Friday, March 30, 2012

Magnesium Supplementation for Recovery and Relaxation

While working out in Phoenix this past week, I had the opportunity to ask a respected Naturopath that works with the UK sprinters and many NFL players about common deficiencies she sees. Without any hesitation, the answer was magnesium.

Magnesium has been estimated to be deficient in 80% of the population and is required in over 300 reactions in the human system.

She supplements with up to 2 grams per day which I found fascinating. She generally starts at about a gram and then as the athletes build tolerance starts to go up. She liked a combination of magnesium citrate, glycinate and taurate. But, if you could only choose one, pick glycinate. Glycinate performs more for muscle recovery and performance, citrate for constipation/digestion and taurate for pure relaxation.

-train out pain and train in performance!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hungry for Change is Worth the Watch

An old friend of mine told me about a new movie/documentary called Hungry for Change. It's brought to you by the same people that brought the awesome documentary Food Matters. Best part, for the next two days you can watch it free on their website. I'm hoping the link works, but if not just google it. It is worth the hour and a half to learn some important stuff that I don't think many people know.

Hungry for Change

-train out pain and train in performance!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: Power of Habit

I was traveling out to Phoenix, AZ this week to work with UK Track and Field.

One of the things I like to do is download an audio book for the plane trips. This book is called "Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. This seems to be a popular choice as I saw it featured in Men's Journal and Outside Magazine.

It's a pretty interesting book combining both psychology, social interaction, athletics, health and the the reasons behind the Why.

Throughout the book Duhigg gives example after example of real life cases that reinforce the premise of his point.

The barebones of the Power of Habit is 3 steps. Cue, routine, reward. Understand and analyze the cue and reward and you can change your routine. You won't change the cue or reward.

To change a habit, belief is critical. Belief is much easier in a social setting. It can be as small as two people. This is a critical aspect in organizations like AA. I personally feel this is why Crossfit has become so popular. There is a community that people lack at work or in their personal life.

Figure out Keystone Habits. Maybe it's as simple as laying your workout clothes at night so they are right there when you wake up in the morning. When keystone habits change, other habits follow.

The book gives great examples from Alcoa, Starbucks, Michael Phelps, ect. It delves into will power and the science behind that. This was pretty interesting. More and more research is being done to understand will power.

One study showed that kids that could delay eating a marshmallow had greater success in other things. But, will power is not infinite. You have a reservoir, so understand what you use your will power on.

This was a worthwhile book, understand your cue, why you value that reward, get in some type of social circle that is congruent with what you want to accomplish, believe that it can be done, create small wins and "don't eat that marshmallow."

-train out pain-train in performance

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Motivation: Daniel Pink on Motivation

This is a little different video. Won't get you pumped up to go workout, but may help you understand motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic much better. In the pursuit of health and performance , if one can switch from carrots and sticks to autonomy, mastery and purpose, excellence will follow.

Carrot and stick rewards do have their place though. Finish this set, get to the top of this hill, 5 more pounds. Simplistic tasks in the moment.

Daniel Pink has also written a few books I have enjoyed if you like his video and want to see what else he has to say.

-train out pain-train in performance

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shift in Societal View on Obesity

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Are standards
are falling and we are failing our youth.

-train out pain-train in performance

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fixing Painful Shoulder and Hands of the Rock Climber

Rock climbing, particularly, bouldering is an amazing sport.  I've written before about the physical chess game that solving a bouldering problem can become.  How it improves proprioception and core strength and builds muscular strength and endurance.  It breaks out of the standard two dimensional activities that exercise often produces; biking, running, lifting.

It is a highly repetitive activity though.  With high repetitions comes a chance that without good technique, or technique that gets sloppy with fatigue, injury and pain can occur.  The two most common injuries I see in my clinic in Grand Rapids is shoulder pain and hand pain.

First, hand pain.  It can be hard on the hands to say the least.  It takes years to build up the tendon strength in your hands.  If you ever meet a serious climber, you will notice the fingers are thicker then your average athlete.  Until you make this adaptation, you may want to stay off finger hangs.  Tendons are the insertion of muscles though, so one way to make this adaptation is obviously to comb more.  Loose, healthy muscles, allow more volume of training/climbing.

I've posted a video previously about using a wine cork as a mini foam roller.  Just as a runner would foam roll quads/hip before and after running.  It's a great idea for climbers to foam roll the forearm flexors (with the wine cork) before and after climbing.  This helps to keep the flexor muscles, thus the flexor tendons loose and strong.

2nd, and more common problem is a painful shoulder.  Climbing is all pulling, with a bit of isometric holds thrown in for good measure.   Bad technique will find you shrugging up before reaching with the arm and pulling.  People naturally sense that the upper trap is a bit stronger on them, so they use it that way.  This is faulty mechanics.  This is also an easy go to, when fatigue sets in.

Proper technique should always try to keep the shoulder blade down and then pull.  This activates the lower traps and allows proper muscular activation.  When the upper trap raises first, the rotator cuff muscle, supraspinatous is shut off.  This should be the first thing to stabilize the glenohumeral socket.  Next, the infraspinatous/teres minor ends up trying to stiffen to keep the shoulder from turning into internal rotation.  This is a losing battle.  Over time, these muscles will shorten and become painful to the touch.  They will not offer any more stability.

Most athletes aren't aware that these muscle are shut off and keep climbing.  The next event in the cascade of ugly, is the biceps (long head) is recruited to stabilize the GH socket.  This is one of your major players in flexing.  You are now asking the simple bicep to do to much.  This over time will irritate the biceps tendon in the humeral groove.  This will get peoples attention.

I think push ups with a bit of extra protraction at the top are good additions to climbers programs.  Take a lacrosse ball and pin it on the ground with your shoulder blade.  Slowly grind into it.  It should hurt in a good way.  This will help keep that infra/teres group from binding down.  Exercises such as face pulls and band pull a parts are awesome additions.  This strengthens the rhomboids, lower traps and rotator cuff muscles.

Bouldering is an awesome fitness activity that the whole family can enjoy.  Pack a wine cork, lacrosse ball and small fitness band in your bag, next to your chalk bag and shoes.  Keep good pulling technique in mind and those shoulders and hands will stay healthy.

The pictures were shot by a buddy and awesome climber Ted Bingham.  He's a sweet photographer as well.  His email is

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What You Have in Common with NFL Players

Recently, we have had an increase of NFL players come into the clinic here in Grand Rapids, for treatment to increase performance. You would be surprised at the similarities you have in common. While most people come in because of pain, these guys realize their job is their body and come in to figure out how to get better.

These guys are all big strong and fast, but they deal with the same neurological and myofascial rules we all play with.

Poor thoracic mobility will contribute to stiffness feeling and improper shoulder function.

Hip stiffness will slow you down, make you less athletic and contribute to lots of low back issues.

You don't out train poor nutrition. You may get away with it for a few weeks, but it comes crashing back to haunt you.

One thing to take away that is different is the mindset. They view their body as a machine to take care of. Health and performance are not an after thought, to be pursued when you are already sick and injured.

Pursue health and increased performance is around the corner.

-train out pain-train in performance

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Circadian Rhythm and Immunity

I was reading an article the other day about how the time of day can affect how well you fight off bacterial and viral infections.  Blood cells that fight infection have a peak and lag, one such cell is TLR9.  They did an experiment with mice where the mice were infected at times of the day that correlated to certain ebb and flow of the blood cell.  When the TLR9 was high, the mice survived much longer, when it was low, the infected mice died much sooner.  Another part of the study, the part I was interested in, was that mice that were vaccinated at the TLR9 peak had a stronger immune response then those vaccinated at the circadian low point.

It ties in how, if you get sick, the feeling of lethargy happens, how people that have jet lag are much more predisposed to get sick.  A few things you can do to influence your circadian rhythm in a positive manner is to go to bed at regular times, reduce the amount of light you start to take in an hour before bed and try to get natural sunlight on your eyes within an hour of waking.

Here is the article, "Your Body Clock Can Determine When You Get Sick."

Here are a few studies, "Biologic Rhythms in the Immune System."

Effects of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms on Human Immune System.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Product Review: Vitamix

I've been a juicing and blending advocate for years and years. I think I lived off a blender when I was trying to keep weight

on for football and bobsleigh with protein smoothies. As my focus shifted to more nutrient based drinks following a family members diagnosis with Non hodgkins Lymphoma, I got heavy into juicing.

My only problem with juicing was the pure laziness of myself. I hated the prep and especially the clean up. I did it less and less. Enter the Vitamix.

I didn't think I needed an expensive blender, which wa my initial reaction. My views have changed. This thing is a machine! It has replaced my blender and juicer. If I had purchased it first, I probably would have saved money.

In the past month I've eaten (ingested) more vegetables then probably the previous year. Bonus, you still get the fibre. I contacted Terry Wahls of Feed your Mitochondria fame, and she gave the green light on it being used for following her 3 cups of greens, 3 cups of sulphur and 3 cups of color routine.

Highly recommended. Oh, you can clean it in less then 30 seconds!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Endurance Athletes, Immunity and Probiotics

My friend of mine (an awesome acupuncturistt)  recently sent over this article about probiotics, cycling and immunity.  Study was done with cycling both male and female and some interesting results were examined.  It seems that supplementing with lactobacilli fermentum improved the immunity of the men, but not the women.  It's one of the first studies done with hard training individuals.  More information is obviously needed to figure out why the difference in men and women.  Here is an article that describes all the parameters.  Lactobacilli and Cyclists.     If you're a man and endurance athlete, pursuing probiotics as a immunity booster looks to be fairly promising.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bodyweight Movement for Fatigue Mastery

Every few weeks on a Saturday morning I will throw in a repetition day in the weight room. I don't enjoy running distance so I use it as a type of resisted cardio. Some call it GPP ( general physical prep) The benefits are I can get some clean volume in, keep a mastery of body weight exercise, but also I can learn two things I think are important.

First mastering posture and breathing while fatigued and secondly, finding weakness while fatigued.
A. 100 pushups
B. 100 Glute ham raise
C. 100 chin ups
D. 100 KB swings
E. 100 Inverted rows
50 jump ropes in between every set done. Each set has a maximum of 20 reps. So if you can do 30 push ups, you still stop at 20, do a set of jump rope and go to the Glute ham. The jump rope sets are done with a tall spine, breathing in through the nose, using that diaphragm.

You will learn to keep good breathing technique while fatigued. As you progress you will quickly find out what your weakness is. Mine at the moment is vertical pulling. This then will become more of a focus for me in the weeks that follow. You can substitute swiss ball leg curl for the Glute ham and box jumps for the KB swings. Don't allow any rest between each exercise, force yourself to move quickly. Enjoy!

-train out pain and train in performance!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Misguided Thinking and Osteoporosis

More and more I have patients coming in telling me they got labeled with osteoporosis and that their Doctor is putting them on a calcium supplement.  They think, yea bones are made of calcium, that makes sense.  Then they ask is there anything else they can do.  This is the rundown.

Osteoporosis, starts out as osteopenia.  Osteopenia is the decrease in bone density.  You don't really pick up osteopenia on X-ray and when you see osteoporosis on X-ray, you are really far behind in the bone health game.

Essentially your body has started to leach calcium from your bones, making them more brittle.  Why is your body doing this?  Chances are you gave it the green light.  What heavy weight bearing exercise are you doing daily or even weekly?  Bone responds to gravity.  Astronauts lose bone density, because they don't have to fight gravity. Wolff's law states that every change in the form and function of a bone leads to changes in it's internal architecture and in its external form.  Even a few days of bed rest will start the cascading event of bone loss, just as hitting your shin against a pole like a Muay Thai fighter will make the tibia bone thicker and stronger.

If your doctor said your weak and need to build muscle, take this protein supplement, because muscles are made of amino acids/protein, would you think, yea that makes sense?  Or, would the first thing that pops in your head be OK, I guess I need to start lifting some weights?  Why then when we need to build bone, we think just taking calcium will solve all our woes?

First taking calcium alone may add to the problem.  The ration of calcium to magnesium should be 2 to 1.  It's estimated that 80% of people are magnesium deficient so further adding in Ca+ may actually make things worse.  So up your Magnesium.  FDA keeps upping the requirements.  Surprise.  A few years ago it was at 200mg now it's 400.  So it's probably more like 600-750mg.

Vitamin D has shown to be a big time player in it seems everything!  This has been shown to help with bone density and preventing further bone loss. Again the FDA keeps upping the RDA.  If you are dealing with osteopenia or osteoporosis I would suggest 5000 to 8000IU.  I would get a blood test first and try to get levels in the 50-70 range.

Vitamin K2 has been shown in research to actually help restore bone density.  This would be worth looking to add into your regiment.  Foods that you can get Vit K2 in is natto, miso and soy sauce.  Shoot for 8-10mg for prevention and 45mg while being treated.  Lots of research coming out of Japan in this area.

Quit the junk!  Soda leaches phosphorous out of the bone.  Processed foods leach nutrients and interferes with digestion.  Some research suggest that digestion (lack of it) is one leading cause of osteopenia.

You must get weight bearing and use gravity.  Start with isometrics.  It's been shown that 10 min a day of site specific isometrics can improve not only strength but bone density.  Here is that  STUDY.  When this gets very manageable, start adding in some movement.  Goblet squat with press overhead or walking lunges.  This may be not only the treatment but the best way to prevent bone health problems.

Preventive is always the best option.  Don't let your bone health slip, but like most things, do the right things and you will be fine.  Eat as much organic whole food as you can, cut out the junk/processed food as much as possible.  Move and lift stuff.  If you're fighting for your bone health, iso's first, then move.   Add in the aforementioned supplements.  Switch to more of a whole food diet and cut out the junk.  Always remember that bone is a living thing, not just a hard piece of mineral, feed it and treat it well.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Herbs and Spices for Antioxidants

The herb is no Herb.  Canadian Bobsleigh had a term for someone that didn't quite have the athleticism to make the sport, Herb.   Definition: slow, weak, soft.  Lets take a look at some real herbs.

I was reading through a few articles and one referenced this article in the Nutrition Journal.  The article deals with measuring antioxidants in various food groups.  Spices and Herbs come out extremely high.  I will list a link to all the foods/values at the end.

The study was done by The Norwegian Crop Research Institute that found that herbs have higher antioxidant values then plants.  Clove, rosemary, peppermint and turmeric among others, were found to be significant in value.

The take away from the reading is to learn to incorporate spices and herbs in foods you eat to boost your antioxidant uptake.  I know I have fallen into greens and berries thinking when it comes to antioxidants.  It was a nice reminder that herbs and spices have long played a role in ancient medicine and cooking and should still be used.  Ingesting the herbs, won't help you from being a Herb, (ingest deadlifts/sprints) but they may help lower inflammation, improve digestion and spice up that 3rd chicken breast you're ingesting for the day.

This is the link to the 3100 listed foods with their antioxidants measure.  3100 LIST.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Motivation: Mitochondria in Action

This is a super interesting video that shows the power and intelligence your body contains. Feed those mitochondria!