Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Secret to Solving Cramping...For Me

Cramping in the sporting world is a tricky subject.  There are several theories that never panned out.  Classic dehydration and the drink more water camp.  Electrolytes, drink my gatorade camp.  Muscles are tight, stretch more camp.  The inability to have proper neuromuscular coordination, ie...the fatigue camp.  There have been some interesting tests and studies done with ascetic acid.  For example, having a cramp in a laboratory setting and then placing ascetic acid under the tongue and the cramp goes away.  The subject does not even ingest the ascetic acid.

(Weirdly, as a life long cramper, I have always likedascetic acid foods.  Pickles, vinegar, mustard, kombucha)  Is this what they talk about when your body instinctually seeks what it it lacking?)

I've tried lots of products over the years, from salt tablets, hot shot and nothing ever really seemed to be the silver bullet.  Some would potentially stop the I can't move and I'm stuck on the side of hill for 15 minutes cramps, but when activity was reengaged, the camps would come back just as hard and just as debilitating.  

If you are someone that cramps, you know how even training for a race can feel self defeating.  If you are "in shape" but you know a cramp will probably be the limiting factor.  

Three years ago I started biking more.  I've been drawn to the endurance world, as much for the enjoyment of the bike as well as the ability to see training and physiology at work.  Not to mention, getting to explore far away nooks and crannies of your world.  

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I'm a big believer in the research of Dr. Stephen Seiler.  His polarized training approach consisting of 80-85% of your training is easy rides, with only 10 percent being hard interval style approach.  Stay away from the middle zone where no adaptations are occurring.  

Looking back on the training with anything in my past was always middle or high.  Nothing low and easy.  So I started just riding my bike easy and longer, a lot longer.  90 minute rides used to be tiring and feeling like I'm packing for an adventure to the wilderness.  Now 3 hour rides feel chill, let me grab a water bottle or two.  

It took a few years of this to notice changes.  But, eventually I did.  A few weeks ago I rode 60ish miles of mountain bike trails over 6 hours with almost 6k of elevation gain.  Something that even two years ago would have put my quads and calfs into a cramping vice.  (my normal biking for feeling cramps was 2 hours, 1 hour 30 min if I was racing) 

A few months ago, I discovered the work of Evan Peikon.  A scientist that specialize with oxygen usage in sport and athletics.  I will dumb down the key take aways that started to make sense of cramping ...for me.  I am what is considered an occluder.  My muscles and physiology occlude very well.  This means I respond to weight lifting very well.  I get less oxygen to my tissue, the pump comes faster and harder and the metabolic stress is high. My muscles grow.  I responded to weight lifting much quicker then my friends in high school.  I gravitated towards fast, power sports.  Sprints, football, rugby, bobsled.  The first time I pushed a bobsled, it felt natural.  The 4 seconds of work, followed by full recovery, was literally what my body was built to do.  I'm not sure how accurate the genetic profiling is, but the one I did years ago showed 72% fast twitch and 28% slow twitch.  No idea if this is viable information.  But,  it just confirmed what I knew at 10 years old.  My body didn't like sustained work.  

There are non occluders, people that muscles seem to just process the work load easier.  They have more oxygen to use, they don't pump up as much.  They get rid of the metabolic waste faster and more efficient.  They can lift for years, and you might not be able to tell, but put them on an aerobic machine and they can keep a sustained work load.  

Things started to click.  I can remember training a national champion mountain biker and doing some dumbell press.  20lb did 15 reps easy.  We bump to 25 and literally she gets burried.  Go back to the 20's and she proceeds to rep out 25 reps.  

Occluders vs Non Occluders.  This research was done with Moxy units and NIRS.  They show how at 60% workload produce drastic different results in different athletes, you can even have different bodyparts so you could have occlusion in your thighs, but not you calves.  If you stop to think about it, this is adaptation.  This is why you train.  

The long easy hours, the majority of the training according to Stephen Seiler is to produce a larger base.  Elite athletes don't do harder workouts as they get better, they do more easy volume.  This is all documented from running, cycling, xc skiing, and rowing.  

What is happening with this work?  Adaptations.  A larger heart, capable of pumping more blood per stroke.  Increased capillary density.  You grow more capillaries.  More blood vessels.  You are creating the ability to get more blood and oxygen to your tissue.  Your becoming a better non occluder.  

I once had a strength coach say, cramping was the lack of training for the event and situation you find yourself in.  That was it.  Pretty simple.  I believe it is true.  

I once heard a pro cyclist answer how do I get better at cycling, or what kind of training did he do to get to the level he was at.  He responded with perhaps one of the most brutal, but honest pro tips ever.  20 hours a week on the bike for ten years.  

I've spent about 450 hours of easy riding, longer rides etc. in the last 3 years to get to the point where I can confidently race a 2 hour ride and not cramp or go ride 5-6 hours of relaxed effort and still feel good.  (That is not even that much in the cycling world)  It was a long slow build up to this workload for me.  It was forced design to not do medium work.  The wasted zone.  But, I believe this is what it took to build up the adaptations needed to ride hard and not feel the dreaded muscular spasm.  

So, if you are a cramper, I don't have a shortcut for you or a magic supplement to take, I do offer an N=1 roadmap.  Take a few years and see if it works for you.  I believe it will.  The body is a remarkable adaptable organism.  We just have to give it the right signals, hour after hour, week after week.  

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Why Is Sport Important?

"Nature had spontaneously thrown up rare freaks-precisely the mechanism that Darwin had proposed as an evolution's first step.  Darwin had called the variant "sports," implying a streak of capricious whimsy in the natural world.  De Vries chose a more serious-sounding word.  He called them mutants-from the Latin word for "change."

From THE GENE

It is a strange time we find ourselves currently in.  The coronavirus pandemic.  Lives have been lost, lives will be lost, jobs have been lost, jobs will be lost.  Politicians and media, continue to ramp up their confusion and fear,  looking for ways to gain advantage over each other, looks for ways to gain advantage over us.

It seems almost frivolous to talk about sport.  Almost seems, ugly.

But, for a second, forget the idea of what comes to mind when you think of it.  Forget the million dollar contracts, forget the athlete complaining about their money, forget the price of the tickets, forget the price of a beer, forget the travel, forget the cost, forget the business of sport.

Remember the sport.  Remember the feeling of lacing up your shoes.  Remember the huddle.  Remember the voices.  Remember the exhaustion.  Remember the pain of losing.  Remember the joy of winning.  Remember the aha moment, when you figured it out.  The first time you hit a ball, the first time you cleared the hurdle, beat a time, beat the rival, made the climb.  Remember the first time you decided to stay until you could do it, and did it.

Kids turn everything into a game.  How fast did I do it in?  Make it harder.  Race me.  Everything from learning is through play.  Play is sport.  It drives development.  We have within us some form of need to feel and see improvement.  We love to see,  five seconds faster up the hill, five more reps, five more pounds on the bar.  Kids will be excited when they climb higher in the tree, a first cartwheel, biked up the hill finally, or figured out how to jump rope.

We are born with a need for tribes.  Define your tribe.  Family, church, gym, profession, school, team....
We dress the part, so people know.  So we feel a part of, instead of apart from.  That is sport.

Sport at it's heart has always shown us the possibilities of us.  If you ever watched MJ or Steph and then went and shot baskets, knowing you could never be "that" but you could get better.  That is sport.

If you ever watched Ritz, Mebb or Alyson race and run and then went and laced up your shoes, knowing you will never be that fast, but you can get better.  That is sport.

If you know your Fran time, because you know what the best in the world do.   That is sport.

My dad was watching an old football game from the late 70's, reshown on Classic ESPN.  Two major rivals that at the time, the two best college football teams in American.  He was watching them, because during this time, there was nothing else on.  He told me he turned it off.  They were so small and slow, the play was so unimaginative.  He said it's not even the same sport.  He spoke the truth.

Kids were watching the football in the 70's were awestruck by the skill and athleticism they saw.  Those kids became the football starts of the 80's and they inspired the kids of the 90's.  Those kids inspired the kids of the 00's and so on and so on.  The game changed, because the kids changed.  The kids changed, because they knew they could.

People find comfort in sports.  It brings them together.  For no other reason, perhaps it gives you an excuse to stop by and say hi while you watch a bit of a game.  It gives a reason to meet up with friends and family.  To show up and cheer on a family member or friend.

To forget the connection from sport to us, is to suspend the jump from present to future.  Who is going to show us the "oh man how did he do that."  Where will get the crazy comebacks.  When will we have the "she's insane" moments.  How will we get the friend updates about finishing a race or event that seems crazy.

Those things matter, because they seep into our thoughts streams.  They let us know, a one handed catch is possible, they let us know a human can run 2:05 marathon, a human can bike 350 miles, a human can race 100 miles, you can be on the verge of defeat and claw your way back.  Those things do shape us.

Sports at it's spirit drives change.  Change is needed for growth.  Without growth, there is decay.  A slow decay, is decay none the less.  So, remember sport, why you first felt what you did way back then.  Lace up your shoes, clip onto your bike,  grab the clubs, grab the racket, grab the glove.  Climb the tree, then climb it faster.  Learn a new move, practice until it hurts.  Practice until it doesn't.

Change.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Virus Season: Have a Plan

Last October, I got sick with the apparent flu for the first time I could remember.  Knocked me out cold for 3 plus days.  Losing 14lbs and wondering about the history of the flu. What preventative measures has been learned about Influenza aka the Flu.

I came across a guy named Dr. Alex Vasquez, among others, that has really shaped my views and some of my current "best" practices.  With the current world wide coronavirus or Covid-19 scare, now is good time to write down what I think is a game plan.

First order, control what you can, try not to worry about the rest.


Understand that contracting a virus has Five steps.  These five steps can be influenced.

1.  Acquisition:  Exposure, Penetration.  Penetration is often ignored.  (no drug exists to influence         this process.) This is metabolism and nutrition.

2.  Replication.  It will start to grow exponentially from my understanding. 

3.  Immunity: immune response at the cellular level.  This is your body mounting an attack.  

4.  Systemic Consequences:   Cellular and systemic consequences. (cell support)  What does the virus do to you.  


5.  Resolution.  This is self directed.  Homeostasis.  You are hopefully all better.  

Knowing the 4 steps that leads to the 5th, or resolution, you can do your best to address each one.  

1.  Barrier defense,  sanitation and neutralize particles.  The number one best practical solution is hand washing with soap.  Why soap?  Soap has the ability to break the cell membrane of the virus, it basically then spills out and ceases to be.  This takes time though, hence the 20 seconds.  If soap isn't available, there needs to be an alcohol solution of 60% or greater.  

Cover all sneezes and coughs in your elbow.  A sneeze has the ability to travel.  The smaller version of Covid 19 can cover up to 30 feet.  The larger one, 7.  The flu particles can linger in the air up to 8 minutes.  I have not heard about the coronavirus.  I'd assume similar.  

2.  Inhibition of replication.  This will be a nutritional step.  As I will write later.  Nutrition isn't a drug that targets one thing.  Solid nutrition will have carryover effects on many of the steps.  

3.  Immune response.  Optimize immune response and remain balanced.  It takes energy, nutrients and hydration to mount a strong response and fight an infection.  

4.  Protection and recuperation.  Need to protect Mitochondria.  Mitochondria play a key role in modulating viral replication.  They are also damaged by viral infections.  So it's a negative feedback loop when it isn't addressed. 

These are the supplements that seem to have some really good research.  I highlighted in bold the ones I think are the most important.  

NAC.  N-acetyl Cysteine.  This is the supplemental form of cysteine.  1200-1800 for prevention.  2g-4800 grams if you are fighting something.  There are some really great research on this supplement in preventing and fighting a virus.
Basic minerals for enhancement of the NAC
Glycine 3-9 grams  ( I take this in the form of collagen)
Glutamine  6-27 grams
Selenium  200-800 mpg  (perhaps just eat a few brazil nuts)
Riboflavin  50-400mg
Niacin  50-1500mg
Magnesium  600mg
coq10  50-300
Vitamin D   4000plus
Vitamin A.  use cautiously and for short time, as this can become toxic.
Zinc  25-50 mg day for limited time  ( a limited time because this requires copper )
Melatonin  3-6mg 
Whey  10-30 grams. 
Vitamin C  2-5 grams

Mushrooms also have some really interesting research behind them.  Reis
hi,  Chaga, Turkey Tail.  All can be immune modulators.  Paul Stamets has written the book on bringing this back to the public.  It is something I think can be a huge part of the prevention strategy.

I recently came across a study that showed children that drank more green tea then their classmates were less likely to get influenza.  

One of the big differences between influenza and coronavirus is the incubation period.  It apparently seems the flu is 1-2 days.  Coronavirus is 5-7.  This in itself is a big problem.  Covid 19 doesn't seem to pose a big risk for kids.  The hardest hit seem to be elderly that are fighting something like cardiovascular disease or diabetes.  

So far, this is what I've been doing and what I have found out.  Hope this helps bring some more clarity to your own game plan.  

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Flesh and Bone

Why do we have a body?

“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.”  PLATO
Why is physical health linked to mental health?  

"Why even in the process of thinking and not using our body, it is a matter of common knowledge that grave mistakes may often be traced to bad health. And because the body is in a bad condition loss of memory, depression and discontent often attack the mind so violently as to drive out whatever knowledge it contains."  SOCRATES

Aerobic exercise leads to brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  Think of it as top soil for the brain.  It grows a healthy brain.



Why does nature, a physical thing, restore us?

“Nature itself is the best physician.” – Hippocrates

Our bodies increase in it's efficiency, the more it's used.  There is no saving it.  It gets better with use. This in fact reinforces the idea of use this physical thing.  Do not save your heart beats.  

We are programmed from birth to crave physical touch.  Babies that are denied it, will have emotional problems.  One of the most powerful drugs in the world is Oxytocin.  It is secreted from the first time a baby feeds from the mothers breasts.  It is often called the cuddle hormone because it is released from hugging and emotional touch.  

The body gets stronger when its used against gravity.  The bones and muscles respond to the presence and usage, by getting more resilient.  Can you think of another "Thing" that improves the more it is used?

Our bodies are hardwired to have positive feedback loop of satisfaction and enjoyment from its use.  Ever hear of the Endocannabinoid system?  It has receptors in every part of the body and brain.  One of the signals from physical exercise is anandamide.  It rises and crosses the blood brain barrier along with potential a few other neurochemicals that creates euphoria.  Runners High!  

Why does sunlight have such a magnificent effect on our health?  We were meant to be in nature.  Divorcing our bodies from nature into self made metal structures is against nature.  The farther we get away from nature, the more health issues arise.  Physical beings in a physical world.

Study after study shows how simple things like walking in the woods, which now has a fancy name called "forest bathing" does for us.  How sticking our hands in soil, i.e. gardening, produces positive outcomes in our gut bacteria.  How sunlight on our eyes in the morning sets our circadian rhythm and will positive effects our our metabolism.

Sometimes I wonder if manual therapy works because it's just another human touching another human with good intentions.  Sometimes I wonder if foam rolling and body tempering helps, because deep physical pressure just feels good at an inmate level. 

Maybe our bodies need a certain amount of touch and compression.  My kids want hard hugs,  they want to tumble and roll, they want piggyback rides, they crave touch.  

Everyone has experience the feeling of complete tiredness.  Energy is low.  Move the body, make the muscles contract and relax, breath.  Energy is improving.  Move a little more, breath a little harder.  Wow, my energy is back.  Why would exerting energy in a low energy state give us more energy? 

"Do you not know your bodies are temples...therefore honor God with your bodies."

I don't think it is coincidence that our minds and mental health are showing signs of anxiety and less health the more screen time and social media kids are exposed to.  Again, we are taking away a natural thing of physical involvement in the world, with secluded, sedentary, FOMO idea.

Play.  Play is simple bodily interactions in the physical world in a manner that creates enjoyment.  It definitely creates a learning environment.  Lack of Play leads to not only under development of the body, but the mind.  Cutting recess isn't such a good idea when you realize the body leads to mental growth.  

Everywhere we look, from examination of the outside worlds influence on our physical selves, to our physical self interactions with the world, the human body and mind were meant to engage.  

We were not designed to wear out.  Our physiology improves with stress.  Enjoy the contraction of the muscle, the beat of the heart, the deep breath of air that comes from rest, the gasp of air that comes from exertion and the deep body ache from exertion.  

Friday, November 8, 2019

Biking As An Excuse Breaker

The bike was always freedom and adventure for me.  As a kid I would ride miles to a hobby shop to buy items I was interested in, from models, to army figurines.  It allowed me to visit "far" places without relying on someone else to get me there.

Later, it allowed me to get in an extra conditions tool.  Riding it to football weight lifting practice in the summer.  I would eventually get an old map and try to make a loop in the back roads of Jackson.  I think I even got in a "long" ride of 20ish miles!  An old ROSS steel ten speed, was my partner.  On those rides, I eventually got a bike computer and had a lot of hubris in knowing I was going 16-17 miles an hour.  My first time time I payed attention to Bike Magazine and saw the Tour De France riders averaged in the upper 20mph and low 30 mph, my ego was blown away.  What!  How is this possible!

I learned about bigger rings and drafting in the peloton.  But still, man that was fast.  I was not.

I did my first bike race around 30 miles in Fenton, Michigan.  Tour de Lacs.  I thought I would do OK, because you know I rode my bike a bit and I was in football shape.  I sucked.  I remember watching a slightly over weight lady ride away from me up a hill.  My ego took another hit.  There was a lot of fast people out there, I was not one of them.

My friend took me mountain biking for the first time at 18.  I was blown away by the ability to ride your bike in the woods.  I spent most of my childhood running around the woods, exploring, building forts, climbing trees.  Combining two of my favorite things was magical.

I rode on and off through various sports but never serious, just for fun.  A lap here, a lap there.  Weekend rider with an hour of trail when I had the time.

When I moved to Grand Rapids, I started riding a bit more.  I'd try to rip a lap and see how fast I could get.  One of my first friends was a National Champion Mountain biker.  I'd ask her what a fast lap at the course I had thought I had just dominated.  After realizing I was like 15 min slower then her best time, my ego took a hit.  Even though she was "Endurance" she was fast.  I was not.

Over the years, I'd ride more and more.  Still not fast, but it confronted several ego driven beliefs.  I was to big to be fast.  I would then be passed by much larger individuals.  Ah, my bike is no where as good as theirs.  Then I would be passed by a guy on a 3 speed beach cruiser.  I'm a lot older, as I get passed by clearly a man in his 60's.  I have kids and then finding someone that can only ride from 9-11pm at night because he puts his kids to bed and he competes against pro's.  My tires are wider, and then get passed by a fat bike.

Biking has obliterated all excuses.  It points back to simply one thing.  Did you put in the time and effort.  The more you commit and ride, the faster you get.  You can't buy speed.  You can be fast at any age.  You can be fast at any gender.  You can be fast on any bike.  It's all on you.  The more you train the faster you get.

Biking has always been adventure and freedom.  It has always been a great way to improve fitness.  It's always been able to show me magical places.  It now has been a way to show me my excuses aren't valid.

....I still am not fast.

...but I am faster then last year.

...and maybe I'll be faster the coming year.

But, if I'm not, it's not because of any of the excuses that have been demolished, it simply will be because I didn't do the one simple thing,  ride my bike more.



Monday, October 21, 2019

My Random Thoughts During the Flu

There are some things I'd rather not have first hand experience with, the flu being one of them.  Sadly,  I was able to check that one of the list this past week.  I'm now a Flu veteran.  I can tell war stories of losing 14 pounds in 3 days, of your joints feeling like they will break, and the occasional movement triggered vomiting.   From what I can tell, I don't think I even had like a "serious" case.  But, you have 3 days and 4 nights of thinking about things and that is all I could do, because that is all I had the energy to do.

Here are the the things I thought about and the answer I found if they were a question.

The deadliest Flu breakout was in 1918, The Spanish Influenza.  Depending on who you read, between 20-50 million people died.   Most agree 500 million people were infected.  What made this such a troubling flu was that it not only killed the young and old, it killed just as many in their 20-30's.  Science has traced back and decided that the flu virus of the early 1900's was different from the one that showed up in 1918 and that a small piece of the bird flu combined to give the perfect killer.  Reading more and more on the research that went on and is going on to learn what we can on the Spanish Influenza made me order a book on the subject.

About day two, so about 48 hours of curled up under blankets without any sunlight or movement, feeling a bit sorry for myself, you start to wonder if having a good aerobic base, lifting weights etc...does anything when it comes to fighting off the flu.  From what I can tell and have read, not much.  The caveat, and it's a big one, is for older populations.  The more muscle mass you have to lose, the better health insurance you have.  Essentially any bed rest at all, sarcopenia starts kicking in fast.  Lose 50% of your muscle and the result is death.

I started to think about the great Indigenous peoples the Americas had.  Huge cities of thousands according to the book 1491.  Massive amounts of people wiped out by virus's such as small pox.  It was one of those things I was just mind wandering around, if I had been born an Inca warrior training for lifetime and one day you go to bed healthy and next you wake up shivering and body sore and everyone around you the same, and your country is being invaded.  Weird where the mind goes.  But I think I understand now, how so few conquered so many, so quickly.

Talk about weirder side thoughts.  If the body, mind and soul are one thing, does one not affect the others and vice versa?  My dreams, when the fever felt to be at it's worse, were truly twisted.  Now, I've had nightmares before, things that truly have frightened you, and I have had dreams where terrible things happened and you woke up sad, I've had majestic dreams where you go on adventures and dreams where it felt like I relived something in my past.  These were different, they left me feeling disturbed.  Things that made you feel like your soul was being attacked.  It was an interesting night contemplating if one has the belief to do so.

The Flu Vaccine.  I don't get it, at this point I probably still won't.  I read it has a 47% success rate for young healthy aged population this year.  Not as gracious for those over 65.  If it was a slam dinger of a vaccine, I'd for sure get one.  But with a 50/50 success rate and basically the symptoms are lessoned, not sure it's worth it for me.  About 5 years ago, one of my all time cool patients I had been helping with a TKR in the past,  got the shot, with in a day, was unable to move.  He didn't move again for like 9 or 10 months.  The flu shot had triggered Guillain-Barre' Syndrome.  He was in a wheelchair directed by breath for the next 9 months and was told it will leave with the suddenness that it came.  It did, but has left him in lifetime battle for the complications.  Stories like that I don't think I can shake.

But, If I had to get the shot, or if I decide to ever get it, I'd ramp up my gut health protocols for about 3 weeks.   I did find this really cool study from Onegevity journal that showed a different response in people that had taken antibiotics that year.  I first heard of Onegevity from Dr. Joel Dudley at the ALTIS High Performance Think tank.  The state of your gut microbiome when you get the shot, will influence how effective the vaccine will actually be!  Outstanding.  Now you have a gameplan if you choose to get one.

How long will the Flu influence return to baseline performance.  I recently did some testing with trap bar deadlift and have been working on 2 hour time trial style mountain biking.  A bike race in two weeks being the goal.  It will be interesting to see how it play out.

I lost 14 pounds from when I weighed myself Monday night at 196lb to when I weighed myself Friday morning, 182lb.  One of the things I tried out was a new style of recovery called RevIVe Therapy.  I went with the standard "Myers Cocktail"  B vitamins, Vitamin C, Magnesium Calcium.  It seemed to be the one most targeted at dehydration.  It did put on 3 pounds quickly.

I've always found it interesting when your tastes change during sickness and what you eventually want to eat.  You know I'm sick when I don't want my coffee!

The lack of food for almost 3 days, most certainly acts like a fast, triggering autophagy.  Although, when you are battling a virus, trying to eat what you can, (don't force feed) is helpful.  Bacterial infections, I would avoid eating.   Two different beasts.

I wear a watch with a heart rate monitor when I sleep.  Most nights my average HR is 48, 49.  Days I work out extremely hard, like a 4 hour bike ride or a super hard 2 hour ride and it was later at night it would be in the low 60's.  The first 3 nights of dealing with the flu it was in the low 60's all 3 nights.  Shows the strain the body is going through.

I'm always surprised how olfaction changes.  The smell of lemon scented cleaning products triggered a dry heaving episode.  I'd say puking, but nothing was in me to come up.  There must be an ingrained sense of evolutionary security that warns us off irritants when we are sick. 

So the best remedy is prevention.  Concrete things.  Get outside, fresh air.  Work at keeping your gut health optimal.  I'd take a probiotic.  I personally use and recommend Sound Probiotic.  Wash your hands.  Did you know its the friction that is important, not necessarily the soap.  It takes 20 seconds of rubbing the hands together to get the desired effects, with warm water.  Get your sleep.  Sweat some.  Stay hydrated.   



Friday, October 4, 2019

Callus of the Mind, Body and Soul

The body has a miraculous way of providing protection against the friction it encounters.  The callus. A callus is a thickening of the skin from repeated bouts of friction or pressure.  It provides a barrier of protection against the threat that is routinely there.

A runner will often develop calluses on their feet.  An extra barrier against the friction of the shoe as it strikes the hard ground over and over again.  A weight lifter or carpenter will develop them on their hands from the friction of the bar or the tool.  Every rep an irritation and trigger for the body to send a response and it lays on more skin as a result.

A callus must form from consistent effort in the correct dose.  To few effort and a callus won't form.  The stimulus isn't consistent enough.  Why put energy into creating a protective barrier if the insult doesn't come along enough.  On the other hand, if the insult comes with to much intensity, you don't get a callus, you get a blister.

A callus is a clue.  Where has the friction been coming from.  Certain coaches and therapists will tell you that looking at a callus in the wrong place may be a clue that biomechanically there is an issue.  A seasoned runner that develops a new callus creates a cause for inspection.

Why has this new friction been accumulating?

Callusing can also happen in other areas of our life.  It struck me this week as I watched a sprinter win the 100m World Championships in 9.76 seconds.  It made the SportsCenter number 7 play.  9.76 seconds! Only 5 other men in the history of the planet have run as fast or faster...ever.  A home run was like number one.  Perhaps it was because there was some controversy over some missed drug testing.  I would say we are callus to that as well.  No longer shocked when an athletic great tests positive.

One of the great things about kids is that they haven't been callused to the wonders of nature.  I don't know how many times I'm made aware of the "awesomeness" of an insect or the "prettyness" of a flower.

I can remember talking to a friend when we heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook.  It was a blister moment etched in my mind.  Sadly, I think with the news media/social media, frequency of horror, shooting are becoming less blister, more callus.

David Goggins has a saying callus your mind.  At least that is where I first heard it.  Simply means when your doing something that is hard and the voice in your mind is screaming quit, don't.  Kill that voice.  Callus your mind.  The brain is all about conservation of self.  It lies essentially to get you to slow down, reduce effort, stop.  The body can go longer, harder, if you don't let your mind stop you.  Callus it.

We need friction in life if we are ever going to do anything worthwhile.  Friction provides the resistance to get stronger.  It gives us the irritant to produce the callus if we put in the consistent work.  Callus allow us to do more work comfortably, it is a buffer.  Buffers for the most part are good. The key is allow the things that should sting us, blister us, continue too.  To not let the things that should make us take action and eliminate that friction from becoming a callus.

Honor the blister, work for the callus.  Be mindful of both.  They both have their correct place.  Choose wisely.