Blinded By The Text: Distracted Pedestrians, And Must-See Herzog

If, in the midst of driving, you get that sudden pang to check your phone, or even worse, text, don’t succumb.

That’s the message from the acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog’s latest documentary about texting while driving — the “must-see” video of the weekend.  The 30-minute flick, on view above, depicts harrowing testimonials of victims, their family members and perpetrators whose decision to keep their eyes on their phones instead of the road had egregious consequences.

Texting while driving is a dangerous trend that is sparking new legislation banning the practice in numerous states including Massachusetts.  On the rise, however, is another cellphone-related public danger – but one that doesn’t get as much attention as texting in the driver’s seat – texting while walking.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to a study published in the journal Injury Prevention, texting and

talking on cellphones while on foot – or “distracted walking” — was the cause of approximately 1,500 injuries in 2010 – which up from 550 injuries in 2004. This study is mentioned in a number of articles that have started popping up on the public safety risks of  pedestrians distracted by their cellphone-use.

In a recent post, The Atlantic reported on studies that examined the attention status of pedestrians while talking on their phones:

In one experiment from a few years back, pedestrians talking on their phones recalled less of their surroundings than did regular walkers. In another test, researchers confirmed this “inattentional blindness” when they found that, compared to typical pedestrians, people talking and walking were less likely to notice even something as ridiculous as a clown on a unicycle.

Last month, an article in the Boston Globe illustrated the deviating tendencies of texting pedestrians: Continue reading

The Backlash: NYT On Yoga As A Body-Wrecker

Yoga: Panacea or Saboteur?

The backlash was inevitable.

With yoga studios sprouting up on nearly every urban corner and with practically every adult practicing some form of yoga or another (I’m one of them), the scary, anti-yoga stories were bound to emerge.

Here’s the latest: a massive piece in The New York Times Magazine called: “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” by science reporter William Broad, who has written a book on the topic.

The article’s nut graph goes like this:

According to Black, a number of factors have converged to heighten the risk of practicing yoga. The biggest is the demographic shift in those who study it. Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat cross-legged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems. Many come to yoga as a gentle alternative to vigorous sports or for rehabilitation for injuries. But yoga’s exploding popularity — the number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in 2011 — means that there is now an abundance of studios where many teachers lack the deeper training necessary Continue reading

Slideshow: Injury Prevention For Marathoners (And Others)

From an audio slide show on marathon injury prevention

Judging by the gaggles of runners on the streets these days wearing belts of little water bottles and other “I am serious” gear, final training for the April 18 Boston Marathon is in full swing.

So this informative slideshow by Anne-Marie Singh and WBUR intern Kristen Stivers seems especially timely, both for marathoners and for run-of-the-mill types heading back to the streets.

Click here for the slideshow and give it a minute to load…

10 Tips To Protect Your Back While Shoveling

The lower back is particularly vulnerable during shoveling

It was my turn to shovel this morning (and schlep the recycling to the curb) and my lower back is now rebelling.

So, for next time, or for those who have not yet ventured out, here are some tips from Dr. Julio Martinez-Silvestrini, a Baystate Medical staff physiatrist, (aka, a rehabilitation doctor) on how to avoid back injuries while shoveling.

1. Warm up a little before venturing outside (he suggests stretching or marching in place).

2. Shovel early: freshly-fallen snow is easier to deal with than the really wet, packed down variety

3. Lift smaller loads of snow, rather than heavy shovelfuls. Take care to bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than with your back.

4. Size matters: Use a shovel with a handle that lets you keep your back straight while lifting. A short handle will cause you to bend more to lift the load. Using a shovel that’s too long makes the weight at the end heavier.

5. Don’t twist. “Step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow to prevent the lower back from twisting. This will help avoid the “next-day back fatigue” experienced by people who shovel snow.”

6. If possible, push the snow away instead of lifting it.

7. Take frequent breaks when shoveling. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back.

8. Standing backward-bending exercises will help reverse the excessive forward bending that occurs while shoveling; stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backward slightly for several seconds.

9. Most pain goes way after a day or two, Dr. Martinez-Silvestrini notes, but as to the confusion over whether to use ice or heat after injuring your back, he offers this: “Apply a cold pack as soon as possible after the injury at least several times a day for up to 20 minutes. Then apply heat after two to three days to relax your muscles and increase blood flow.”

10. This is the one I considered most seriously while I was panting in the driveway earlier: Hire the young, fit, snowplow-endowed kid down the block to do the work.

For more tips on the hospital’s web site from Dr. Martinez-Silvestrini, look here.