Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hard to Take Your Own Medicine

I often have to tell injured athletes that they will miss an important game, meet, or tournament. Part of playing sports, I tell them, is dealing with setbacks and adversity. Fortunately for me, I have had very few of these setbacks to deal with during my running career. I have been amazingly injury free. This weekend, however, I sprained my MCL and badly bruised my medial femoral condyle in, of all things, a paddle board accident. It should heal fully in a few weeks, but I am registered for the Sandhills Marathon in Valentine, NE this Saturday. I can't roll over in bed without searing pain in my knee. It is hard to imagine that it will feel that much better by Saturday. My training  has been going really well, too. I put in 59.5 miles last week, peaking for the marathon this weekend. The race was supposed to be a long training run for my 50 mile trail race in September. Unless my knee feels a lot better soon, I will miss my first race due to injury in 20 years. I guess I will understand that much better how my patients feel and deal with disappointment.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dr. Swanson's Lifestyle Rx

Dr. Swanson’s Lifestyle Rx

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."  -Thomas Edison

I firmly believe that lifestyle is a cause of many of our medical ailments, including foot and ankle pain. Try these simple, inexpensive, low-risk lifestyle solutions.


I am not simply talking about weight loss, although that is important, too. If you are over your ideal body mass index (BMI), weight loss can be very beneficial. With certain activities, your foot & ankle is subject to many times your body weight. Thus, even a minor change in your weight can profoundly affect the stresses placed on your foot and ankle. Regardless of your weight, my research has convinced me that a whole foods, plant based diet is the way to achieve optimum health and may help cure many bodily aches and pains, without the need for drugs or surgery. There are many stories of amazing transformations that have occurred when patients adopt a whole-foods, plant based diet. The best advice I ever heard is from author Michael Pollan, who wrote, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”


It has been said that, “sitting is the new smoking.” While this may be a slight exaggeration, too many of us live sedentary lives and do not get enough exercise. To improve your health, I recommend at least 30 minutes of low impact aerobic activity daily. If that is too much, start with 5 minutes. This can be something as simple as going for a walk, raking leaves, shoveling snow, or working in your garden. Other activities might include swimming or biking. For most people, some sort of strength or resistance training is helpful, too. If you have a heart condition, please check with your primary care doctor or cardiologist before beginning an exercise program!


We are learning a lot about the negative effects of stress on the body. Meditation is one of the best ways to prevent or manage stress. Modern neuroscience is just now catching up with this centuries old tradition. There are many scientifically proven benefits to meditation, and I can personally vouch for it’s effectiveness. I recommend starting with a simple breathing meditation. Start with just 5 minutes a day and stick with it! If possible, work up to 10-20 minutes daily.


Books: The Omnivores Dilemma
            In Defense of Food
            The China Study
            Engine 2 Diet
            How Not to Die

Websites: nutritionfacts.org

Documentary: Forks Over Knives

Podcast: The Rich Roll Podcast