Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Millenial And Generation Z Strength Decrease

*Erin and Vean trying to 'outgrip' each other
When I was just starting to work, my dad (from the boomers generation) felt that that my generation was weaker, softer and more fragile than him and his peers. Guess what? I now think the generations after mine (I am Generation X) are even softer. We even call them the *strawberry generation. I suppose every generation thinks that the generation after theirs is weaker than theirs.

Looks like my dad is right. A group of researchers (Fain and Weatherford, 2016) looked at the grip strength of millenials (born between 1981-1996) and compared the data with that of people in the 1980's. They found that grip strength (which is a good indicator of overall strength) dropped by 22 percent in men, proving that millenials are in fact weaker than the previous generation. Generation Z is even weaker.

Hand grip strength assesses the amount of force a person can generate with their grip. Researchers can find out a person's health, rate at which they are aging and diagnose certain health conditions such as heart disease, bone mineral density, cognitive impairment, falls etc.

Grip strength is usually tested with a dynamometer, which a person grasps the same way they would hold a glass, but with the elbow tucked into the side and positioned at right angles. The dynamometer is squeezed for 5 seconds, usually 3 times on each hand and performed on both hands, with the avearge taken.

Research shows that having grip strength lower than average compared to people of the same gender and age group was associated with heart failure risk, death from any cause and even predicting survival from cancer. Note that cancer survival is also dependent on cancer type and time of diagnosis.

Please note that grip strength is also correlated with height, weight and age. Taller, heavier and younger people tend to have better grip strength.

These declines in strength matter because we need a reserve of strength to maintain a high quality of life as we live to our 70's and 80's. 

What is causing each generation to be weaker than the previous? Modern life is less demanding for almost everyone except those still working in high activity jobs like labourers and construction workers. Our children have less physical education, spend less time playing outside and this continues in the army (for boys) and the workplace.

This a sign for our youth to get outside, move your bodies, take care of your physical health just as much as you're spending time on your screens. Then maybe, just maybe, we can stop this trend.

*Thanks to Byron for getting me the articles, and to Erin and Vean for posing for the picture.


Bohannon RW, Bear-Lehman J, Desrosiers J et al (2007). Average Grip Strength: A Meta-Analysis Of Data Obtained With A Jamar Dynanometer From Individuals 75 Years Or More Of Age. J Geriatr Phys. 30(1): 28-30.

Dodds RM, Syddall HE, Cooper R et al (2016). A Global Variation In Grip Strength: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of Normative Data. Age Aging. 45(2): 209-216.DOI: 10.1093/aging/afv192

Fain E and Weatherford C (2016). Comparative Study Of Millenials' (Age 20-34 Years) Grip And Lateral Ponch With The Norms. J Hand Ther. 29(4): 483-488. DOI: 10.1016/j.jht.2015.12.006.

*The strawberry generation was first described in Taiwan as a term that describes today's young generation who have good ideas and creativity, but bruise easily like strawberries when put under pressure. Meaning they cannot withstand social pressure or hard work like their parents' generation.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

The Longest Race

I definitely remember watching Kara Goucher racing in her first Boston Marathon in 2009. In fact, I always played a video of how her running style was different from Salina Kosgei and Dire Tune when I was giving talks on running technique.

Picture by Tim Kelley from Flickr
The trio ran shoulder to shoulder from Kenmore Square to the final right turn on Hereford Street. Kosgei and Tune broke away from Goucher, and sprinted down Boylston Street. Kosgei was behind Tune before hitting the finishing tape one stride in front, timing her kick to perfection. Goucher finished third, 9 seconds back in 2:32:02 hours. She was sobbing visibly and no one could have guessed what she went through for that podium placing.

I bought a copy of her just released autobiography "The Longest Race" as she reveals her experience of living through and speaking out against the secretive and lavishly funded " Nike Oregon Project" - one of the biggest scandals in distance running.

She revealed for the first time in the book that her Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar sexually assaulted her twice while massaging her. He also sexually harassed her while flying to competitions (twice he had been drinking and taken Ambien). Salazar is currently banned for 4 years by the US Anti-Doping Agency and permanently banned by the US Center for SafeSport for sexual misconduct.

I was horrified (but not surprised) after reading the details Goucher shared about the sexual assaults since there were earlier stories from other athletes like Mary Cain and Amy Begley. They told of  the physical and verbal abuses they received from Salazar after they came forward earlier while training together.

Throughout the book, a group of men at Nike fostered this misogyny and abuse. Then Nike CEO, Mark Parker, John Capriotti (VP of Nike Track and Field), John Slusher (executive VP of Nike Marketing), Darren Treasure (Hired as Oregon Project's sports psychologist, but never licensed) and Alberto Salazar.

Goucher describes going to the Nike venue 11 days after giving birth, wearing "two sports bras and a diaper under my running tights while completing a timed mile on the track." She felt pressure to get back to training immediately since Nike had suspended her contract when she was pregnant since clauses mandated how often she had to race to receive payment. 

Slusher confirmed that Nike would dock Goucher US$325,000 in pay even though she had made many appearances on behalf of Nike during her leave from competition. Nike even timed her pregnancy annoucement for maximum marketing effect.

Meanwhile, USA Track & Field, governing body of the sport (whose funding is controlled by Nike) had cut off her family's health insurance because her marathon ranking had dropped while she was pregnant.

already know this is common practice thanks to Olympians Allyson Felix and Alysia Montano (pictured below) who shared similar maternal experiences with Nike while pregnant. If Allyson Felix, winner of seven Olympic gold medals and 14-times World Champion in athletics cannot secure maternity protection from Nike, who can?

After reading what happened, who was involved and how the biggest brand in sports allowed this to happen to the their country's top athletes, I'm wondering if we should still be buying that pair of Nike shoes or any Nike merchandise?

How about female athletes in Singapore? I'm hoping that none of our female athletes go through this. We need to make sports safe and fair for everyone.


Goucher K  and Pilon M(2023). The Longest Race: Inside The Secret World Of Abuse, Doping, And Deception On Nike's Elite Running Team. Gallery Books. Simon & Schuster Inc. New York..

*The 127th edition of the Boston Marathon takes place tomorrow on 17th April, 2023.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Backward Running Is The Way Forward?

Picture from Uthoff et al (2018)
The very first post I did on this blog was back in Jan 2009 on running backwards. I was mainly writing from personal experience then. Did not expect to have written so many (> 900 posts) since then.

Looking back at those first few articles showed me how my writing has changed. The posts now are not purely from personal experience anymore. I always try to make sure it is evidence based. Of course this means it also takes me longer to write them up each week. Definitely have to rack my brains more (to come up with interesting topics) and put in more effort to read up the relevant articles.

I first learnt about the usefulness of running backwards after a guest lecturer taught it during my postgraduate physiotherapy studies in 2003. I definitely incorporated that during my rehab after my 3rd knee surgery done in Adelaide, South Australia.

Back to running backwards. I was naturally pleased to find that an article I read recently found some intriguing benefits. There was an increase both in aerobic and anaerobic demands when running backwards, which can be a good and significant form of training stimulus while running at lower speeds.

Running at lower speeds means it's less taxing on your muscles and joints. You're less likely to get injured. The maximum running speed while running backwards is approximately 70 percent of forward running speed. 

There is also an increase rate in force development and vertical leg stiffness which may help improve running economy.

There are decreased loads on the knee, very good news if you have knee pain and a good form of cross training. This is possibly due to reduced stride length and increased step rates compared to forward running. Definitely beneficial if you're over striding or taking too big steps.

There is also increased activation of quadriceps, hamstringsgastrocnemius and tibialis anterior
with some evidence that it may strengthen these muscles.

Other than my own personal experience, there is empirical evidence to support the use of backward running in training programs both to prevent injuries and improve performance. It can be used as part of warm up for runners and especially for team sports like football, basketball, hockey etc where backward running is essential. 

I did my almost all of my backward runs after my 'normal' runs barefoot on grass, in case you were wondering.


Uthoff A, Oliver J, Cronin J et al (2018). A New Direction To Athletic Performance: Understanding The Acute And Longitudinal Responses To Backward Running. Sports Med 48(5). DOI: 10.1007/s40279-018-0877-5

Saturday, April 1, 2023

April Fool's Day

Our clinic was quiet when I saw my first patient at 830 am today. When I saw my next patient at 9 am, there was a long, long queue past our clinic. The queue started outside Tiong Bahru Bakery (TBB), they are located 2 doors down from our clinic.

Turns out that TBB was giving a free croissant if you buy a drink (limited to 2 per customer). NOT an April Fool's day joke. 

By the time I left the clinic after 4 pm, the line was still going strong. Definitely a very good marketing strategy by TBB. This benefited our clinic too since so many people stood in line watching our patients come and go. More people now know where Sports Solutions is. Perhaps they may even complain of pain after standing so long and visit us another time.

I definitely will not queue to buy a drink to get a free croissant though. But considering how many people came by, hmmm am I the April fool here?