Friday, October 30, 2015

Coloring Books as Meditation

Meditation has been one of the hottest "trends" in the last 5 years.  I say trend a little sarcastically, because it has been around for literally thousands of years.  It wasn't until the last 5-10 years though that they are realizing the implications for brain health.  There has been a high interest into what is actually happening to the brain when you meditate.  With the use of fMRI and EMG we now know how much physical and mental health benefits can be achieved.

Brain grey matter is preserved.  Monkey brain, or wandering brain is decreases and this has been shown to increase happiness.  It has been shown to increase volume size.  (Bigger Brain!)  Increase concentration.  Reduce anxiety.  These are just a few known benefits.

Meditation or mindfulness can be achieved by many methods.  Some use breathing.  Some use music.
The latest trend we are seeing is the use of coloring books.  Seems a little odd until you really start to figure out what is happening.  Relaxation happens.  Creativity flow a little easier.  Here is an article that talks about this.  Coloring is the Best Alternative to Meditation.

A few psychologists are now saying coloring can be a strong alternative to meditation as some of the same things are happening.  So if you have found meditation hard, perhaps pick up a coloring book and go for it.

Here is picture I colored this week.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Random Likes, Thoughts and Notes.

Just some random thoughts and notes of things I've read or am thinking about.

Facebook saved function is awesome.  Actually easier then Evernote.  My Facebook feed is packed full of quality people that put out some pretty cool links to articles and videos.  The saved feature lets you go back and read all the ones you want to when you don't want to devote the time to read and take notes right then.

The app Split Screen is what I have been looking for.  It was 4.99 but well worth it.  I can take an article I'm reading on the web brower, hit the left screen and it goes left.  I can then keep my note taking on the right screen.  So both are open and able to go back and forth much easier while I read and take notes.

As we enter winter, 1000 IU of Vitamin D would be needed to raise your number 5mmol. Get it measured and keep it between 50-70.

I believe I may have figured out my question of why I felt so bad eating so clean and inversely why I felt so much better (joint wise) eating some "junk."

One carbohydrate is capable of carrying 2.7 grams of water.  Dehydration can definitely create more pain in joints.  I believe as I cleaned my diet up of all grains/processed foods, my hydration didn't really increase.  So by way of eating clean, I was actually dehydrating myself.  Can also explain some pretty quick loss of weight over 3-4 weeks.  Can also explain why I felt like I was going to pass out while mountain biking and getting light headed after heavy deadlifts.

This is going to be another experiment this winter.

Alga and Chlorophyll when examined in research is overrated as a superfood.  Save your money.

Something to think about for weight lifters, power lifters, cross fitters and anyone else trying to do a weighted movement with improper form/mobility.  You may not get hurt now but you know your not 100% great with it.  Would you hurt your brain now for Alzheimer's later?  Of course not, treat your joints the same.

Blind women are half as likely to get breast cancer.  This is suspected because they have higher melatonin levels.  Perhaps supplement with melatonin?

Tendon injuries are often associated with motor control changes.  Self paced strength training has been shown to help strength, but not motor control.  This would be down on 3, up on 3.  External paced, like the use of a metronome have been shown to alter motor control.

Coffee, time and time again , proves to be pretty healthy for you.  Liver more healthy, less type 2 diabetes and less Alzheimer's.

Being grateful has more and more powerful brain magic.  Even when you don't think you have anything to be grateful for, the act of trying to remember shows emotional intelligence and has positive impact on your biology.  Be grateful.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Defining Your Definition of Better Training

"Did you get better today?"

It's a simple question.  The answer can say a lot about your training.  In the scope of your training, your definition of why becomes utmost important.  Because to answer the first question, you must first ask yourself a more important question.  

"Why are you training?"

When the Why is your outline you can fill in with smart programming your how and when.  

Your why has to be very important to you.  I was reading through a very informative article on how our brains are wired.  One of the more interesting facts was how our brain views things like exercise. If you hate something, for example, getting up in the morning to go for a run, because you think you should, doesn't elicit the same health benefits as someone that loves the morning and loves running.  

Essentially, to the brain, your "I have to" isn't a voluntary action any longer.  You don't get the same pleasure neurotransmitters release.  It's just another stress.  It's the reason finding the why must be examined and then back filled in with ways that are both enjoyable and goal centered.  

If your goal is weight loss and you hate running, but this is your method you have chosen,  chances are this isn't a habit that will probably stick.  Make sure weight loss is your real goal.  Often, when I ask why weight loss to clients, they just want to feel better.  Sometimes this comes from weight loss, sometimes not.  Not feeling well can come from many varied reasons, not just weight loss.  Getting there can be just as varied in the methods.   Find a method you enjoy.  I personally dislike long distance running, but really enjoy jumping rope and rucking.  

My training goals are to have better feeling joints.  I hired a coach to help me attempt to get my elbows better.   I like having a 2x bodyweight deadlift.  That is really not that much when comparing to anyone that actually lifts to compete in any strength pursuit, but for me, that is just fine.  I want to be in good enough cardio to ride my bike for enjoyment and not be tired.  We have awesome mountain bike trails in West Michigan.  

One of my favorite (almost all) are just to think up workouts and then do them.  They usually have a theme to them that can tie back into my big picture goals.  This in itself is a goal.  To be healthy an fit enough to do what I dream of doing.  

Some days its 20 prowler pushes on the minute.  Some days its just punching the heavy bag paired with ring pull ups.  These are also the most enjoyable to me.  Think of something and go do it.  These are probably also producing the most pleasurable neurotransmitter release.  

So did I get better today.  By the definition of my goals, I did some things to work on my elbow and hip health.  So yes.  I did a bunch of pull ups at the park with my kid, followed by lunge position depth drops.  Just something I was playing around with.  So yea...I got better today.  

Will this type of unstructured training lead to anything big.  No.  But, you must understand that isn't the goal currently.  When you define your training, you can define your method.  Always know you are on the right path if you can answer the question with a yes.

"Did I get better today?"

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Everyone Needs a Coach at Some Point

I first heard of the name Will Chung on a podcast from Blue Collar Podcast.   It was a very interesting talk about movement, training and seemingly figuring out injuries that others had failed to do.  He had quite an interesting background through martial arts, sport and training.  Over the next few weeks I started to notice his name in the background of other Facebook friends that he was helping and training.  He's been called the "shadow of the fitness industry" because he knows so many people in fitness and health and has helped quite a few "big names."

It was almost like when you are interested in a certain car and almost magically you start to see that car on the road.  Not that it wasn't there before, but now your conscious is aware of it.  That's the experience I had.

Frustrated with my lack of improvement in an old elbow injury, I figured I would reach out to him.  A friend said he had helped greatly with his own elbow injury.  We talked for a bit through Facebook and after thinking about it for about a month, (I'm a bit slow in things) I decided to schedule a Skype consult.  Never had done this type of thing.   Honestly I've never hired a coach.  Coaching is so undervalued in any profession.

I can remember reading this article a few years ago and realizing the importance a coach can make.  Personal Best:  Top Performers and Athletes have Coaches, Should You?  I've watched patients make great strides when they get on a program.

You have to come with a bit of humble pie.  An open cup as the saying goes.  Perhaps, it took me a few years from the article till now for me to empty my cup enough and just say, my knowledge up this point doesn't have the answer.  I need to seek a coach.

I'm glad I finally made it to that point.  Through the first few sessions I'm starting to feel improvements.  It's not magic.  It's work on my part.  Every day and night.  I work the drills.  The magic is in the subtle vectors that have eluded me.  This is where the "Chung Fu" comes into play. Yea, I've done this stretch, this exercise before.  Oh wait, a slight change in foot position, a slight twist of the shoulder, and it becomes what is exactly needed and completely new and unique to me.

As a chiropractor, manipulating a joint isn't about power or force.  It's slight angles and vectors and velocity.  The same with exercise.

Some concepts I've really embraced through this training/coaching.  When you get done with an exercise you should feel like a better human being.  If you get done doing an exercise and feel worse. Something is wrong.  Several of my patients are already getting some of the benefits from some Chung Fu drills.

Will has a pretty crazy ability to hone in on muscle imbalance and really exploit it.  It's been a great learning process so far and I'm really excited I took the leap and hired a coach.  This is for anyone sitting on the fence to hire a coach or go that seminar because you think you can figure it out yourself.      Keep learning, stay a student, find the gaps in your program that only outside help can see.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Push the Fear Away

If you have never been in serious pain, it is impossible to fully relate to someone that has.  You can "understand" they are in pain, but you can't have empathy.

One of the blessings in life I've realized is that I have been physically hurt.  Through most of my injuries I have come out on the other side with learning lessons, better training philosophy, deeper appreciation for health and overall being a better clinician.

It drives you to read about and understand the mechanism of injury.  Because, at the root of almost everything, people, even myself are always asking "Why me?"

People want to know why they got hurt.  Why is this painful?  How do I get out of this pain?  How do I keep it from ever coming back?

Somewhere along the line, there can take root some serious fear.  The body has an amazing ability to heal itself.  The cast isn't healing the broken bone, the cast just keeps you from doing stupid stuff so the body can heal the fracture.

What doesn't' heal well at times though is the psychological impact of the injury.  The fear of being hurt again.  The fear of the pain that you remember being in.  The fear of the helplessness that you felt while hurt.

This at times is the bigger hurdle.  The battle with fear.  I can remember laying on a floor for days in back pain.  Every time I deadlift it is in the back of my mind.  Every rep I do, I'm beating back that fear.  There can't be avoidance.

I see the repercussions of avoidance everyday.  If this hurts, quit doing it.  If it hurts in this range of motion, maybe go with a slightly smaller range of motion.  Avoidance only feeds the fear.  Your allowing it to grow.  Because of the avoidance other health related issues arise.

After attending a FRR seminar awhile back,   I realized I had associated spinal moment with back pain.  I never broke neutral and held extension.  Good for my back health with lifting, poor for my spinal health in general life.  I had lost the ability to flex and articulate my upper lumbar and lower thoracic vertebrae. I had become so concerned with not having neutrality, that I had lost mobility.  This is an example of fear avoidance leading to health problems unrelated to your original pain/problem.

I've never had such a stark reminder of the power of fear with lower back pain then today.  A patient that was afraid to jump slightly over a small cord.  You may need a 1" vertical to get over it.  This is a patient that had not had actual pain in over 2 years.  They remember the pain and have trained themselves to associate sudden movements with pain.  When I challenged them to jump over, they told me they didn't think they could remember how to.  They told me they were to weak.  This is learning to work through that fear.  Baby steps.  We will work on the psychological as we work through the physical.  It's in a way convincing them to trust their body again.  Trust must be earned.  Today a one inch jump.  Next week a 10 yard jog?  It's taking physical steps to push back the fear.

Sometimes we forget that full healing doesn't necessarily come with just physical healing.  There is a psychological healing that must also take place.   Every time I deadlift I push mine back, every time they jump, they will be pushing theirs back.  Find your way of pushing back your fear and PUSH!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sport, Training for Sport, Life After Sport and Youth

A conversation with a concerned parent sparked a train of thought the last few weeks that lead me to deeper thinking and eventually putting my thoughts to type.  There question was from the perspective of if you had to do it all over again, would you have participated in the same sports?  They were coming from the perspective of injury and how some of my joints are a little painful most days.

The question in a nut shell "Was it worth it?"

That is easy.  Yes.

My memories, friendships, lessons and overall out look on life has been influenced heavily from sports.  I wouldn't change that.

Granted, my injuries I feel are minor compared to others, so I'm sure many people would have different perspectives.  I can only speak for myself.

In fact, while I did get injuries in sport, I received just as many injuries in the weight room or in training.  This is where I would have changed the most.  If I had a time machine, I would go back to change my training habits and attitude.

In the early 90's when I was fully invested in training for football, the internet wasn't around.  I was still using Encylopedia's to look up topics, not Google.  There really wasn't much training info out there.  Like most kids that age, the monthly Muscle and Fitness was as close to authority as we had.  There weren't seminars.  Blogs and online forums were words that didn't exist.  In fact, there weren't many books.  I remember finding Eric Dickersons Power book and feeling like I hit the jackpot.  It didn't matter it was just pictures of Eric doing body building movements.  

I had a heavy bodybuilding focus.  The high school I attended was influenced by Bigger, Faster, Stronger.  I can remember spending so much time doing the dot drill thinking I was getting faster.  The dot drill is our modern day speed ladder.  Gets you tired and there ends the use.  Luckily I loved squatting.  I also think I benched three times a week because if it was tested in the NFL combine, it must be important for football players!

I believed this approach (see below video) and most everyone that I knew believed the same.

I also believed something like this would have been useless.

The mentality was lift heavy and lift as much as you could.  Bigger was better.  More weight was better.  Soreness meant you were doing something right.  Puking meant you had a good conditioning workout.   This was pretty much my mentality from 9th grade up till my first shoulder dislocation playing rugby in chiro school.

The problem with this mentality is when you are younger, if you show up, lift hard and keep adding weight to the bar, it works!  It works wonderfully!  But what no one ever told me, was it only works for so long.  There reaches a point of diminishing returns.  At a certain point I was big enough to play college football.  I didn't need to get bigger.  I needed to get more explosive, more dynamic, better conditioned for my sport.   Sometimes success from things you have done in the past is the worst indicator of what should be done next.

Muscle imbalances started to creep in by way of frequently pulling muscles.  The first lower back injury squatting.  Shoulder dislocations from huge shoulder girdle imbalances.  Mobility started to decrease.

In high school and college I'd wake up early to get in another conditioning session.  Sleep wasn't even on my radar as something important.  I wanted to get bigger and sleep was being cut out of the equation.  I wish I could go back and just tell myself,  SLEEP!  Sleep 9-10 hours a night.  It's the biggest anabolic/recovery tool you can have.  Want to get bigger and stronger.  Sleep more.

Football, Track, Rugby and Bobsled have all influenced me somehow from a training perspective, from the people I've met and places I've been.  I wouldn't change the games, I would change my preparation for them.

I feel bad for the kids these days, they are actually in worse shape then my generation.  They have been duped into thinking they will be better athletes from doing one sport.  (The Tiger Woods effect)  They are being sold speed ladders and specialty camps.  I grew up with out any experts, this one is growing up with experts everywhere.  They are being robbed of play and given programs.  When it finally is time to specialize, they are building a pyramid without a base of athleticism or strength.  These pyramids crumble easily.  Hence the fastest growing surgery is pediatric.  Kids are getting hurt more.

So as a parent and speaking to other parents.  Don't worry about the Game.  (Whatever your kid picks) Worry about the lack of play, the lack of movement and variability, the lack of smart training.  Take interest in that.  This I believe is the important part.  

PS.  As a caveat, we have some really smart people I know of that I can direct you toward in Grand Rapids and even across the country.