Monday, September 18, 2017

Becoming A Performance Therapist

Performance therapy is a term that has become more mainstream in the last decade.  When I was in school, the term Sports Chiropractor was probably more common.  I can only give this article the viewpoint from the lens of a chiropractor as I have not walked the road of other professions even though I interact with them frequently.

I've been an athlete my whole life and because I was a fairly good, I was able to make a National Team in the sport of bobsled.  I had just graduated chiropractic school, so the first people I worked on were high level powerful folks.  In my world, this was the norm.  It took me almost a full year to get used to a more passive mindset in clients when I left to work in the private sector.

I've had the good fortune of working an Olympic Games, traveling the world with some really fast guys and taking part in big meets and events.  I've been able to work with lots of different sports and teams and had some amazing memories from them.

This article isn't about getting to do that.  Some of it was luck and some of it was knowing the right people, and some was the classic right place at the right time.  Sure, if the door opened and you aren't that good, you don't get asked back.  This article is about being good enough to get asked back.

Performance therapy by my definition, is therapy that perpetuates better performance.  It can be on a spectrum.  Hurt on the left.  Increased performance on the right.  Someone will present somewhere between those two points.  While performance therapy can be used to overcome injury, it is by definition treating someone not injured and looking to make that session or that race optimal.  I think the best work is done in a heavy training block and therapy is used to help recover and allow more training volume and better training sessions to happen.  I stress that not injured doesn't mean optimal.  Think of someone that is running well, but the lower back get sore after every sprint session.  Perhaps the big toe doesn't have enough motion to allow full ROM on push off at high speeds so the athlete arches their back to compensate.  Still training well, but not as fast as they could progress and are getting increased lumbar soreness.  

First a few points to remember.  This is my opinion.  Ask someone else and they may disagree on everything I'm about to tell you.  Don't ever get into the mindset that because someone works for someone or some team that they are amazing.  Just like someone driving an expensive car doesn't mean they are rich.  The outline I'm going to talk about is also not the path I took.  Many of the courses and people I've met along the way, weren't around when I was in school or on my graduation.  So in a way, even though I've taken these courses it wasn't my path.  This should tell you there are many paths, but the following path is what I tell kids when they email me asking advice on how to become a performance therapist.

Get a huge base.  You need a big base if your ever going to build a big pyramid.  Your base is what your going to spend most of your time with and it will take up most of your treatment.  All other things become less effective if you don't master the basics.  How many times have we been told, master the basics,  build a solid base, don't skip ahead.  The best course hands down for building this base is the Functional Range Release (FR).  You get very good at finding anatomy and feeling anatomy.  Locating tension and then addressing tension and tone, also differentiating mechanical tension from neural.  (This was one of my biggest mistakes on leaving school) If you develop this base well, you will be able to help a lot of people even if you never went any further with your training.  I plan on taking one every year or so, until I feel like I'm not getting anything out of it.  I'll bleed this one dry.  Get good at knowing what structure you are feeling and if what you are feeling is normal.

Get good at loading the tissue. 
Things get better when we load them.  Things get worse when we load them wrong.  Things don't improve very much or as quick if we don't load them at all.  Become a master of understanding load.  The best course is Functional Range Conditioning.  You may think I'm biased, but it probably worked out this way for a reason.  The FR originators understood that to get great results required load and the conditioning course was born.  This course goes deep into that understanding.  I mean deep.  It made me go back and read histology and cell physiology and truly enjoy it.  I will retake this course in the future.

Get good at Being Part of a Team.
A performance therapist should know about physical training.   Understand strength and conditioning.  You probably won't be the primary coach for that person or athlete, but to understand what exactly is happening during training is extremely important.  The body adapts to training, understand how your therapy can be synergistic to that.  Being able to have a competent conversation with the athlete and coach is so undervalued it's criminal.  If you end up working in a team setting, this may be the difference in being asked back.  Are you competent in being part of the triangle of performance, athlete, coach and therapist.  The best course is being offered by ALTIS, another hands down.  It's the only thing really like it that I know of.  You get to experience the triangle in action.  You can ask a therapist why they pulled an athlete after watching them in their warm up to treat X.  Then see how that treatment changed the movement or drill.  You can watch and learn as treatment, coaching and athletes response feed of each other and determine the daily dose of training.

Get good at Regression and Lateralization.
This is a term I learned from Charlie Weingroff.  Regression is taking an exercise and making it available to that athlete that can't quite do it as prescribed.  They lack hip mobility so you take a deadlift from the floor to a deadlift off blocks, this is an example of a regression.   Lateralization is a side step.  If you don't have dorsiflexion to get into a great squat position, substitute the squat for a trap bar.  Still being able to train a heavy load with out putting the athlete at risk while working on getting them dorsiflexion.  Charlies Training=Rehab series of DVD's are a tremendous resource.

Get good at Energy Systems.
Not understanding the impact that the physiology of the energy systems plays, is one of the biggest mistakes in therapy.  Getting in great aerobic shape can help the healing response and position the athlete to have better tissue quality, less prone to colds and allow more training volume.  Blood flow brings healing, build more ways for that blood to flow!  I'm currently taking Joel Jamieson's Bioforce Conditioning Coach course.  It's very good.  His book is also a tremendous resource.

Get good at Nerve Flossing.
How to address neural tension or nerves that are causing the major course of dysfunction.  Michael Shacklocks Neurodynamics course is amazing.  4 days of of insane amount of information.  Great anatomy tie ins and superb blend of teaching and hands on.  I will retake this course in the future.

Get good at Knowing What You Don't Know.
This category exists to understand when you need help.  For me, this category is stuff I want to get better at, but am currently inefficient in to give guidance at an elite level.  For example, the everyday person, I can give blood work advice on some basic stuff.  Throw in an autoimmune problem, or fluctuating patterns that I'm not confident with, I'm not going to risk their health.  Some of the systemic monitoring like HRV and omega wave and using technology like EMS are one of the pools I'm learning to swim in, but again, I don't feel confident in giving advice.

Get good at Waking Up.
I think this is a small percentage, and to be honest I'm still figuring out where it belongs in the big scheme of things. But I do think it belongs somewhere.  I put the courses fascial manipulation and Reflex Performance Reset in these.  I give RPR the nod, as it's like 1500 dollars cheaper.  I think there is an appropriate time to "wake up" tissue, like post surgery or when body awareness is low.  I currently am using it mostly in the untrained individual.  I'm finding they  have a hard time "feeling" a muscle work/contract.  Even if it is!  The body awareness is so poor that when you do exercises with them, they start biasing into what they can feel.  RPR has allowed them to have better body awareness.

Get good at Competition
I think therapists should compete in something.  I think you should understand what being at a start line, waiting for the whistle to blow, or waiting for the green light is like.  What it feels like to know your ready to compete, to also know what it feels like to know your under prepared.  To fully know the frustration of being hurt.  To know what bonking is.  To know what heat/cold feel like.  To know the highs and lows of training.  To know that most days are just showing up and putting in work and your therapy is a part of that.  Nothing special, just a part of their day.  You don't have to be good, but you have to work at something and put yourself out there.  I think athletes appreciate when they know you may know a little about their world.  It also helps from an esoteric level.  If your at a big meet/event and you can feel the energy and nervousness that is around, it helps you give a more calming, positive presence in your treatment.  If you have never felt the nerves yourself, you may get caught up in the situation and put out nervousness and feed forward that to your athlete.  So join a lifting club, enter a 5k, register for a local cyclocross race and put yourself out there.

Get good at Reading
Every talented therapist I ever met has been a voracious reader.  It's not just therapy books either.  Although you should have some solid anatomy books.  (I like Stecco's stuff)  The bigger the library the more you start to see how things fit together or intertwine and overlap.  I think this helps you start to recognize patterns and process information at a higher rate.  The more that is in your understanding the faster you can start to process information.  In a private clinic that might mean you get to see 3 people in an hour instead of 2.  At the track it may mean you get to solve a potential problem in warm up instead of interrupting the practice.  Figuring stuff out faster is important.  Train your brain to learn and be creative.  Read more and read from a broad spectrum.  Variability is a good thing for joints, heart and your reading.

This is my recommended path when kids email me.  Now I can just send them to this blog post instead of just listing some courses.  Like I said, this was my opinion.  I'm sure others would have other recommendations.  If you are a therapist that works with sports or athletes, what course have you found instrumental in your learning?


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Random Thoughts From Unicorns to Invisible Casts

I was listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast with Andy Galpin and since then a few ideas I had been thinking about, I'm thinking about more.  Heres a few.

The Fallacy of The Unicorn
Unicorns are by definitions, mythical animals that despite my 5 year olds deep desire, don't exist.  Yet many of us in the fitness/health field and a lot of our patients or athletes can fall for the unicorn.  The unicorn is something that is the panacea, the answer.  The One Thing.  When I was in high school, I thought if I found the "perfect" workout plan I'd be sure to get bigger/faster.  I was up for the latest supplement that was sure to put all the muscle on.

Even today, I'll find myself slipping into this train of thinking.  Wow, beet root supplement increased the performance by 6% on the bike.  I MUST HAVE!  But then I calm down and I think it through. Usually it goes something like this, hmm...I didn't even eat any vegetables today, lets hold off on the 50 dollar beets.  

The Unicorns strength is that it can be used to be that one thing you need that is sure to put you over the top.  It can be almost anything.  Oh, If I go Keto, I'm sure to be (insert superlatives)  If I do this magic exercise I'll never strain my muscle again.  This supplement will make me lose all the weight I've ever wanted.  

Just remember, Unicorns don't exist the next time you start getting super geeked for...


Adapting or Optimizing
While the concept isn't new, how I've thought about it has changed since the podcast.  Adapting means your training session for that day is designed to adapt to something.  Perhaps it's learning to do a harder workout with less carbs, less sleep, or even less water.  Optimizing is making things as perfect as possible to create the best environment to perform your best for that particular workout on that particular day.  Now I find myself deliberately doing both.  Adapt to get better, optimize to express your better-ness.  

Sticking with the adapt and optimize theme, Asker Jeukendrup puts out some great information.  This article "Intestinal Absorption," was about getting your body used to using carbs for a race.  You train your stomach/guts to use carbs.  If you go to long without carbs, you are teaching yourself to run on fats, which is great if you don't plan on optimizing race day.  But, if you do, start increasing your carb intake 3 days prior to your race.  It's essentially a solid article pointing us to the concept of Metabolic Flexibility.  

How To Eat
Most people that aren't in a diseased state benefit from metabolic flexibility.  Mike T Nelson is one of the leading authorities on this, if you want to dive deep into this.  Metabolic flexibility is teaching the body to run on carbs and fats.  Training in both environments.  Getting the body capable of thriving in multiple conditions.  One of the points made in the mentioned podcast was that you would never say this is the one way I'm going to train for all my goals for the rest of my life.  How boring.  Why do we do this with nutrition?  


Patient Dialogue 
As a clinician/manual therapists I've had a few incidences when the patient didn't need manual therapy, but a friend that called them out on their misguided notions.  This takes tact, because you run a good chance of losing the patient.  I don't do it often, but every now and then I just feel like I have to.  My record in these instances aren't good.   

My mentor once told me whatever you are, be that, every day.  Be consistent.  If your ornery, be that, if your quite, be that.  If your boisterous, be that.  But, don't be someone new every day.  I've always tried to do that.  He also said, you don't get to have bad days.  People are paying you to help them, not listen to your struggles, or feel your negativity.  Every now and then I've found myself losing my patience, I always feel like I've let him down, when that happens.  Be better.  

Patients that are in the most pain, are also usually the most scared.  I always try to remember that.  The ones that are the most scared are the ones that had been in pain, got better and then for some reason it came back again.  Falls, time, accident, you name it.  One of the reasons, I always try to get my patients to view themselves as athletes, is because everyone knows athletes have highs and lows, but you wake up and try to get better and better isn't usually a straight line.  

BECOME YOUR OWN ADVOCATE
Recently a patient of mine got diagnosed with stomach cancer.  It's never a great day when this news hits your ears.  He was being prepped for chemotherapy and was advised to take a protein shake to try to mitigate the muscle loss.  He asked what to take and was given something.  My patient did their own research and realized it was complete garbage and asked if I could recommend something better.  Of course.  You have to control what you get to control.  Don't leave your health to someone else. 

FUTURE OF RESEARCH
So where do you go for information?  This day and age, we are inundated with so much stuff.  It's hard to filter when you are not trained.   I can tell you the future of research is in supporting people you find doing awesome stuff and supporting them.  Patreon is a way of crowd funding people you want to help out.  I currently support a few people, Dr. Ben House a functional medical doc that consistently writes outstanding information.   Dr Rhonda Patrick that puts on very informational videos and podcast and Bill Lagakos that writes on health topics I have an interest in.  Patreon is a way of basically saying your doing great work keep it up and hopefully enough people support you to keep it going full time.  

ENDURANCE IS MIND AND BODY
This past year I've gained a new found appreciation for the endurance athletes mental game.  To be honest, I've always known the life of an endurance athlete was hard just from the amount of lonely hours practicing their sport.  Endurance often comes down to willing to suffer.  Pushing the brains impulse to let up.  Until recently I've never been "fit enough" to race though.   Recently, I've gained enough of an aerobic base where I can actually worry about racing instead of just riding.  All of a sudden a new found mental game is being played that I never had to worry about before.  Strategy, boredom, watching the competitors, going with racers, letting racers go, hydration, nutrition.  I found myself mentally tired half way into a race.  I found myself coasting instead of racing, even though my legs could go faster.  It was a very interesting realization.  Always be racing...

KOBE WAS ALWAYS TRAINING
In this video Kobe talks about losing focus in a game in high school and losing the game and the next day realizing he was letting his mind wander in Geometry class, just like he let his mind wander when he lost that game.  So teaching himself to focus in geometry was actually teaching him to stay focused, which was training him to be a better basketball player. Great lesson from one of the all time greats.


INVISIBLE CASTS IN OUR LIVES
Katie Bowman writes a lot about living in a more natural state and that we are often limited in our health of our human bodies by the "casts" we have built into our lives.  If we don't do things that help off set the casts, then we are slowly becoming less healthy as a human.  Often the casts are so inundated with our life, that we don't even think of them as "blocking," our health.  They are invisible. Shoes are a cast for the feet, go barefoot.  Chairs are casts for the hips, get down on the floor.  Modern stuff (computers, phones, walls) are casts for the eyes, focus far away through out the day.  Cars are casts for the heart.  Walk more.  In a way, casts can be quite a few things, sometimes its beneficial to do things the hard way to wake up our physiology to provide a different stimulus.  

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!



Friday, August 4, 2017

Commitment Can Be That One "Thing"

I'm a big fan of bike riding.  I can't actually remember a time when I couldn't ride my bike.  One of my first memories as a kid is my older brother taking my training wheels off and telling me I didn't need them.  Ever since, biking has been a part of my active lifestyle.  This last year has brought not only more time on my bike, but a little more commitment to training and getting more aerobically fit.

It's probably not coincidental that this was the first Tour de France I had payed attention to since Lance did his thing, then Floyd did his thing and on and on and on.  This years Tour was highly entertaining and by way of watching more I ended up reading a book about cycling by Phil Gaimon called "Pro Cycling on $10 A Day."


It was a really enjoyable read and I learned quite a bit about the subculture, the lack of money, the struggle and sacrifices that pro cyclists deal with daily.  It was far from my notion of signing a pro contract with a healthy salary.  It was more like the namesake.  I highly recommend the read as his sarcasm and literary wit comes through.

There was a page and half of writing that really resonated with me in terms of key principles.  In this one section of the book Phil describes future Cyclocross National Champion Jeremy Powers coming to see where Phil was living.  Jeremy was described as angry that his friend was not living like a pro athlete should.  "What is this?  You don't have any food.  All you eat is deli meat, sandwiches and rice cakes.  You've got to eat real food!  You don't live like an athlete!  

"You can sit here and half ass this thing, and you'll always make $20,000 a year, or you could do it right, invest in yourself, and make 10 times that.  You know you have the talent, so stop being scared!"

Phil goes on to say that it finally made sense to kick in the last 1% of commitment, in his own words..."otherwise, my sacrifices would be for nothing."

"I turned the thermostat up, bought a few bags of organic groceries, and made a weekly massage appointment.  I treated every training ride like a race, timing my breakfast to maximize my energy, with a recovery meal when I finished and as much sleep as I could get. ...If I was going to be a pro athlete, it was time to embrace it."

Those few pages speak volumes to what I think is missing in a lot of athletes lives, but even going further what is missing in a lot of peoples lives.  That 1%.  A lot of time it might be embracing what we don't like or think is that important.  Perhaps it is your cool down, you may have heard of its importance but have never paid much attention to it.  Perhaps it was sleep, one more 30 min late night talkshow won't hurt will it?  My doctor told me to walk, but walking can't really be that beneficial right? Perhaps it is the boring aerobic rowing class that your coach tells you would benefit you.  Being more aerobically fit will help out a lot with your recovery in your sport, but it meets at 6am on a Saturday and that means choosing it over a late Friday night.

Committing to the 1% will always mean different things to different people.  Whatever it is, I hope you learn to embrace it.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Providing a Measurement for Aging Well

How are you Aging?

It's not often a question you hear, but at a certain age, you will begin to think about it if you haven't already.  I've often heard the quote, "You are as old as your joint's feel."  I've often joked my back feels 50, my elbows feels 80, my neck is 20 but my right ankle is 16, so I'm not to bad when you average it all out.  Joking aside, feelings are subjective.  At the clinic, I try to promote objective measures to know if we are doing better and making progress.  A poor question is how did your back feel this morning.  A good question is, were you able to sleep though the night without the back waking you up.  The first is subjective and the later is objective.  One gives clear information that can't be misinterpreted.  If the past week has been waking up twice a night with lower back pain and last night you were able to sleep through the night, progress is being made.

How do we measure Aging?



How do we go about answering the question, are you Aging well?  I think the best way is to scour the literature and put together some agreed upon measures that have shown a correlation with all cause mortality.  Essentially, researchers go over a bunch of studies and correlate stuff.  For example, this group ate 5 fruits and vegetables every day for 15 years and they had a 38% less chance of dying from heart disease.  So, in no particular order, here are a few things to start doing and tracking.

1.  Drink coffee.  Hooray.  2-5 cups of coffee have shown to be brain protective.  This means you are less likely to derive Alzheimers and Parkinsons if you drink caffeinated coffee every day.  It has shown to perhaps be a protector of stroke in women.  This is straight black caffeinated coffee.  Leave the spoonfuls of sugar.  In two very large meta-analysis studies Parkinsons was decreased by up to 31 %.  Coffee and Parkinsons.  There are also some strong correlations with drinking coffee and keeping Alzheimers at bay.  They believe the caffeine and the antioxidants in coffee play a protective roll of some kind.

2.  Get Up!  The simple get down and get back up test has some strong corrections with lifespan as it challenges a few important things, strength, balance and flexibility.  Simply sit down on the floor without your hands or knees and get back up without your hands or knees.  If you need to use an elbow or a hand you subtract a point.  Each point subtracted corresponds to less life span.  This article explains the point system.  Sitting Test.  I think it's a nice marker.  Everyday you do it and if for some reason it starts to get hard, you figure out why.  Every day, get on the floor and get up.  Practice different ways of getting up.

3.  Grip It.  Grip is a surprising thing that has a very strong correlation with health and life.  The loss of it has been shown to be even a better predictor of all cause mortality then even systolic blood pressure.  In these studies a hand dynamometer was used and for every 5KG loss, cardio vascular, Myocardial Infarction and non CV mortality went up.  Averaging 51kg per squeeze for men and 31 for females, both around 40 years old in this STUDY.  There was a corresponding decline as we age. This was one of the few studies I found that gave data.  Now this is great, but I'm the only one of my friends with a Dynamometer.  Two suggestions.  Hang from a pull up bar and time it.  That becomes your marker.  If every couple months you time it you will have a measurement of your grip.  2nd option is purchase a 20 dollar Iron Mind Captains of Crush gripper.  If you close the "trainer" that is 60lbs of pressure.  Count how many times you can close it.  If you can get 10.  There you go, you have your data to measure against.  (Cool thing, training your grip can lower your blood pressure as well)

(84 year old Canadian man deadlifted 440LB...more then me.)

4.  Be a Stork.  Can you stand on one leg?  When I first started looking into this I thought this would be more for the risk of falls.  Falling and fracturing a hip results in 1 out of 5 dying within one year.  But this study showed that the ability to stand on one leg with your eyes closed for less then two seconds to be more of a brain health marker.  Those that couldn't after repeated trying showed a correlation with small "Silent Strokes"  View eyes closed as more of brain marker and eyes open as balance and muscle coordination marker.  Shooting for 20 seconds eyes open and more then 5 with eyes closed.

5.  Chair Squats.  Stand up and sit down 35x in a minute.  This makes sense as it takes a lot of strength and endurance to do it.  The test was done on 53 years and older.  Those that could only do the test 22x or less in the minute were twice as likely to die in the next 13 years.  If you fail it, work on getting stronger.

6.  Walk On.  Walking may be the most underrated health and fitness activity you can do.  With the plethora of pedometers and fitness trackers available these days, there is no excuse to not know how many steps you get in.  If you need some extra motivation, adopt a dog, then you have to walk him 2x a day!  The research has almost shown a linear relationship to mortality,  The more you walk the less chance you have of dying.  But, when you get over 10,000 steps a day there is a jump and you have 40% decrease in mortality.  I read an article earlier this year that showed that 15,000 steps had an amazingly correlation with health.

7.  Know Your Numbers.  High blood pressure of 140/90 is considered high.  Dropping each by 5 points correlates to 7% less mortality.  Vitamin D levels below 20nG/ML  were associated with 2.37 increased mortality rate.  Resting heart rate is another easy measurement that has some correlation with increased mortality.  After 90 beats per minute, the risk for CVD is significant.  Shoot for 70 or less.

8.  Sleep Zone.  When it comes to sleep, Goldilocks had it right, not to little, and not to much.  Under 6 hours and over 9 hours were both predictors of death.  If either is in your life, get some help to figure out why.

9.  Make Some Friends In Your Community.  One of the best and healthy things a human can do is be involved in their community.  What that means to each individual will be highly different.  Whether it is church, a gym, a bike club, a book club or anything were you get involved and share some type of bond has proven to be a highly healthy trait that is ingrained in the human soul.  It has as much evidence for lifespan as quitting smoking.  I recently just finished Sebastion Jungers great book "Tribes," in it he describes why we gravitate towards things like Crossfit gyms and why we are the most content after natural disasters when we are forced to band together to endure hardships.  In fact, during wars, mental depression and suicide go down.

10.  Keep Your Joints Healthy.  Does your shoulder move in 360 degrees of motion?  Does your hip act like a hip?  Can you laterally bend your spine?  Joints are designed for motion.  If they can't, you tend to not move as much.  As you can see, a lot of these healthy aging markers will be improved if you can keep moving.  Functional Range Conditioning was designed to keep your joints acting like joints.  Every morning moving your joints and explore their motion, this is called your Daily CARS.  Controlled Articular Rotations.  Your asking each joint, hey can you move in a circle without much discomfort.  If not, figure out why.

All these ten steps give you markers to check in on.  Some daily, some weekly some every few months.  But, like any athlete, they give you guidelines on what to work on, what to put in maintenance and what to make a high priority.  

For those over 65, I wouldn't let anything go more then a month without getting actual help. Don't let a painful knee or hip stay painful 3-4 months.  That's a significant amount of time to lose conditioning  and lose valuable muscle mass and fitness.  In fact, it is worthwhile to check in with a quality Chiropractor, PT or Strength Coach to get what legendary track coach Dan Pfaff calls a Plan B.  If an athlete is injured they don't sit it out, they work just as hard on whats called Plan B to keep them in shape and ready to compete when they are ready to return to sport.  While you work on what is bothering you with your therapist, you work on Aging well with your plan B.

In a society that seems to fear aging, perhaps it's because we have looked around and seen so many older individuals struggling with any of the dementia's, the fragility of their bodies and the inability to care for themselves.  Perhaps it is because we have been told we have the "genetics" for certain ailments.  Perhaps it's because we have this fear we will become a burden for those we love.  At the end of the day our choices our some of the main factors we have that help with these fears.  I see it every day in the clinic, vibrant 80 year olds, hanging out with their grand kids and struggling 60 years old that fear what the future holds.

These 10 choices will give you an outline or map to help bring about measurable change.  So when someone asks how you are doing you can say, "I'm aging well my friend."

PS.  Please pass this along if you know someone you want to Age Well.  Thanks!

Friday, May 12, 2017

20 Tips for After the Big Race

For many people in Grand Rapids, the Riverbank is either a yearly tradition or a one time bucket list, check that box type of race.

The 25k is a unique race in that it iss 2 miles longer then the 1/2 marathon.  On paper, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m guessing come mile 13, 2 miles and some change seems significant.  This race often represents a first time dipping the toes in this long of races for many people .    Hopefully, it all went well.  This is about the aftermath.  

NOW WHAT?

The last few years I’ve seen some pretty banged up people that all started with finishing the Riverbank.  They either jumped back to quick or didn’t address some issues that cropped up during the race.  Here are some guidelines to navigate the next two weeks following you crossing that finish line.

1.  Congrats you made it.  Hug the people that mean something, slap some high fives and get something to drink.  Try to walk a bit.  Resist the urge to just collapse and not move for 30 min.  Your job right now if you don’t need the medical tent is some movement.  You don’t want to go from racing to sitting.  You might not have the energy to do a “proper cool down” but even walking will have some big time benefits to help flush the body from racing to recovery.  

2.  Get some calories in you.  Often times your stomach is still jostling around so something heavy like a cheeseburger probably won’t be the best idea, but something simple like a banana might seem delicious.  

3.  Get more calories in you.  An hour to two hours later, you might get struck with a famished feeling.  Eat what you want, after you choose some high quality protein.  Protein helps the body recover, let’s start right off the bat.  30-50 grams.  That usually means something the size of your palm. Then eat what you want.  :)

4.  Contrast shower. You can switch 3 or 4 if you want to shower before you eat lunch.  It’s permitted.  Warm/hot shower for a minute, colder shower for as long as you can (cooler will work).  Try to go back and forth a few cycles.  This is to help speed up some flushing of your system and promote a more parasympathetic state.

5. Take a nap.  

6.  Wake up and eat some more protein and drink some more water.  

7.  Bust out that foam roller and do some rolling.  Cap it at 5 minutes.  Work the quads, hips, and calves.  Roll the bottom of the feet with a lacrosse ball.  

8.  Before bed do some gentle stretching with a rope or towel.  The purpose of this is more for relaxation then actually stretching to improve range of motion.  Something just nice and easy and focus on your breathing.  Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth.

9.  Sleep an extra hour if you can.  Sleep is our biggest recovery option available.  

10.  Wake up and drink some extra coffee.  I’m biased, but I think it helps.  

11.  The day after is 10 min of elevated heart rate that isn’t on your feet.  This can be a bike, a pool, weight lifting or even rolling on the ground with your foam roller.  Just get some blood moving.  No more then 20 minutes.  Nothing that makes you lose your breath.

12.  Keep on top of protein and hydration the next few days.  

13.  Hang out.  Literally.  Hang from a pull up bar or a tree branch for as long as you can.  Try to do this 2-3x a day.  If you don’t have access, hanging from a study door with feet on the floor can work.  Here were bringing in some traction to the lower back.  If you go to the gym, hang off the back extension machine for about 20 sec a repetition.  Hanging this way you need to be careful for eye pressure.  

14.  3 days later your going to foam roll for 10 minutes focusing on quads, hips, calves and feet.  Then follow that with a 15 min walk.  We are looking for an asymmetrical soreness.  For example, your left knee or left quad was the only thing that hurt more then the right.  It’s OK to be sore, we are looking for one thing that is more sore then the others.  

15.  Treat yourself to a massage.  I’d suggest at least 4 days post race.  

16.  During day 3-6 you can add 10 min a day to activity.  So day 6 you can be at an hour of pretty light to medium activity.  Again, nothing that is strenuous and nothing on your feet.  

17.  Keep checking in with your body through foam rolling the key areas and walking.  Paying a little more attention to the areas that remain sore that is asymmetrical.  

18.  No running for 7 days post race.  First runs between week 1-2 post race are kept under 5-6 miles.  This is only cleared when there is no asymmetrical soreness, for example, I feel real good except for my left foot, that still hurts.  Figure it out before you jump the gun.  

19.  Get help from a professional is your asymmetrical soreness doesn’t go away in 7-10 days.

20.  20 deep breaths before you go to bed every night starting day one.  Inhale through the nose.  Gentle long exhale.  Repeat and make this a habit.  

Congrats, you made it 10 days since your big race.  You should feel like your old self again.  Time to choose your next goal and start pursuing it.  


This is designed for the person that is doing a one time race.  You trained specifically for this race and not using this race as just a long run for a later race such as Bayshore marathon.  There is a huge difference in racing and running.  This is also guidelines for someone that is new to this distance.  This is the first time hitting these long runs.  With that said, hope it helps you recover and not become that person on my table that regretted their race.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Nutrition From a Programming Perspective

Sticking to the theme of things I've changed my mind about, nutrition is one of them.  I was a big believer in the following statement, if it can't be sustained, it is not a real solution.  It is not healthy.
A respected coach posted something about how humans are supposed to be an undulating organism.  To say this one way is how you eat for the rest of your life is silly.  It  made me rethink and admit my thinking was a little short sighted.

Lets take biking as an example.  People that bike enjoy biking. They may bike everyday.  Then they decide to enter a 200 mile gravel race like the Dirty Kanza.  They are going to have to do some serious specialized training.  When the race is done, they won't sustain the volume and intensity of biking they needed to prepare for the race.  It is also doubtful that they will say, well I did the race, I'm done biking.  They are still going to ride.  A few months pass and they decide to do a mountain bike time trial.  A 60 min all out redline zone 5 race.  It's going to require much different preparation then the 200 mile race.  They train for that race and when its done they aren't going to keep the same training even though they will still ride their bike.

This is an analogy for nutrition. While there are some basics, it's going to come down to personal goals as well.  If you are trying to lose weight, attacking that goal for 3 months and then taking some time off (a set time) and not being as strict.  You are still going to eat well,  (your still riding your bike) but not as intensely.  Then go at it again with renewed discipline but also with a metabolism that isn't ground to a halt. 

Taking it a little deeper into the periodized analogy.  Humans that are healthiest have the greatest variability in their physiology.  The HRV is a score of your heart rate variability.  It is the healthiest when it's the most variable.  Most peoples joints are healthiest when they have the greatest motion that they can control.  Varying your caloric needs, varying your macro nutrition all can be healthy and help break through psychological barriers that may come from feeling you are depriving yourself of something.  

My thinking is that do the basics well consistently.  Protein, veggies, water.   Ride that bike.  Then attack something aggressively.  Most people lose weight if they cut all sugar/breads/dairy.  I think most people can do this with a lot of discipline for like 4-6 weeks.  Train hard for that crazy bike race.  Then I'd back off to not limiting stuff and going back to making sure you got the basics covered.  Go back to riding that bike.  During that 4-6 weeks phase I'd have days of low calories and day of higher calories. 

Variability in the human has been shown to be healthy, I'm starting to think nutrition is no different.  When you want a change, attack it aggressively and then return to moderation.  Keep doing this.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Plan for Addressing High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure is called the silent killer because one can have a high blood pressure and lead a pretty normal life, it doesn't have great warning signs.  For this reason, everyone should have their blood pressure checked regularly.  Most grocery stores now offer a little station you can sit, relax and get it read.  Try to do it at the same time of day every time.  Don't do it after strenuous workout out or with caffeine in your system.

Blood pressure is the measure of systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.  Systolic is how much pressure it takes to pump the blood when the heart muscle contracts.  Diastolic is how much pressure is present when the heart is relaxed.  Generally speaking 120/80 is considered normal.  130/90 is prehypertensive and 140/100 or higher is Hypertensive.

Hypertension can lead to a lot of different issue so it's very important to get this addressed.  One is essentially asked the heart to work harder all the time.  This can lead to a heart attack.  You are pushing it harder through vessels, the vessels essentially are not as pliable.  This can lead to strokes or aneurisms.  Other organs are also at risk.  One that is commonly damaged with uncontrolled HBP is the kidneys.  The kidneys filter the blood through lots of small arteries that lead to the nephron.  These arteries can became narrow, harden and weaken.  This becomes a negative feedback loop and this will cause an increase in BP as well.

1. Start getting a few relaxing walks in per day.  Then shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes.  Heart rate should be elevated but you should be able to hold a conversation without losing breath.

1a.  Once walking has been established, start going slightly more brisk walk for a goal of 30 minutes. Stairs make an excellent choice for training the bigger leg muscles.  Biking is excellent low impact choice.  Weights can be beneficial, just don't hold the breath.  The ultimate goal is 150 min of exercise a week.  It takes 1-3 months to drop systolic pressure up to 10 points.  It only lasts for as long as exercise stays apart of your daily life.

2. Work your grip strength.  This has been shown to be a really cool exercise with proven results.  It was discovered by fighter pilots in the 60's.  Those that gripped the control the strongest pumped more blood to the brain and passed out less during high G forces.   Find a gripper that you can grip that you would consider medium in difficulty.  You want to be able to hold the grip in the closed position for 5 seconds. Relax for 10 seconds.  Get as many reps as you can for 2 minutes.  Repeat the other hand.  It has been shown to drop the diastolic by up to 15 points.  (quite large)  It seems to work because it makes the walls of the carotid artery and other blood vessels more pliable.

3.  Electrolyte balance.  I would recommend getting blood work done to see your potassium and sodium balance.  The standard advice of lowering sodium is not a given.  It is known now that it is the balance of sodium/potasium that is crucial to heart health.  Most sodium isn't from table salt added to food but is snuck in prepackaged foods.  Most potassium comes from fresh fruits and vegetables, so the advice of cut out food that comes in a box or package and eat more fruits and vegetable is good advice.

4.  Drink lots of water, hydrate like it's medicine.  Dehydration can raise high blood pressure.  Your body will hold onto sodium more.  If you find you are never thirsty for your bodyweight, perhaps upping your protein will be of value.  Shooting for a minimum of 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces.

5.  Maximize Nitric Oxide.   NO is a key signaling molecule throughout the body.  It is produced by the endothelial cells in the arteries and acts to relax the arterial walls.  It is produced when we exercise.  (Step 1)  It is only available for a few seconds after it is produced, so we are constantly making it.  Exercise/Food/Supplement for Nitric oxide production.

6.  Supplement.  Garlic and Other Nitric Oxide supplements.  Garlic has a strong backing as a viable option for reducing HBP up to 10%.  Not eating it raw but supplementing it.  You need the allicin in the garlic.  It seems to work by stimulating the production of NO.  Some companies are making specific NO supplements.  I'm currently testing out the APEX Nitric Oxide and will report on it in a few months.

7.  Add specific foods to your diet.  The amino acids L- arginine and L-citruline are crucial in the formation of Nitric Oxide.   Turkey and pumpkin seeds are two of the highest suggest sources of arginine.  Walnuts are an excellent source for arginine and has been studied on its own to lower blood pressure.  Watermelon, cucumber and other melons are great sources of citruline.   Beets are being studied a ton lately for its high level of nitrate.  Seems to be enough research to suggest adding them to the diet will be of benefit.   Beet, Watermelon, cucumber, walnut, honey (a little research for HBP) sounds like a nice NO shake to me!

7.  Be around animals.  Going to zoos or being around dogs, petting dogs.  It seems odd, but they have measured BP in zoos and it's lower.  Then have measured it petting dogs and it's lower.  We are meant to be around animals in my opinion.

8.  Volunteer.  People that volunteer tend to have a LBP then those that don't.  Feel good perhaps?  I'd bet volunteering at an animal shelter would be quite beneficial for BP.

9.  Become a Nasal Breather.  By breathing through the nose you are able to capture more Nitric Oxide with each breath from the sinus cavities.   Breathing through the mouth doesn't do this.  It takes dedicated practice and it can be used as almost a meditative practice.  Which coincidentally, also has been shown to lower blood pressure.  Taking a few minutes a few times a day and practice nasal breathing.  I think walking is a great place to do this.  It keeps the walk at an aerobic level and you get to practice only inhaling through the nose.

10. Drink less alcohol and don't smoke.  The uptake of one glass for women and 2 for men seem to raise the blood pressure slightly.  Smoking is just bad for everything related to health.  

All of these options will have individual results.  Not one by itself will probably bring you down into the normal range, but all of them combined and working them into your lifestyle will go a big way  into helping control them and perhaps need less medication or perhaps get off or not get on any.  Always have a way to monitor your blood pressure if you are on a medication and start to implement these lifestyle changes as it will hopefully require different dosages.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Random Spring Review Thoughts

A lot of thinking has been going on in this head of mind the last few months.  The old saying is if want to know what you think, write it out.

I'm excited to continue to learn more and more about reading and interpreting blood work.  From a personal curiosity for my own health questions to taking the Apex Mastering Functional Blood Chemistry and a bunch of books in between.  It's been an exciting chance to delve back into pure learning mode.  I've already started to work with a few patients on the lifestyle, food and supplementation strategies to start changing their health.

One of the most fun and aha moments I have is when two somewhat separate events/ideas cross over and you are able to see the connection.  I've been on a year long mission to understand the aspects of breathing and performance.  It started a few years ago in taking the PRI courses and realizing the importance of the diaphragm.  It escalated with Wim Hoff and continues with some more of the acute training affects with books like "The Oxygen Advantage," by Patrick McKeown.  Delving into the Buteyko breathing and hearing the CO2 and breath hold techniques from Kasper van der Meulen for increasing athletic ability.

From this information you learn how Co2 can have an effect on something called the Anion Gap.  Anion Gap is the difference in the measurement of cations Sodium/potassium (+) and the anions Chloride and bicarbonate (-) in your body.   Learning about the importance of the anion gap from the blood work perspective and having functional medicine say that brain injuries have a much harder time healing when the gap is 22 or larger.  For the healthy, you would want to be under 15.  With simple strategies to decrease this from breath holding and from nutrition/supplementation.

Young practitioners or students, start your day and finish your day with patients that you truly love working with.  It can change the whole outlook of your day or the next day, when you start and finish with someone that is truly fun to work with.  If you have ever been the first or last patient of mine...congrats...haha.

I was asked what are the biggest changes in my thought patterns for strength and conditioning I've had in the last few years.
1.  Aerobic training is highly beneficial when you are not an aerobic athlete and it has immediate effects on your health and isn't a downfall for pure strength.  Smart programming can keep your "gains."  Alex Viada from the Hybrid Athlete was the first to start to change my thinking.  I do recommend his eBook.  Biggest takeaway for me, I recover faster from training and from things like the common cold.
2.  Maximal strength isn't worth chasing at the expense of other strength choices.  I just don't see the payoff anymore in sports unless you are a powerlifter/oly lifter.  For track/field, field sports, health/performance I'm not seeing the carryover after a certain amount of strength.  Which leads to #3.
3.  Learning to integrate movements is more important.  Coordination. Isometrics.
4.  Hypertrophy as you age is important.  Don't knock machines or single joint activities.  Bodybuilding has a place.  My former self would have said they are useless.
5.  Abdominal work should have a direct place.  Deadlifts and squats are not enough.

I've been playing around with a few things in terms of nutrition and products the last 4-5 months.  I gave the nose pieces from Turbine a very fair go.  My wife said the sleep ones didn't help my snoring.  Fail on that.  The yellow performance ones,  I didn't notice an improvement in performance with a stated 38% increase in air flow.  Anyone that has been on a bike understands the term snot rocket.  With these in, it's impossible to do.  So you lose the 10 dollars nose piece.  Not worth it for me.

This has been my preride/ride/post ride combo.



I really enjoy the Organo Gold mushroom coffee before I ride.  It gets a bad rap for being MLM, but I  like it before riding and definitely with traveling.   UCAN is just legit.  Developed for people that have diabetes,  this is an outstanding product that has trickled down into the endurance world.  It's built for sustained energy and stable blood glucose levels.  I haven't bonked, just sustained energy.  No stomach issues.  The craziest thing post ride is normally I'd finish a big ride and have the appetite to crush a whole pizza, now I finish and I'm not famished.  Caloric intake after a big exertion is just normal.  

The hard thing about business is knowing when to spend money and when to just wait and figuring out which leads to growth and what and when to invest in the business.  They don't teach that in school.  Sometimes decisions are just as weird as I need two more parking spots.  Not something your thinking about studying for board exams.  

Health>Time>Money:  This has been an ongoing debate for sometime on Facebook with a friend of mine.  Which 3 do you value most.  The thinking is that if you had money you could have all the time in the world, but this just states you value time the most.  If you value time more then health, well you could be to sick to actually enjoy it.  If your sick you could be forced out of work, money.  Time is meaningless.  If your healthy, you have the ability to still enjoy everything.  So take the time and money and invest in your health.  By default you create time and money.  

Had my first DNA tests done.  Was pleasantly surprised how accurate it really seemed to be.  I was pretty much 70% fast twitch 30% slow twitch and advised me into sports like American football and weight lifting.  I'm glad I figured that out when I was like 10. haha.

Some more of the interesting was the lack of folic acid and poor absorption of B vitamins.  The B vitamins I had figured out in the last few months from blood work.  An interesting aside was that I lack a certain variant that helps you process alcohol.  (Bummer as I like craft beer and live in Beer City USA.)

I started to read stuff that has nothing to do with health, training or business again.  It always surprises me why I get out of that habit as I enjoy it so much.  It makes you wonder what else you forget to do for enjoyment simply because it doesn't fit into your work or practical column.  




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review and Thoughts: Secret Life of Fat

The Secret Life of Fat is a book by Sylvia Tara.  Reading this book gave me a new understanding of this organ, yes organ, just like your liver.  It is much more then the blubber we think of when we pinch that inch.  It also gave me more empathy of the plight of someone that is "constantly" trying to lose weight.  Essentially, the body is rigged to prevent you from winning, and when you do think you won and let your guard down, it strikes again.  Fat is smart.  It can think.  Think about that for a bit.  I took copious amount of notes but I'll go through and highlight some important ones with recommendations on lifestyle to try to keep fat working for you instead of becoming a health risk. 

There are three types of fat.  White fat, brown fat, and beige fat.  White fat is what we usually think of, the stuff we are always trying to get rid of.  Brown fat is fairly new discovery in the last 10 or so years.  Brown fat actually raises metabolism and burns white fat.  Beige fat can become white or brown.  This will be influence by our environment and stressors.  Think exercise.

Here is an example of the FAT LOOP that we see all to often.  
1.  We eat to much
2.  Fat cells grow until they are overcrowded
3.  Send out signals to immune cells to send macrophages to engulf the fat cells. 
4.  Inflammation/chronic
5.  Fat no longer responds well to insulin
6.  Pancreas has to produce more insulin
7.  The loop of constantly needing more insulin as cells become more insulin resistant.
8.  Cells are not getting the sugar and fats from our blood and are starved for nutrients.
9.  This makes us hungrier.
10.  We eat more.  The loop starts again.

fruits-that-burn-fat.jpg

There are different types of white fat.  Subcutaneous (close to the surface)  Think of jiggly fat.  Visceral fat.  Deep and close to the organs.  Ever pat a beer belly and it's hard, that is visceral fat and that is dangerous.  It emits more hormones and cytokines (inflammations) and is correlated with diabetes, heart disease and even dementia.

The hormones to know. Adiponectin, this sensitizes the bodies response to insulin.  Guides sugar/fat out of our bloodstream and into subcutaneous fat.  It removes toxic lipids called ceramides.  We can increase adiponectin with vigorous exercise.  Leptin is a hormone that makes us feel full, it inhibits hunger.  Ghrelin is it's opposite, Ghrelin will make you feel hungry.  Lack of sleep produces a bad combo of low Leptin and high Ghrelin.  

How Your Set Up To Lose
You have lost fat, it's now harder to keep it off then someone that has never gained weight.  Losing weight makes you more responsive to food and less able to control intake.  It appears this doesn't go away.  The hormone levels appear to alter bodies that have lost weight to be hungrier then before they had lost weight.  Not only that, but the metabolism was lowered at the reduced fat.  You can see why it's called "yo-yo dieting."  What you ate to lose weight, will eventually become enough to make you gain that weight back.

The danger of this cycle is that often the subcutaneous fat that is lost comes back as visceral fat.  In liposuction, most ended up regaining the same percentage of fat, but in different areas with more visceral fat and with less healthy fat.  The one way this was stopped is when after liposuction the individual took up exercise.

Onto some of the craziness.  Virus can potentially be causing obesity.  The virus AD-36 has been shown to crossover from chicken to chicken.  Studies have confirmed this.  From an ethics stand point you can't really reproduce this in people.  One lead researcher in this believes 30% of all obese individuals have this virus in them.  (He states there is no cure at the moment, but what you eat and how you exercise is still up to you, you just may have to work harder)

Your gut biome is insanely important with fat gain.  Lean individuals have a more diverse gut bacteria.  In fact, as you lose fat you lose bacteria called Firmicutes and gain Bacteroidetes.   The gut bacteria influence the fat storage in a few ways.  The microbes have enzymes we don't carry and can thus digest parts of the plants that our own digestive system can't.  Ultimately, the bacteria change digestion in two ways, improving the ability of the gut to absorb food and increasing the amount of sugar extracted.  

When fat mice were given the gut flora of lean mice, they got lean.  When lean mice were given the fat mice gut flora they got fat. 

Genes influence our resting metabolism, fat percentage, abdominal visceral fat, triglycerides and cholesterol.  So it's not just lazy or lack of effort for weight gain.  This can take some stress away, but it doesn't mean losing fat can't be done and shouldn't be a goal.  Because, the trump card, is vigorous exercise.  It has shown to erase genetic variables.  If you are an individual that genes are against, it means you may not get a cheat day or cheat meal.  You will have to be more diligent.  We all know that guy that eats McDonalds and has a 6 pack without doing much.  The opposite is also true.  Accept it and move on.  

Women tend to store more fat then men in every culture across the world.  They also tend to have what is called a better compensating pattern after exercise then men.  This means that men in general underestimate what was burned and eat less to return to caloric neutral.  Women tend to do this better so they estimate what to eat more close to what they burned.  They think this is a biological pattern to ensure health.  

Fat cells have receptors for hormones.  As we age, we are producing less hormones that tell us to burn fat, so we tend to gain fat.  At the same time we produce more hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone correlated with abdominal fat.  Can you see another cycle?  


WHAT TO DO
The old saying in rehab is that the most likely injury is the one you already have had.  It's kind of a weak way of saying don't get hurt.  In fat loss, the best way is to not allow yourself to gain that extra 15 pounds, because there are metabolic consequences that come from this.  Now onto real advice.

1.  Shift the mindset from, I'll lose this 20 pounds and resume normal life, to I'm going to change my lifestyle and lose weight in the process.  The yo-yo weight gain will happen if you don't.  I've already told you this can lead to more dangerous fat levels.  In fact, I wouldn't start the process without this commitment.  

2.  Improve sleep.  Get this capstone in place.  You are fighting an uphill battle as it is, why push the stone up the hill in the process.  

3.  Weight loss has to come through nutrition.  Don't add exercise into the equation until you got the nutrition dialed in.  You should be able to lose weight without exercise.  Don't move to exercise until the nutrition is in place.  

4.  Nutrition should be focused on the gut biome.  Changes there will have bigger implications.  Soluble fibre is big.  Get 6-8 fist sized vegetables every day. 

5.  Vigorous exercise is now added.  30min 5x a week is a minimum.  In the book, this was defined by 4-6mph of running.  Biking at 12-14 miles per hour.  Lifting weights.  If you ran 20 miles a week at age 30, it will most likely take about 30 miles a week at age 40 to maintain that same metabolism.  

Genetics plays a huge role.  In the end, you are still in control of the process.  The process may be harder or easier, but it's still our each individual choice
.



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Create The Environment For Success

"Environment is the invisible hand that shapes behavior. Creative manipulation is an underrated tool in affecting rate of skill acquisition."
Coach Stu McMillan

One of the things I've kept in the back of my head was the comment that you may think you have always known something when you hear it, because it seems like common sense, but yet it's actually a new concept for yourself when you stop to think about it. 

This was a light bulb moment when I saw the above quote by my friend, Stu McMillan, head sprint/power coach at Altis. Part of me has felt like I've always known it and have stumbled upon some success with using this method, but I believe it was with out fully realizing it.

Essentially, manipulate your environment to create an outcome that you desire. I'm looking at it more from a lifestyle design and therapy lens then sprinting or athletic technique, but principles stay the same.


I was trying to incorporate more aerobic work this winter. I came into the spring far behind my goals last year. This winter I got a trainer to ride at night after I put my kids to bed. I used it. When I left it up with bike attached I used it more. It became even easier to just head to the basement and jump on. Very little set up now. I was shaping a new behavior. A time, a place and a reminder to shape the acquisition that I wanted, aerobic fitness.

Often times, runners and bikers become quad dominate and lose hip strength. This can lead to the development of knee or hip pain. One of the goals is to introduce the athlete to new exercises that they incorporate several times a day. My favorite type of exercise is one where failure is helpful, the brain is challenged, the outcome (hip strength) will happen if effort is applied and doing the movement keeps the strong (overpowering) muscles out of the equation without the athlete having to "think about it." Just try. The outcome will happen. The exercise is the environment for the new behavior. I often have them do some rolling exercise that proceeds the training. I do believe this has some value in tension modulation and some core muscle stimulation, but I also want that physical reminder. I see the roller or ball. I remember to do it.

For people that stand at a desk or work at a counter. Having a 6" stool/block to rest a foot on will change how much fatigue will be in their low back. A simple environmental instrument to change how you move.

There have been books written about the subject that cover in more depth this topic, but I always read/perceived that it was just taking away temptation. I realize now, removing the temptation is environmental manipulation. Removing food you don't want to eat from your home, eliminates the late night temptation. Placing a remote control in a closet or room usually means less TV watching.

Look around and pay attention. It can be a negative influence. Try to see how the environment is being programmed to manipulate or influence your actions, behaviors and thoughts. There are specialists that are hired by stores and retail to show certain colors, certain music, what's eye level, were the lights are, all to manipulate your actions/thoughts without you realizing it. Did you know the color red tends to get you to buy more, whether in person or online.

Take a survey of what you want to accomplish. Brainstorm some simple ideas and then create simple changes to the environment that you live to accomplish the behaviors that you want. Use the invisible hand of environmental manipulation to your benefit.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Homemade Gada Mace

Last month I was doing some more reading on circular strength training.  Often we train in just one plane of motion.  For example, a deadlift is primarily a sagittal plane movement.  Circular strength involves moving an object in a rotational pattern.

A deadlift done well centrate joints and allow you to have synced up the musculoskeletal system.  My theory from what I've been reading is that rotational should do that for joints, such as the shoulder that have plenty of movement.  This is why doing something like a rotational squat can be very therapeutic.

I had purchased a 20lb mace from Onnit last year.  For me, it was to heavy and short for my strength. After reading more on the history of the Gada, developed it appears first in India, 48" seems to be the best option.  You can buy a Gada for about 55 dollars.  I actually thought it would be fun to try to make my own and let my oldest daughter help.  Total cost was a little under 15 dollars.  It probably took under 20 min to put together and I let the concrete harden for 3 days.  It turned out pretty well.  Very smooth feeling at around 10lbs.  






Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Weekend in Toronto: Back to the Basics

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of driving to Toronto to take part and learn at the first Functional Range Assessment course.   FR is a system of techniques and training, the assessment course is designed to tie them together and allow the practitioner clear cut guidelines in what direction to take an athlete or patient.

The best thing about the FR is the science driven teaching, and the teaching is top notch.  They are the most well taught seminar series I've ever taken (and I take a lot of seminars) and it shows in the caliber of attendees.  That for me has become just as important as the seminar taught, the quality of the attendees.  I've found I soak in just as much great info from the people attending as from the presenters when the material being presented is top notch.

I found the weekend to be an unexpected blending of one message that was penetrating my thick skull.  Get better at the basics.  A simple thing like measuring/checking joint angles, "Can your joint move like a human joint should?"


It is often stated that when something is basic and true, you think you have known it for ever when you hear it.  When you stop and think about it though, you realized, no you didn't.  It seems obvious at the moment, but sadly it was not.

"If your mobility training doesn't cost you anything, it won't give you anything either.  Mobility training shouldn't be easy."  Michael Ranfone

I am always amazed when I hear Dre or Mike teach at any of the FR seminars that this stuff wasn't what I dropped big $$$ to learn in chiropractic school.  For example, vision, hearing and articular capsules are the 3 senses that can bypass the CNS and go directly to the brain (Motor Cortex).   That is just one example of the nuggets of knowledge that you can gleam.   We have doctors that check our eyes and our ears, why not our articular capsules.  This is also why doing your CARS (controlled articular rotations) are such a big deal every day.  #everydamnday

The undercurrent when FR wasn't going on was also, for me, about the basics. A book by Ben House called Still Standing, was recommended to me by a friend.  Synchronicity is a very cool thing, as I had just started reading Dr. House's work online.  I read it that night (quick read that I recommend) that had to deal with lifestyle and blood work.  Blood work and what you can learn from it, has been a new interest of mine.  It further stoked my fascination with blood work and lifestyle changes that can influence it.

How many times did your parents tell you to chew your food.  The book recommends 30x just to start to get a reset on your digestion.  Something so simple, but yet can impact your health.  I'm always done first, when it comes to eating.   When I literally started counting my chews, I realized I wanted to swallow my food on number 3.

It also brought to light mindless eating, whether looking at my phone or my computer, I always reverted to old habits.  Chewing 30x brought you to the present.  Mindfulness.

Eat 10 fist sized servings of vegetables every day.  Again, how many times did you hear, eat your vegetables from your parents.  How many of us do this?  Basics.  Health.

During some of the break out hands on sessions, I was able to pick @danajohnflows brain about all the different 90/90 hip positions to increase tension and build internal hip rotation.  It was the subtle changes of positions that allowed the stretch or tension to go from non existent to high.  Something you wouldn't see in a video.  It was a basic stretch until a slight variation made it not.  That was the weekend in a nutshell for me.  Taking the basics, getting better at them,  owning them, mastering them.

The weekend was a great learning environment, FR always is.  You can't help but get better.  Amazing lectures, hands on that you can immediately use with your athletes and patients, and awesome attendees that increase the learning environment.