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.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Years Resolution That Everyone Can Use: More Sleep

It is exactly the time of year where people make resolutions to enhance the New Year.  Most resolutions are designed to be health enhancing.  Lose weight, get fit (whatever that means) save money, these all seem to be high on peoples list.  One thing you don't here often when asked for new years resolution is get more sleep.  

Sleep may be the most important keystone in your quest to build a healthy lifestyle.  The more we learn about the science of sleep the more we realize its importance.  Last years research showed that sleep is like taking out the garbage and clearing the waste from our brain.  Not sleeping and clearing out these wastes has been linked to neurological disease such as Alzheimer's.  Sleep has been shown to physically have links to obesity and diabetes.  

It is estimated that people are sleeping 1-2 hours less per night then the same population group in 1950.  That is quite a lot of sleep.  Perhaps it just isn't nutrition that is making us fat as a country, perhaps it is lack of sleep.  

Sleep:  The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Brain by Nick Littlehales,  was one of the last books I read in 2016.  It's a quick easy read with some solid practical points.   Nick was one of the original sleep performance coaches who started helping Manchester United Football in the early 90's.  Since then he has gone on to help teams like Team SKY that won the Tour De France recently.  The following are some of the key take home points that I thought were worth sharing.  He calls this his R90 program.  

Think of sleep as 90min cycles.  You want to accrue 90 min cycles.  Learn what works for you.  Most people will need a minimum of 4 cycles or 6 hours.  I personally do best with 5 cycles or 7.5 hours.  Now multiply this number by 7 (days in the week)  So my perfect would be 35 cycles.  So a great week according to R90 would be 30-35 cycles.  Forget the I had a bad nights sleep mindset, think of it as a long term health mindset.  I met my cyclic needs this week.  

Now there are several categories of people that will struggle with this.  Parents of young ones come to mind, first and foremost.  In his book he outlines naps called controlled recovery periods.  Done right a 20 min CRP can equal a cycle.  

The Pre and Post bed routines are critical.  Light plays an enormous roll in this time period.  These are also 90 min.  Try to get sunlight on your eyes as soon as you can.  If you live in places that won't see the sun for like 3 months like me (lol) he suggests a blue light alarm that mimics a sunrise.  Avoiding stressful email/computers/blue light before bed.  He suggests mindless task of work that needs to get done anyway.  Picking up your house.  Folding clothes.  Get things ready for the next day.  It was interesting to note that for me I realized I had instinctively found 90 min to be the minimum time I wanted to have from wake up till I left the house for work or appointment.  

Using some Psychology with this one, he thinks people sleep best with the non dominate arm down and in the fetal position facing out.  So if your right handed you sleep on the left shoulder looking away from your partner or bed.  

His ideal sleep environment was actually married couples sleep in separate beds.  Probably not practical, but I remember my grandparents who were born in the 10's had this type of set up when I was very young.  Perhaps another clue on why we sleep less today.  The next best option is the biggest bed you can possibly make work for the bedroom.  Spend money on the mattress not on the frame.  You should be able to lay on your back without crossing your legs to determine if it's the right softness.  You shouldn't need the use of a pillow but it's fine if you like one.  

The room is completely black.  No TV.  No smart phone, it is kept in another room.  Temperature around 68F. 

Do everything in your power to figure sleep out without the use of sleeping pills.  A 2012 study linked the use of sleeping pills to an increase mortality and cancer.   Those verse a placebo gained only 22 minutes.  Not worth it.  

The science of sleep and how it affects our physiology is truly an amazing and important reality.  It is indeed the cornerstone of health.  Don't kid yourself on not needing it.  Losing weight, gaining muscle, feeling better, thinking clearer, staying healthy both body and brain all rely on sleep, so if any of those were in your new years resolutions, pick sleep and perhaps you can achieve them all.