Thursday, January 30, 2014

All 5 Former Marlboro Men Are Gone

Picture by AP
I'll definitely miss Amoy Street, but NOT the smokers that sometimes stand along the five foot way outside our clinic to smoke.

Perhaps this will give them some incentive to quit.

All five actors who portrayed the iconic cowboy died from smoking. Eric Lawson, the fifth former Marlboro Man (from 1978-1981) passed away at age 72 on January 10 this year from respiratory failure caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He had smoked since age 14!

David Millar (1950's) died of emphysema in 1987. Wayne McLaren (age 51) died in 1992 after a battle with lung cancer. Davie McLean and Richard Hammer who both played Marlboro Men in the 1970's died from lung cancer in the mid 1990's.

Remember this ad?
*Picture from

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Good And "Bad" Of Swimming

Picture by RichSeow @
In many ways, swimming has the benefits of most land based aerobic exercises like running, walking, cycling etc. Swimming has been also found to effectively improve cardiovascular fitness and muscle mass while also effectively reducing blood pressure.

Since swimming is done in water, it cools you down and there is a lot less impact compared to land-based exercises and heat related illnesses. Chances of  injuries are also much lower. This is the main reason why our athletes/ patients can do rehab almost straight after surgery while maintaining their fitness levels.

Despite all its advantages, here's one real drawback regarding swimming. It seems to make you eat more! At least that's what the researchers found.

Researchers found that swimming (whilst beneficial in improving cardiovascular fitness) is not particularly effective at promoting weight loss. In fact, those who swam (compared to those who brisk walked, jogged or cycled) tended to put on weight. (There were more than 15 000 adults studied over a decade).

I'm always starving after I swim. Now I know why I feel like I can eat a horse after swimming. Please share your views.


Tanaka H (2009). Swimming Exercise: Impact Of Aquatic Exercise On Cardiovascular Health. Sports Med. 39(5): 377-387.

Littman AJ et al (2005) Effects Of Physical Activity Intensity, Frequency, And Activity Type On 10-year Weight Change In Middle-aged Men and Women. Int J of Obesity. 29: 524-533.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Symmetrical Knees The Secret To Usain Bolt's Success?

Picture from
Is having symmetrical knees the secret to to sprint king Usain Bolt's speed? A new study by a group of British researchers seem to think so.

Well, before you stop reading here and think that the reason Bolt won six Olympic gold medals just because his knees are symmetrical. I think the answer is no. But more on that later.

Back to the published study. This group of researchers found that Jamaican children with the most symmetrical knees in their study were the most likely to become the best sprinters when they became adults. They also found that Jamaican children were much more symmetrical in the legs (especially knees) in comparison to European kids. This symmetry predicted their willingness to sprint and their sprinting times when they were adults.

This childhood symmetry project started in 1996 involving 288 primary school children (average age of 8) when the study started. The children were retested in 2010 when they were in their early twenties. Other traits like ear height, finger length, knee and ankle width, foot length, wrist and elbow width were also studied.

Now if I suggested that Michael Jordan is the best ever basketball player in the NBA because he is 1.98m tall wouldn't you say that there are many other taller players who are in the NBA (or aren't even playing in the NBA) but not as good as Jordan? Personally, I feel one trait (symmetrical knees) does not a champion make (the way Yoda will say it).

The Independent (English newspaper) is probably too quick to jump on the findings. I personally think that symmetrical knees in Jamaicans can be a contributing factor to their superior sprint performance, but not the only reason. The need to find these talented sprinters, to develop and then manage them and their training, (and other reasons) are other possible contributing factors why Usain Bolt and the other Jamaicans are currently superior sprinters (and not because they have symmetrical knees).


Trivers R, Palestis BD and Manning JT. (2013). The Symmentry Of Children's Knees Is Linked To Their Adult Sprinting Speed And Their Willingness To Sprint In A Long-term Jamaican Study. PLoS ONE 8(8) : e72244. doi : 10.1371/journal.pone.0072244.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Teaching At Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hopsital

After seeing patients at Sports Solutions in the morning today, I made my way to Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hospital.

What's the occasion? AMK - Thye Hua Kwan hospital is a geriatric and rehabilitative care hospital and I hardly see any neurological (stroke, Parkinson's, Alzeimer'setc) patients, some of you must be thinking.

Well, the head of their Physiotherapy department, Catherine had requested that I hold a special session for her and her team to teach the staff there the basics of Kinesio Taping.

So I drew up a list of concepts and techniques specially for them. Here are some pictures taken from the session.
What's the commotion?
Let's retest after taping
Gently does it
A group shot minus the Irish boys.

Well, it's a brand new year and more teaching beckons.