Monthly Archives: February 2015

February 2015
Once you’ve taken notice of the fitness industry for a few years, you notice that everything seems to move in cycles. Fads that were once old become new again in the gym, just as contemporary trends get edged out the back door to serve their time in purgatory.
There are, of course, some notable exceptions. We’re talking about the fitness gadgets and concepts that are so utterly ridiculous they get forcibly ejected from the great communal gym and have their membership revoked indefinitely.
All of these promise to alleviate the issue of hard work from the end user, who can instead sit back and enjoy the benefits. And all of them fail entirely (well, most of them fail entirely, but we’ll get to that) …
1. Air Shorts
During the 1970s there was a craze toward huge inflatable shorts that looked a bit like an oversized nappy.
The idea was simple: wearing them would help us sweat off unwanted body fat whilst giving a unique massage through trapped air pockets. In practice, things got a little more complex. To begin with, they were super uncomfortable and so hot that you would sweat profusely all day. And then there was the strange lack of weight loss. The idea that you can sweat off your blubber comes up time and time again in the fitness industry – but it’s a myth born from the fact that weight class athletes like boxers use saunas to make a certain weight come weigh-in. Yes, they ‘cut’ their weight, but it’s incredibly temporary, designed only to beat the scales for one evening. As soon as the boxers – or the Air Shorts wearers – drink water after a sweaty workout, their bodies retain it to rehydrate and the pounds pile back on. 2. Weight Loss Sunglasses Got uncontrollable food cravings? Fix your grub lust by donning a pair of fetching blue sunglasses. As blue is an unappetising colour (apparently), you’ll instantly have control over your diet and nutrition. Easy! OK, not so easy. Even if there is some data to back up the idea that the colour blue puts our appetite on ice, the weight loss sunglasses are addressing the wrong issue. Shedding stones is about building the self-discipline that can help us resist foods that we know are bad for us, not switching off our urge for sustenance like a light bulb. The efficacy of the sunglasses is further confounded by the role smell plays as the most important sense in our attraction to food. I suppose you could always combine the glasses with a clothes peg over your nose. You might want to swerve dinner dates for a little while though. 3. Treadmill Bike If this is not the greatest example of solving a problem that didn’t exist in the first place, I don’t know what is! Essentially a running machine welded onto a bike frame, it allows you to take all the benefits of a treadmill outdoors (also known as jogging). I shudder to think about the product’s safety record. You’d think that for every user who troubled their ankle joints on the treadmill bike, a car bumper got bent thanks to a driver thinking they were hallucinating. 4. Electronic Ab Belts These are still on the market so I won’t mention any specific names – but all electronic ab belts do in general is tap into our natural laziness. Don’t get me wrong, laziness as a human trait can lead us to innovate and create amazing strides forward. Just think of the wheel. Unfortunately, ab belts are way down on the opposite side of the scale. Ten or so years ago every self-respecting middle-class family had one of these, which send a gentle electronic pulse sent directly into the abs while you watch television. Marvellous. There was only one drawback – and by now you really should have guessed what it was. That’s right. They didn’t work! Even the strongest abs in the world can’t be seen if they’re hidden behind body fat. And since not many people who would seek ab development from sitting watching television tend to be particularly lean, the ab belts created a generation of toned abs sat hidden behind a normal layer of blubber. Marketers like to tell us that we can have something for nothing, but your body really doesn’t work like that. Sorry. 5. Prancercise (Original – Prancercise: A Fitness Workout) The brainchild of one Joanna Rohrback, Prancercise uses a springy, elation-induced gait, much like a jolly horse, to literally prance around and get fit. It gets a lot of bad press, thanks to the strange movement and the promotional techniques used, but it could just be a stroke of genius. Anyone who can get 11 million views on their promotional video is formidable force in the marketplace. From an exercise science point of view, it’s the only trend on this list that definitely works. It may look at bit strange, but Prancercise probably falls within the 105-120BPM fat burning zone for most people – and Joanna does look very happy. In my book, anyone who gets people moving and enjoying safe, fat burning exercise is doing a good job. Prancercise involves prancing like a horse to lose weight. Anyone who disagrees is a neiiiiiighsayer. And finally … a humble prediction I don’t think it will be long before we are all following (or being chased by) some kind of robotic technology. Drones cold easily allow us to follow race paces or act as a ghost that runs at our own PB around a given course, just like in a car racing computer game. Watch this space … Source

February 2015

You will lose toenails, you will gain weight and wisdom, and there will almost certainly be chafing in surprising places, explains Chas Newkey-Burden.

Marathon Runners1. You take to rising at dawn for long pre-work runs. When you get to the office you’re so exhausted and full of testosterone that you have arguments with absolutely everyone.  2. Your jawline and neck start tightening and you regularly admire yourself in mirrors. 3. You share your fundraising page online so often that everyone un-follows you on Twitter and hides you on Facebook.

4. Whenever you do interval training (short bursts of sprints mixed with gentle jogging) someone extremely attractive is always walking in front of you. This means you look at best like a man trying and failing to impress them. Or at worst like you’re considering, but then reconsidering, making some sort of sweaty pass at them.

5. You lose any spenders’ guilt and splash out on kit, gadgets, pills and gels. You even use some of them. 6. As your alcohol tolerance level plummets to that of a teenage experimenter, you arrive at full-blown, slurred confessional stage somewhere towards the end of your second pint. 7. During an icy snap you are forced to do your training indoors on a treadmill. Just five minutes into a two-hour run you are already bored to tears. 8. You get a cold. 9. You quickly re-write your perspective on distance. A half marathon, something you’d previously spend six months preparing for, is now a distance you nonchalantly complete on Tuesday evenings. 10ks become kids stuff. 5ks? What even are they? 10. You suffer from chafing in the most inconvenient bodily zones. 11. During a long run you get all giddy and find yourself struck by an epiphany. You get home and share with your partner your new business pitch / screenplay idea / peace plan for the Middle East. They scarcely understand a word you’re saying. 12. When you get injured you are secretly thrilled. It gets you a week’s guilt-free rest and you can talk about your strain as if you were a top-flight footballer. 13. You compile a playlist of power songs to play (Eye Of The Tiger, Simply The Best etc) when you need a special psychological boost. You cross your fingers nobody finds it. 14. You get carb-loading wrong and for a day or so the only running you get done is to the toilet. 15. Weather forecasts become your new obsession. There is no weather app you don’t download. 16. You become familiar with the defence mechanisms of overweight non-runners. “I heard it destroys your knees; 26 miles just seems unnatural; rather you than me…” Don’t worry, they waddle off in the end. 17. At least once a fortnight, some wag shouts: “Run, Forrest, run” at you. 18. Exhausted all the time, you leave social gatherings as early as politeness permits. You start to prefer quiet nights in, watching TV. You generally fall asleep in front of the box somewhere around 8pm. 19. You get another cold. 20. You start your Sunday morning runs so early that you encounter revellers still out from the night before. You were that guy once. 21. You get lost during runs, discovering hidden parts of your neighbourhood and feeling like Christopher Columbus. 22. As your training programme nears its peak, to your horror you realise that you’re actually putting on weight. Thanks to an increase in muscle mass and glycogen storage, plus your tendency to crash out after a long run, you begin to gain, rather than lose, pounds. 23. You do, however, lose at least one toenail. 24. You keep yourself motivated by imagining yourself on race day, striding triumphantly towards the finish line, as your proud friends and family cheer you on from the side. (None of them will turn up on the day.) 25. With three weeks to go, you taper – drastically reducing your weekly mileage. Even though this is recommended by almost every expert in the world, it feels so wrong. 26. Finally, you reach the end of your exhausting, bewildering training programme. Pat yourself on the back – you did it! Now you just have the small matter of the 26.2 miles to complete… Source

February 2015
Get your hike on!An uphill hike beats an hour on the squeaky treadmill any day. A clear head, a fit body and even more exploration of America’s Finest City? Let’s get to it. There’s a trail for everyone in San Diego, from the picturesque walking paths of Torrey Pines State Reserve to the plunging hills of Three Sisters Falls. Lace up those hiking boots and pack some extra trail mix for the ten best hikes in San Diego.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

The Razor Point trail (1.3 miles) or Guy Fleming Trail (0.7 miles) both offer dramatic, picturesque views of the big blue with easy trails accessible to almost anyone. In the winter, you might spot Gray Whales or bottlenose dolphins throughout the year. There’s also a Beach Trail (1.7 miles), which is a bit steeper and allows access to the beach. Length: 1-2 miles, depending on trail // Difficulty: Easy Getting there: Take Hwy 5 to Carmel Valley Road, go west to Camino Del Mar and go south about one mile to the reserve entrance at the foot of the hill.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail

With a relatively tranquil route, the Los Penasquitos Canyon hike is great for all ages and skill levels, without skimping on some impressive natural sights. Waterfalls, year-round streams and creek crossings abound throughout the trail. Keep your eyes open – you might just see a deer walking the path. Length: 4.7 miles // Difficulty: Easy Getting there: Exit the 15 Freeway on Mira Mesa Blvd. Head west and make a right on Black Mountain Rd. Follow it north and take a left on Canyonside Rd. Parking is available here.

Cowles Mountain

Cowles Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in San Diego. Sure, it has its steep switchbacks (the trail leads to the highest point within San Diego), but almost anyone can get through it with enough determination. There’s no spectacular greenery here, but the views are pretty picture-worthy. Keep an eye out for snakes crossing the path. Length: 3 miles // Difficulty: Moderate Getting there: Take Interstate 8 to the College Avenue exit. Proceed north on College Avenue to Navajo Road. Turn right and proceed on Navajo Road to Golfcrest Drive. Turn left on Golfcrest Drive to enter parking lot.

Iron Mountain Trail

Don’t let the name intimidate you. In Poway, this boulder-lined trail is manageable for most hiking levels, making it ultra-popular on weekends. While it begins flat, the climb creeps into the eastern mountains and rewards hikers with panoramic vistas. Pack your sunscreen; little shade is offered. To increase difficulty, additional trails are optional throughout the way to other peaks. Length: 5.8 miles // Difficulty: Moderate to difficult Getting there: Highway 67 and Poway Road. There is a small gravel parking area on the side of the highway.

Cuyamaca Peak Loop Trail

For the hiker searching for a rewarding view with various options, this one’s for you. There’s an array of routes to choose from to get to the top of Cuyamaca Peak, including the Azalea Glen Loop, Conejos Trail, West Side Trail and the Azalea Springs Fire Road. Located near Julian, you’ll come across everything from fallen forest trees to granite rocks and expansive views of the mountains and valleys below. Length: 6.7 miles // Difficulty: Moderate to difficult Getting there: From I-805S, take I-8W and exit CA-79N/ Japatul Valley Rd toward Julian. Continue on CA-79N and park at the Paso Picacho Campground ($8 per day).

Lake Poway to Mount Woodson

It’s all about the photo opp here. Okay, not totally, but the death-defying “Potato Chip Rock” can be held responsible for bringing hordes of hikers to Mount Woodson just to snap a pic on the sliver of granite rock hovering over San Diego. The hike itself is strenuous and should be started early in the day. It begins around Lake Poway, and quickly steepens straight to the top with little relief. Ample water and snacks are recommended. Length: 6.4 miles // Difficulty: Hard Getting there: From Espola Road, go to the Lake Poway entrance. Parking is $5 for the day.

Cedar Creek Falls to Devil’s Punchbowl

With one of the most spectacular destination points, the Cedar Creek Falls Trail also comes with a precautionary warning. Devil’s Punchbowl – the swimming hole at the end of the trail – has witnessed multiple deaths over the years from cliff jumpers. A massive waterfall pours into the natural pool, surrounded by 75-foot cliffs. On this trail, the way down is easy, but it’s the way back that’s uphill. Note: Guests need to purchase a $6 pass prior to visiting. Length: 4.2 miles // Difficulty: Hard Getting there: 15531 Thornbush Road, Ramona. Once you get to the end of Thornbush Road, the trail head will be on your left.

Mission Trails Regional Park: Oak Canyon Trail

Options are endless at this urban national park, with more than 40 miles of trails near Kumeyaay Lake and Lake Murray. One of the most popular, Oak Canyon Trail, offers a sycamore and oak-lined ravine winding north from the Old Mission Dam. A babbling stream accompanies hikers and the route drops deep into the canyon. Length: 3 miles // Difficulty: Easy to moderate Getting there: The trail head is accessible from the Old Mission Dam parking lot. Walk down the pathway to the San Diego River, cross the bridge and begin.

Double Peak Trail

Starting at Discovery Lake Park in San Marcos, this loop trail combines moderate steepness with restful views. At the top of the 1,644-foot summit, hikers are treated to a spectacular 360-degree view of the North County area. A majority of the trail was effected by the fires, so don’t expect much shade. The first mile is paved and then turns into a rougher single track. Dogs are welcome! Length: 5 miles // Difficulty: Moderate Getting there: Start at Lakeview Park off Foxhall in Discovery Hills. Cross the spillway bridge and the Discovery Lake Dam, and head up the paved road that winds up the hill.

Three Sisters Falls Trails

Constantly named one of the most challenging hikes in the San Diego area, Three Sisters Falls follows steep inclines and rocky terrain. Ropes throughout the route are secured to help visitors climb up and down. This is not for the faint of heart; rock and boulder climbing is a required skill to make it to the Three Sisters Falls. Bring ample water. Length: 4 miles // Difficulty: Extremely hard Getting there: The trailhead in located on Boulder Creek Road where Cedar Creek road intersects. You can park at this intersection, and follow the trail west along a ridge until you see another trail intersect to the south to take. Source

February 2015
ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.
Active Release TechniqueHow do overuse conditions occur?
Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:
  • acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc),
  • accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
  • not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia).
Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness. What is an ART treatment like?
Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.
These treatment protocols – over 500 specific moves – are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. ART is not a cookie-cutter approach. What is the history of Active Release Techniques?
ART has been developed, refined, and patented by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP. Dr. Leahy noticed that his patients’ symptoms seemed to be related to changes in their soft tissue that could be felt by hand. By observing how muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves responded to different types of work, Dr. Leahy was able to consistently resolve over 90% of his patients’ problems. He now teaches and certifies health care providers all over the world to use ART.
If you believe ART can help you, don’t hesitate to book with one of our expert practitioners by clicking here.

February 2015
Here at FIX Body Group, our passion is getting you back to doing what you love to do, pain-free.  The Runner’s Box is the newest addition to our repertoire of tools for doing just that. Jonathan Pierce, our Soft Tissues Department Head has this to say about it.
“The Runner’s box is a foot strengthening tool for non-runners and runners alike, anyone with a foot condition or people who spend a lot of time restricted in shoes and on very predictable surfaces.  The box is filled with stones that when walked upon force the toes and foot to behave differently, to work harder and build up the small muscles deep in the bottom of the foot.  It also relieves the ligaments and joints of the foot as they have unusual pressure and stress placed on them.  Patients can do specific drills and protocols to build foot proprioception and strength.”
For more information on exactly what the Runner’s Box can do for you, give us a call!  You can also email Jonathan directly at  Pictured below. Runner's Box

February 2015
Did you know that FIX Body Group offers Cold Tub Therapy absolutely free?  We care about you and your health.  Just click here to make an appointment! Marathoners, tri-athletes, and shorter distance runners are very prone to pain and injuries due to the high level of intense activity. High-level training puts an immense stress on the body and recovery can often be painful and lengthy. For decades athletes have relied on ice baths to aid in recovery after tough workouts. The cold water shocks the body to shorten recovery times. Cold Plunge TherapyWhen you put your body through intense training, your muscles experience micro trauma and the fibers actually break, which leads to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). The muscles then repair these tiny breaks and strengthen the muscle in the process. While this is a good thing, it can cause a large amount of pain. This is where many athletes turn to ice baths. In the short period that athletes sit is the ice bath the cold temperatures of the ice water aid in reducing swelling and constricting blood flow in the muscles. Then once the athlete comes out of the cold water, their blood flow increases significantly. The increase in blood flow to the muscles allows them to recover in less time than if just left alone. Studies have shown that ice baths and contrast water therapy (when the athlete alternates between hot and cold baths) can be beneficial for many athletes’ recovery times. Runners, marathoners, tri-athletes, cyclists, and any one else performing intense muscle and endurance training should consider adding a cold plunge to their post training routine. Source

February 2015
If any of these sound familiar, raise the alarm and head to FIX Body Group to consult with one of our on-staff, professional physical therapists. It’s a runner’s worst fear: you’re running when it suddenly feels as if something jumped up and bit you in the calf. You tore a muscle. Do you need physical therapy?The good news is that with rest and rehab, you’ll be back on the road in no time. However, some injuries are not so obvious and can be trickier to treat — that nagging pain in your left glute or the ache in your right knee that starts 45 minutes into every run. How do you know when the injury is serious and requires a visit to a physical therapist? Ashleigh Bordwell, a PT at Rehab United in San Diego, offers six ways to determine when it is time to see a physical therapist. 1. Pain lingers after three or four days of resting and icing At the onset of any ache or pain, the best plan of attack is to take a few days off from the sport that brought on the injury and spend 20 minutes several times a day icing the affected area. “The best thing with any injury is to give yourself a few days off,” Bordwell explained. “And then get back into your sport to see if your symptoms have gone away or if they’re still occurring.” If you have taken several days of rest and the pain continues to come back, it is time to see a physical therapist. 2. Reoccurring dull pain Pain often subsides with rest and icing. But with more serious injuries, symptoms will repeatedly come back and linger until the underlying injury has been addressed. 3. One traumatic event Some injuries, such as muscle tears and broken bones, are easy to spot, as they are brought on by one traumatic event. “If you watched yourself roll your ankle and it swelled up, or after swimming, you slipped and fell getting out of the pool, you’re going to want to come in and get it checked out,” said Bordwell. 4. Meds don’t control the pain |Many endurance athletes are used to aches and pains. “It comes with the territory of being an endurance athlete,” Bordwell admitted. However, if over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain-relief drugs aren’t offering any reprieve, get it checked out. 5. Pain is acute and sharp Dull, lingering pain is most likely treatable with rest and ice. But if the pain is sharp and centralized, this can be an indication of a more serious injury such as a muscle pull or stress fracture. 6. Noticeable or visible changes You know your body best, and the more experienced you become, the more in tune you’ll become with your body. “If at the end of a day of training you notice your ankle is swollen or if you can’t pull as well on your left arm as your right when swimming, you’re going to cause one injury to get worse or cause another injury if you don’t see a PT,” Bordwell said. Source

February 2015
Sports injury rehabilitation is all about getting back in the game quickly and with optimal health. A relatively new tool for the treatment of sports injuries is finding global success, and it is doing so in a fast, efficient way. In fact, Dr. Oz has called it the “no-pill pain buster.” Cold Laser TherapyTrauma from sports injuries causes damage to the cells that make up soft tissues. These damaged cells release chemicals that provoke a natural inflammatory response in the body, which result in redness, swelling, warmth and pain in the injured area. Persistent or recurrent inflammation can predispose athletes to early-onset arthritis or degenerative changes in their joints. This condition can affect the weekend warrior to the elite athlete. The application of cold laser therapy, officially known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT) reduces short-term inflammation. Additionally, laser therapy significantly lowers the risk of arthritis frequently resulting from sports injuries. Laser therapy is used by professional sports teams and athletes to treat inflammation, provide deep-tissue therapy, and accelerate pain relief to help athletes minimize downtime. For the past decade, LLLT has revolutionized treatment in the professional sports world including NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and USA Cycling athletes, as well as Ironman triathlon competitors, competitive runners, college athletes, former Olympic athletes, and elite cross-fitters. Mechanism of Action LLLT works to photobiostimulate chemically damaged cells via specific wavelengths of light in a coherent manner. Coherence means that light photons propagate in the same direction, amplitude and phase. This is important to maximize the depth of penetration in order to trigger a biological response. The cell membrane within the skin absorbs these photons via a photochemical effect, not photothermal; therefore, LLLT does not cause heat damage to the tissues. When cells are chemically damaged through injury, they stimulate the pain cycle. LLLT excites kinetic energy within the cells by transmitting these healing stimuli that are photons. Once photons reach the cells of the body, they promote a cascade of cellular activities. LLLT can ignite the production of enzymes, stimulate mitochondria, increase vasodilation and lymphatic drainage, ATP synthesis, and elevate collagen formation substances to prevent scar tissue. This is a critical step in reducing chronic, disabling myofascial pain syndromes. Simply stated, LLLT enables athletes to get out of pain faster and heal at the same time. Literature Support I have found the laser to be a superior tool for the rehabilitation of athletes. LLLT is a scientifically proven and effective treatment for a wide range of sports injuries, including acute and chronic pain; neck and back pain; bursitis; jumper’s knee; tennis elbow; Achilles tendonitis; chronic joint pain of the elbow, wrist, and fingers; plantar fasciitis; and shoulder injuries. As supported by the literature in the field, I see consistent results with my athletic patients for a variety of conditions:
  • Low-level laser therapy is an effective treatment for sports injuries, particularly jumper’s knee, tennis elbow and Achilles tendonitis.
  • Low-level laser therapy has been recommended as a treatment option for tennis elbow.
  • Low-level laser therapy reduces pain after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment.
  • Low-level laser therapy has positive effects on exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue and changes in biochemical markers related to post-exercise recovery.
  • A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial showed that LLLT and exercise therapy is more effective than exercise therapy alone for the purposes of improving pain and active / passive ROM in patients with subacromial syndrome.
  • LLLT has been shown to be effective for treating chronic neck and shoulder pain, as well as chronic heel pain from plantar fasciitis.
The ease of using the laser and the speed with which the athletes respond are key features of LLLT. Most laser treatment sessions last from just three to five minutes. In my experience, its versatility is unmatched because it can be a stand-alone treatment or used in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments, soft-tissue release, instrument-assisted treatments, elastic therapeutic tape or any rehab-oriented protocol. An Example: Ankle Sprains One specific application for LLLT is ankle sprains, which have an 80 percent recurrence rate and high rates of subsequent chronic symptoms. The most frequently seen ankle injury is an ankle inversion sprain. There are a host of causes and risk factors for ankle sprains; a previous history of ankle sprain is the most common risk factor. I’ve found LLLT to be instrumental in reducing the swelling and tissue damage that are typically associated with an acute ankle sprain. I’ve seen recovery times that have been literally decreased by days. Chronic ankle sprains is where the benefits of LLLT can truly be seen. Interestingly, most athletes with chronic ankle sprains have a proprioceptive deficit in that injured ankle. Proper proprioceptive exercises coupled with laser therapy have enabled many of my athletes to avoid the recurrence so commonly seen with the injury. After an ankle sprain, there is a significant delay in the onset of activation of the gluteus maximus on the injured side. LLLT applications to the gluteal regions have helped facilitate the gluteus maximus muscle in chronic ankle sprains. Low-level laser therapy has varied benefits and functions as a superior alternative to analgesics, NSAIDs, medications and other modalities. Furthermore, LLLT reduces the need for surgery and has virtually no contraindications. Highly effective, non-invasive and safe, LLLT is easy to implement in any chiropractic setting. In my many years of practice dealing with high-school, college, and professional athletes, I have found LLLT to be the best means for rapid recovery and increased performance from a sports injury. I consider it the most efficient, most versatile tool of the 21st century for sports injuries. Source

February 2015

Try one of these top rated, inspiring sports movies to get your game face on for the upcoming week!

1. “Raging Bull”: A brilliantly directed epic about misanthropy that is propelled by a great story, more-than-credible action and fascinating, doomed relationships. And Robert De Niro won an Oscar as best actor.

2. “Hoosiers”: Understated prototype of the inspirational sports film — plucky teenage underdogs, a coach (Gene Hackman) with a subtly effective pregame speech and a cast that plunges you back into 1950s small-town Indiana.

3. “Bull Durham”: An easygoing comedy and love triangle, this 1988 film offers a realistic picture of minor league baseball, terrific game action and intelligent screenwriting.

4. “Million Dollar Baby”: A twist on the conventional boxing story — a woman at its center and a late-career Clint Eastwood as a nurturer — that makes you cheer and cry. It won four Academy Awards in 2005: for best picture, best director (Eastwood), best actress (Hilary Swank) and best supporting actor (Morgan Freeman).

5. “Rocky”: From 1976, a great underdog story that inspired many others; it makes moviegoers believe that a downtrodden pug can stand toe to toe with the Ali-like Apollo Creed.

Gene Hackman, center, was the coach of the underdog high school basketball team in “Hoosiers.” Credit Tom Strickland/Associated Press

6. “Field of Dreams”: I love the inventiveness and whimsy in this 1989 film. I love when the players enter and depart from the corn field. I love James Earl Jones’s speech and Burt Lancaster’s philosophical doctor. But I’ve never loved the plot device that sets up Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) playing catch at the end with his ghost father.

7. “A League of Their Own”: An abundance of memorable characters (if nothing else, think of the maturation of homely Marla Hooch) and great relationships (Geena Davis and Lori Petty as the sisters at the heart of the story who are driven by different motivations) make for a compelling film from 1992. And Tom Hanks’s boozy Jimmy Dugan is one of the best portraits of a manager or coach in cinema.

8. “The Natural”: Barry Levinson’s golden-hued 1984 film, where good (Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs) defeats evil (the gambler, the team owner and the columnist/cartoonist played by Robert Duvall) works as a fairy tale — but as you watch, you have to forget that Bernard Malamud’s novel ends in shame, not glory.


More than 70 years after its release, in 1942, “The Pride of the Yankees” remains memorable despite its many liberties with the truth. CreditAssociated Press

9. “The Pride of the Yankees”: Some of it feels hokey, but it still has a good story, a loving portrait of a marriage and Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man” speech, delivered by Gary Cooper. More than 70 years after its release, in 1942, it remains memorable despite its many liberties with the truth.

10. “The Hustler”: A matchup of young and old pool sharks (Jackie Gleason, who was an underrated dramatic actor, and Paul Newman) is a dark and crackling story with the tension of a prizefight set amid a collection of indelible characters.

To be honest, I struggled with No. 10. I thought of putting “Cinderella Man” into that slot, or the Academy Award-winning “Chariots of Fire,” with its ear worm theme music and slow-motion running. “Seabiscuit,” “Moneyball” and “Remember the Titans” were viable options, too. I wondered about “Brian’s Song,” a made-for-TV movie that has some of the makings of a classic — the emotional bromance between Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo and Sayers’s speech that asked an audience to love Piccolo as he loves him. But for various reasons, such as “Titans” seeming to have had a checklist for every possible element that should be included in a sports film, these movies fail to make the cut.

Had I included documentaries, “Hoop Dreams” would have supplanted one of the top 10. Finally, I also considered “Caddyshack,” but in a recent viewing I felt that the snobs versus snobs plot was not consistently funny (Rodney Dangerfield was better and more central in “Back to School”) and that the romantic subplot was tepid. More than anything, I wished for more of Bill Murray’s improvisations.