Semper Fi!

Embarrassingly I didn’t know exactly what that meant until looking it up in Wikipedia.  I Always thought it sounded cool but if I am going to start screaming it like everyone else, a good scream can be fun, I thought I should at least know what it meant.  ‘Always faithful,’ sounds good to me.  I thin k I get it now.  When a task may seem daunting, overwhelming, impossible, SEMPER FI!  When you are tired and want to give up, SEMPER FI!  When it seems easier to just take a day off, SEMPER FI!

This faith is required when undertaking a lifestyle of health and fitness and likewise setting high goals for yourself.  It is never, ‘easy.’  BUT, with unwavering belief in yourself, in the plan, in knowing no matter what, you are going to find a way to your goal.  It’s about not giving up even when you fail.  Stand up, shake youself off, stand up and fight again.  A sub par plan well executed with belief is better than the perfect plan with doubts and limiting beliefs any day.

I was speaking with a client this morning about how another client came back and nailed a very difficult lift after getting humiliated by the same weight just seconds before.  He laughed and said he had a short term memory.  Maybe like those fish that have a 3 second memory.  It sounded good to me.  SEMPER FI, he grabbed the bar and nailed the next lift as if the failure 5 seconds before never even happened.  It didn’t set him back or stop him from trying again.  Nice job Mr.White. SEMPER FI!

I may have the TRUE meaning of SEMPER FI off by a bit, but for me this gives me a glimpse of what it might be to be on the battle field and fighting for a cause.  In my small world that battle field is the gym or taking control of your own health.  But, to the men and women who have given their lives so that I may pursue my dreams I am sure this has a meaning all of it’s own.  And excuse me for my naive understanding, but let me just say THANK YOU!  This Majuscule is dedicated to you!


P.S.: We like to play “War” at The Lab sometimes…we call it BOOTCAMP!   These guys definitely have a little of their own SEMPER FI and will basically do anything;)  Below Dr Exercise is back for more describing good vs bad pain…you will need a little SEMPER FI to handle and get through both…but, know the difference!

Enjoy this Majuscule!



Make it Hurt!?

By Dr Gina LaMonica

Justin: “How is everyone doing?”

Boot-campers: (half dazed and panting) “Make it hurt!”

But wait!  Justin’s not actually trying to HURT us, right??  I mean, he may put on his hard-ass pants every now and then, but surly injury is not a part of his agenda.

Identifying the difference between ‘good hurt’ and ‘bad hurt’ is an important tool for all of us to toss into our brain-bags.  This goes for the novice gym go-er, the sweat-a-holics, and even the casual treadmill user.


Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite terms: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  We can call it ‘DOMS’ for short. DOMS is that stiff and sore feeling in our muscles often experienced 24-48 hours after getting our butts kicked. As a boot camp junkie and occasional marathoner, DOMS is my old pal and even my badge of courage.  A groan as I stand from the couch or climb up a step reminds me of what a bad-ass I am.

What causes DOMS?

In short, no one knows for sure ß  annoying, right?  Often, we blame lactic acid (or ‘lactate’) as the culprit.  Lactic acid is a byproduct of ‘anaerobic’ exercise — happens when our oxygen intake can’t keep up with energy demands.  But is it indeed the evil genius behind DOMS?

Evidence says ‘no’.1

So allow me to attempt to clear its tarnished name:  Lactic acid levels do increase following a vigorous workout, but will return to normal after 30-60 minutes.1 Therefore, it couldn’t logically be blamed for symptoms felt hours later, thus clearing it of all charges.

(You’re welcome, lactic acid!!)

Our best guess is that DOMS is actually the little bugger resulting from reinforcement process of muscle hypertrophy. (Word of the day: Hypertrophy = rebuilding of bigger, stronger muscles after the abuse we cause with weight training)



(This is my first weightlifting coach ever, Derrick Crass 2 time Olympian-Justin)

Ok, so what do I do about it?

Good news everyone, in this case there may be implications for pill-popping.  Assuming that DOMS has an inflammatory element, anti-inflammatory medications would be indicated.2 Therefore, NSAIDS (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen) would be justifiable.  Don’t get too excited though.  Because the causes of DOMS are debatable, we can’t be sure that inflammation-reducing drugs are the way to roll.  It has even been implicated that NSAIDS may slow the ability of muscles to repair the workout-induced damage.3 So, use your medicine cabinet with caution.

Literature also shows that stretching sore muscles has only limited success in DOMS elimination.4 (Damn you, research!)  Still, maintaining appropriate muscle length is an important fitness element and will help prevent other injuries.  Plus, it just feels nice, if only for a moment. Let us not neglect our all-important stretching! Incorporating a 5-10 minute ‘cool down’ may also help kick the DOMS before it kicks you.3

Should I train through it?

Training with DOMS would not be considered a comfortable experience.  If it is severe enough, it will put your normal movement patterns at risk.  Thus, posing potential injury of those muscles or ligaments not normally stressed but picking up the slack.2 Still, evidence suggests that “active recovery” may be your best friend after a good sweat-fest.  This may be anything from an immediate cool down – as mentioned above – or even a light workout (walking, etc) in days that follow.5,6 Generally speaking, resistance training should allow for a day or two of recovery time to allow for our little muscles to scramble together and make monster muscles.



As a physical therapist, I spend my days with the ‘bad hurts.’ In fact, pain is my arch-enemy.  I have vowed to systematically destroy my nemesis, one patient at a time.  Unfortunately, it is a hopeless battle.  Every day, I collide with osteoarthritis, torn tendons and ligaments, and wage war on bulging discs and nerve pain.

Pain is our built-in alarm system.  It is our body’s way of flagging a problem and demanding a solution.

So, what separates the good pain (discussed above) from the evil I have vowed to eliminate?  How convenient that you asked! The following list highlights some of the elements of ‘bad pain’:

1)      Pain is intractable. You reach into your bag of pain-relieving tricks — changing positions, rest, ice, heat, massage, etc.– and nothing seems to work in a significant way.

2)      Pain occurs suddenly and with a vengeance.  Example: pivoting on a fixed foot, resulting in immediate and severe pain (and often any number of expletives).

3)      Pain may be described by any of the following adjectives: stabbing, shooting, pins and needles, numbness, throbbing, or popping or clicking ßassociated with pain.

4)      Pain is accompanied with local swelling, tenderness, heat, or discoloration.

5)      Movement is impaired in a significant way.

6)      Pain does not improve over time (especially if lasting for more than the usual 48 hours expected by DOMS).

7)      Comparative weakness.  If one limb or joint is suddenly notably weaker than the opposing limb or joint, consider this to be your body waving a red flag in your face.

8)      Pain prevents participation in desired activities: assuming that your desired activity is within reason (climbing a mountain, lifting 300 lbs, or running a marathon without proper preparation or training would be considered unreasonable and -frankly – worthy of injury.).



If you are experiencing or do someday experience any of these elements listed above, seeking medical attention would be a wise move.   If any symptoms are felt during an element of your workout (i.e. squats result in knee pain), consider checking in on your form or reducing your resistance.  As noted before, pain is a vital part of our physiology.  If we ignore our natural defense mechanisms we’re likely to pay for it at some point down the road.

Now that you’ve been schooled in good pain verses bad pain…go forth and be awesome.

Make.  It.  Hurt.  (But in a good way!)

Pain is temporary, pride is forever ….

DOMS will fade, but stress fractures are no joke.


Don’t be a pussy, but stress fractures are no joke!


1. Gabriel M, Herber RD. Effects of stretching before and after exercising on muscle soreness and risk of injury: systematic review. BMJ 2002;325:468-470.

2  Anderson JC.  Delayed onset muscle soreness: treatment strategies and performance factors. Sports Med. 2003;33(2):145-64.


4. Cheung K, Hume P, Maxwell L. Physical Therapy in Sport. 2004: Vol 5:1:26-32.



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