerated arch causes excessive pressure on the posterior portion of the lumbar spine. Consequently that hip tightness can actually inhibit the use of your glute muscles making them small and weak. Not to mention, it forces your gut forward maybe making your appearance not as flattering as you'd like.

“So your saying my gut looks bigger and my butt smaller?!”

Yes I am. If your hip flexors are very tight, it can actually impede the activation of your large gluteal muscles on a daily basis and force your hamstrings to do all the work.

So if you're an individual that doesn't feel any glute soreness after a workout loaded with a bunch of squats and lunges, then either your form is incorrect or your flexibility isn't where it needs to be to properly engage the correct muscles.

Strong gluteal muscles help absorb impact on the spine, as well as keep it in proper stable alignment. If you experience lower back pain or you just can't seem to strengthening your butt, have a trainer or physical therapist check your hip flexors' flexibility by performing the Thompson Test.

If your thigh and trunk maintain alignment with the table, your hip flexors are in a good flexible range.

If not, the first step is to stretch this area. You can stretch the hip flexors by actually doing the Thomas Test shown above or you can try these two alternatives:

The next area to strengthen is the core & lower back. A plank or modified plank is a great way to isolate those muscles while maintaining proper posture. As you get stronger, progress this exercise by alternating straight leg lifts in the plank position, this will add some new challenges of balance and glute strengthening. Make sure when performing a plank that you don’t drop your hips causing an arch in your lower back. You want to maintain a straight flat back or a slightly rounded one (butt a little higher) to protect yourself when beginning this exercise. 

Modified Plank
Plank with alternating Leg Lifts
Another exercise that focuses in on these specific areas is quadruped reciprocal extension. Start by positioning yourself on all fours (hands and knees) with hands underneath the shoulders and knees under the hips. Next engage the abdominal muscles by tightening your core, then extend and straighten, one leg and arm at the same time (must be opposite; ex. right leg & left arm). Return to the start position and repeat to the other side.

The goal of this exercise is maintain a flat back and neutral pelvis. Try to imagine a plate of food on your lower back and you don't want it to fall off. Keeping the core engaged throughout the duration of this exercise is extremely important. Focus on using your glute muscles as the main muscular force in lifting and extending the legs. The addition of resistance tubing and weights will take this exercise to the next level.

The last exercise in this series is a bent knee bridge on a physioball. The purpose of this exercise is to target the hamstrings, quads, glutes, and abdominals. In order to perform properly, you must focus on keeping your knee angle at 90 degrees at all times while you contract your core and gluteal muscles to lift your lower back off the ground and bring it back to the floor slowly.

Good progressions involve using only one foot on the ball at a time or rolling the ball in and out by bending and straightening the knees. Just make sure you maintain that pelvic bridge for the duration.

So quit sitting around! If you have mild lower back pain, try these stretches and exercises. Take it easy at first and conqueror the modified versions before progressing. Make sure no pain is present when doing any of these exercises. If pain is felt, immediately stop and contact your doctor or physical therapist. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps for the exercises depending on your fitness level. When stretching shoot for three 20-second holds and for the planks, try to maintain that steady position multiple times for 15-60 seconds. Doing these exercises 3-4 times/week will help increase flexibility, strength, and help to properly realign the spine.

Blog post by Drew Sifflard CSCS.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Adult Nationals Weekly Series #3: Meet Dawn

About Dawn

Dawn Feest is a Yarmouth Ice Club member from Harwich, Massachusetts who began skating when she was just 8 years old and never looked back.  She skated competitively for many years and joined the Ice Capades after college.  Touring and performing in ice shows were fun and a lot less pressure but a part of Dawn missed competing.  She skated with the Ice Capades and other producers until 2002 and then took some time away from the sport.  On Dawn’s 40th birthday, she ran into her childhood coach and she was introduced to adult figure skating.  Her return to competition began at Sectionals in 2012 and now at age 44, Dawn will be competing in her first Adult National Championships this April.

One of Dawn’s regrets as a figure skater was that she stopped competing.  After touring with the Ice Capades, she viewed figure skating as a personal challenge.  She got back to training and everything including the jumps came back fairly quickly. 

Dawn’s Injury

Dawn was skating a lot: jumping all the time, performing doubles, and she found she was landing very hard.  Over time she developed sciatica and started seeing a chiropractor but this was not fixing the problem and actually making it worse.

From the sidelines, Briana Lackenby, Cape Cod Rehab physical therapist & Yarmouth Ice Club coach, would watch Dawn on the ice and noticed her stiff landings.  Dawn was introduced to Briana who not only treated her injury but also switched up her whole style of skating adding longevity to her career.

Physical Therapy & The Burdenko Method

For Dawn, it was all about meeting the right people at the right time.  She began physical therapy at Cape Cod Rehab’s Hyannis location and with a combination of The Burdenko Method's land and water therapy and finding what works best for Dawn, she was able to get back on the ice pain free.  During rehab, which also meant about 6 weeks off the ice, Dawn was frustrated she could not just and train the way she wanted to.  Briana and Dawn found that the Burdenko Method combined with overhauling her jumping style was the only way to treat Dawn’s sciatica.  The pool worked wonders although Dawn fought it all the way!

Once Dawn was back on the ice, the focus shifted to quality over quantity.  She switched coaches and started working with Briana for both technical and choreography.  They worked on a lot of stretching and preventative exercises as well as the quality of Dawn’s skating technique.  She changed her whole approach to skating with softer landings on jumps, new choreography by Briana, and less hours on the ice (only about 2 hours per week) and hasn’t run into any problems or setbacks since.

While off the ice, Dawn works a very busy full time job, enjoys spending time with her sister and niece (which included her and her sister running a half marathon in Thailand!) and coaches Learn to Skate for adults.  She credits Briana for extending the longevity of her skating career and is looking forward to getting on the ice to compete at Adult Nationals.

Adult Nationals

To qualify for Adult Nationals, Dawn competed last weekend at 2014 Eastern Adult Sectional Qualifying Event in New Jersey where she took home two bronze medals and an 8th place finish in the free skate.  She will be performing 3 programs at Nationals: 2 showcase which focuses on audience appeal, costume, and dramatic theatrical performance and 1 technical free skate.  Her music ranges from Baliwood’s “Oh la la” to an emotional performance to Christina Perri's Human and music from Fame.

Adult figure skating is very unique.  Adults are skating for themselves.  Whether they had regrets and unfinished business or just love the sport.  Dawn has a passion and enjoys setting goals and seeing improvement both in practice and from competition to competition.  “It’s you vs. you out there and no one can take that away.”

Dawn plans to keep skating for a long time joking, “The day I retire is the day I can’t get up from that slide!”

Stay tuned for next week’s post featuring Rebecca Hamlin & her coach Renee Roos...

Blog post by Jen Skiba.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Nutritional Concerns As We Age

One of the top concerns for aging Americans is whether they are getting enough of the right nutrients, not just to maintain health, but in many cases, to mediate the effects of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.

As we get older, our metabolism slows down, meaning we don't need as many calories to fuel our daily activities, but that doesn't decrease our needs for nutrients. In fact, as we age, we may even need more nutrients in order to meet our bodies' demands. For instance, our ability to absorb Vitamin B--which our bodies use to help make red blood cells, increase our cognitive abilities, and to unlock the energy we take in as food--decreases drastically as we age, often meaning we need to eat more of it. (Ask your doctor and/or a registered dietitian before starting to use any supplements.) We also tend to lose our appetites as we age, and our "thirst cue" diminishes, both of which can leave us undernourished and dehydrated.

This so-called "anorexia of aging" can actually lead to greater risks of falls as well (because our bodies are not strong enough), cognitive decline (largely because of a decrease in B vitamins, both being ingested and absorbed), anemia, and immune deficiencies, because we are not getting enough of the nutrients we need. A lack of physical movement, too little fiber, and too little water intake can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort as well.

On the other end of the scale is weight gain as we age, a concern for those with osteoarthritis, as weight gain puts added stress on already inflamed joints. It's also a concern for folks with cardiovascular disease or metabolic diseases as it can increase risks of stroke, heart attack, and Type II Diabetes. Weight gain--as well as weight loss--can be seen as a psychological coping mechanism for depression or as a metabolic problem caused by inappropriate nutritional balance--both good reasons to go see a doctor.

Another major nutritional concern for us as we age is drug-nutrient and drug-drug interactions, which is a key reason to meet with a registered dietitian and your primary care physician. Drugs can interact with nutrients either diminishing the effectiveness of the drug or blocking the nutrients from being absorbed. 

So what are the best things for us to do?

Move! Physical exercise is key to moving nutrients through your body, keeping muscles and bones strong, and even keeping your mind sharp.

Stay hydrated. Even though we may not feel thirsty, our bodies still need to frequently be replenished with water. Of the six major nutrients, water is the most essential!  Our needs for water depend on our activity levels, the temperature outside, elevation (higher altitudes need more water), humidity, health, medications...a whole host of things. A safe bet is to drink a glass or two of water in the mornings and continue to "re-fill" throughout the day.

Eat more nutrient-dense foods. Think fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and good fats (unsaturated). Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals including cancer-fighting antioxidants, that our bodies need to stay healthy. Check out the ANDI index (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) to see what vegetables and fruits rank highest in nutrient density.

Think "Food First!" Our bodies use nutrients from food far better than they do nutrients from supplements. A healthy, balanced diet will often negate the need for supplements (vitamins, etc.), barring any health problems or nutrient deficiencies.

Talk to your doctor. Ask if there are any drug interactions you need to be aware of or if there are certain nutritional needs you need. Every body is unique in its nutritional needs and daily values are largely based on averages. You may need more or less of a nutrient. Your doctor or a Registered Dietitian will be able to help you best.

Blog post by Ashley Crosby.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Adult Nationals Weekly Series #2: Meet Briana

About Briana

You may know Briana Lackenby PT DPT as a Physical Therapist and Assistant Clinical Director at Cape Cod Rehab.  You also may know Briana as a figure skating coach for the Yarmouth Ice Club.  Or you may even know Briana as a Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Golf Fitness Instructor.  She also holds certifications as a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Certified Burdenko Method Instructor (Levels 1-6).  Briana does it all and she wouldn’t have it any other way!

Briana began figure skating when she was 8 years old and worked her way up to earn Senior Gold Level Status.  She began coaching in 1996 as a freshman in college.  During Briana’s time as a physical therapy student at Boston University, she completed one of her clinical rotations at Cape Cod Rehab.  Soon after graduation, Briana was hired by Joe and Kathy Carroll, owners of Cape Cod Rehab and has been working for them ever since.  When not in the clinic, you can find her on the ice at the Tony Kent Ice Arena where she puts in about 12-15 hours per week coaching skaters of all ages and abilities.

Cape Cod Rehab and the Yarmouth Ice Club

The relationship between Cape Cod Rehab and the Yarmouth Ice Club is very unique.  Briana has a long history of working with skaters both on and off the ice in injury prevention and rehab.  She became the go-to person when any Yarmouth Ice Club figure skater was struggling or suffered an injury.  Skaters, coaches, and parents all trust Briana’s judgment and opinions when biomechanically something isn’t right.  Her knowledge of the jumps and personal experiences with the physical and mental demands of the sport add that extra element to her already extensive physical therapy training and education.

The Burdenko Method

Another tie between figure skating and physical therapy is The Burdenko Method.  The Burdenko Method is a unique, innovative system for rehabilitation, conditioning and injury prevention developed and refined by Igor N. Burdenko PhD over a period of 40 years.

Dr. Burdenko has a long history of working with figure skaters.  He rehabbed Nancy Kerrigan after the infamous Tonya Harding incident.  With a combination of land and water, Dr. Burdenko helped Nancy to get back on the ice and earn a silver medal at the 1994 Olympics.  His list of figure skaters includes Paul Wylie, Oksana Baiul, and Yarmouth Ice Club coach and Olympian Konstantin Kostin. 

Briana’s interest in the Burdenko Method started as a skater watching Nancy Kerrigan and Paul Wylie train at the Tony Kent Arena.  They were both coached by Olympic and World Skating coaches Evy and Mary Scotvold whose training camp was located at the Tony Kent Arena in South Dennis, MA.  When Briana was hired by Cape Cod Rehab, her interest in Burdenko was spurred on by Joe who was already using the method in his clinics.  Joe introduced Briana to Dr. Burdenko and she became Part I and Part II certified.  Joe continued his training to earn the credentials as one of the very few Master Burdenko Method Instructors in the world.

“Working the whole body in different directions and at different speeds are principles of the Burdenko Method that translate exceptionally well for figure skaters who work slowly and gracefully and move into fast dynamic movements while changing directions,” said Joe.

The Burdenko Method is very dynamic and sport specific.  It became really big with figure skaters in both rehabbing and conditioning especially after it was proven successful for so many skaters including Olympic level competitors.  Briana found that it was more fun for the younger skaters as it was different exercises than everyone was used to and combined both land and water training.

Joe added, “Rehab of the injured skater in the pool allows them to simulate movements they do on the ice without the impact and keeps a level of conditioning while their training is impacted.  Mentally the athlete is engaged with the dynamic nature of the workouts and choreographing the exercises keeps them connected to their training on ice.  The Burdenko Method allows for a progressive transition from the water to the land and then back onto the ice.”

Coaching Dawn & Becky

Yarmouth Ice Club skaters Dawn Feest and Becky Hamlin will both be competing in Adult Nationals in April.  Briana coaches all aspects of Dawn’s skating from technical to choreography and she is also working on choreographing Becky’s performances.

To Briana, the best part about coaching is the creativity.  Every skater has their own style and Briana helps to bring out their strengths on ice.  She does everything from coming up with the concept to editing the music, developing the program, and designing the costumes.

Briana’s Role at Nationals

Adult Nationals will be a special event for Briana.  She will play the role of skating coach to Dawn and Becky, Medical Director for the entire competition, and if we’re lucky we may even see an appearance on ice during the opening ceremony.

When asked if she’d ever compete again, Briana hesitated but said she would consider it.  It’s a huge time commitment and there are not enough hours in the day!

Stay tuned for next week’s post featuring Dawn Feest...

Blog post by Jen Skiba.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bone Health: A Review

The trend in western medicine has been to use supplements to fix nutritional deficiencies. When it comes to improving bone health, it was claimed that calcium would do the job, then magnesium, then Vitamin D, and now vitamin K.  Though all of these are integral to the human body, supplementing them is like giving a car an oil change when it is out of gas. Fortunately, there is a new holistic trend focused on blending nutrition and medicine.  It is becoming more widely accepted that broader lifestyle choices, including exercise and a balanced diet, provide a healthier framework than supplementation. Supplements can be beneficial at times, but it is important to understand when and why they are used.

How is calcium related to bone health?

It is widely accepted that calcium supplementation is directly responsible for improved bone health.  However, despite the numerous research studies showing improvements of bone density with calcium and vitamin D supplementation, rates of osteoporosis have not improved.  In fact, the United States has the highest rate of dairy and calcium consumption in the world and yet, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the United states represents 44 million people, or nearly 1/4 the cases of osteoporosis in the entire world. 

How can this be?  The problem we run into is that one research study shows that calcium improves bone density and the next claims that calcium causes heart attacks, without improving bone health.  As a general rule, there will always be ''studies'' to support any theory.  The truth is that many foods provide calcium and many interact with calcium. Consuming dairy and calcium supplements for bone health is not enough. On the other hand, avoiding dairy based on one research study is not valid either.  Given the complexity of the human body and food, it is impractical to attempt to improve health through only a few variables.  Our bodies need innumerable nutrients from a variety of sources.

The only real solution to bone health comes from a balanced diet of whole foods.  If you are still worried about calcium intake, consider the following list of whole foods which provide ample amounts, as well as hundreds, if not thousands of other micro-nutrients needed by our bodies.

Calcium Per Serving of Various Foods
Serving Size
Estimated Calcium*
Collard greens, frozen
8 oz
360 mg
Broccoli rabe
8 oz
200 mg
Kale, frozen
8 oz
180 mg
Soy Beans, green, boiled
8 oz
175 mg
Bok Choy, cooked, boiled
8 oz
160 mg
Figs, dried
2 figs
65 mg
Broccoli, fresh, cooked
8 oz
60 mg
1 whole
55 mg
Serving Size
Estimated Calcium*
Sardines, canned with bones
3 oz
325 mg
Salmon, canned with bones
3 oz
180 mg
Shrimp, canned
3 oz
125 mg
Serving Size
Estimated Calcium*
Ricotta, part-skim
4 oz
335 mg
Yogurt, plain, low-fat
6 oz
310 mg
Milk, skim, low-fat, whole
8 oz
300 mg
Yogurt with fruit, low-fat
6 oz
260 mg
Mozzarella, part-skim
1 oz
210 mg
1 oz
205 mg
Yogurt, Greek
6 oz
200 mg
American Cheese
1 oz
195 mg
Feta Cheese
4 oz
140 mg
Cottage Cheese, 2%
4 oz
105 mg
Frozen yogurt, vanilla
8 oz
105 mg
Ice Cream, vanilla
8 oz
85 mg
1 tbsp
55 mg

How does acidity affect bone health?

Bones are more than just repositories for calcium.  In fact, calcium exists all throughout our body as a catalyst/signal for numerous life-dependent chemical reactions.  Much of this calcium is stored in the bones and kidneys and without proper nutrition; some of these stores are tapped.  One of the theories explaining the decrease in bone density is that acidic food from high protein (animal/grain) causes a net acidic load to the body.  Others propose that this is caused by high phosphate levels.  To balance pH, the body reabsorbs calcium from the bones and kidneys. Proponents of this theory suggest eating a diet with a net alkaline load to the body, high in vegetables and low on animal protein.

The theory has sparked controversy and numerous studies.  The main counter argument maintains that pH is balanced through respiration of CO2 and reabsorption of calcium from the kidneys.  However, studies have shown that an acidic diet causes a net calcium loss from the body (through urination).  Whether from the kidneys or bones, one fact is clear; calcium is leaving the body. With this in mind, maybe we should focus on retaining calcium more than supplementing it.   

To limit the amount of acidic foods in your diet, use the ''Potential Acid Renal Load'' scale, or PRAL. PRAL lists the major foods and their net acidic or alkaline load to the body.  The following chart shows the PRAL of many foods.  Interestingly, even those who counter the acid-base theory admit that a high alkalinity diet will necessarily mean eating more fruits and vegetables, which will thus improve health.

Major Food Groups
(per 3.5 oz /100 g)
Fats and Oils
Milk and Non-Cheese Dairy
Bread, Grains
Fowl and Fish
Meat, Processed
Cheese, Soft
Cheese, Hard

Bones are composed of more than just calcium.  The connective tissue that stores calcium and other minerals is known as the ''matrix''.  When the matrix is unhealthy, osteoporosis occurs.  This is shown in the fact that countries such as Bhutan and China with populations who consume as little as 200 mg of calcium per day often have greater bone density/health than western societies consuming 1000-3000 mg/day.  Statistics like these prove that bone health is regulated by more than just calcium.

Secondly, an acidic diet (PRAL) erodes bones by chronically stealing calcium from the body to balance the pH of the bloodstream. To neutralize this potential threat, the solution is to eat alkaline foods. Though this theory is contested, an increase in alkaline vegetable and fruit intake would improve bone health by providing calcium as well as numerous other minerals and enzymes necessary for the optimal health of the bone matrix.

Lastly, it is important to recognize the physical activity may be even more important to bone health than either of the above two conflicts.  It has been shown numerous times that the physically active have a much lower chance of developing osteoporosis. So go for a walk and get creative with your meals! 

Blog post by J.T. Thompson.