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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

My Thoughts on Whole30, Diets and Eating

The month of June I embarked on a trial of the Whole30 diet.  It was an interesting experiment.  I say experiment, because I knew from the get go, this wasn't going to be how I eat.  I'll dive into this more a bit later.

First, Whole30 is 30 days of eating no sugar, processed foods, artificial ingredients, bread or dairy.  I was solid except for a few beers (much less then my normal intake) and my raw milk.

I think many people are drawn to this because they have heard so many people talk about weight loss.    I believe it is becoming known for this.  Personally I lost about 8-9 pounds.  So, if this is your measure of success, I guess this diet (way of eating) is successful.

I've blogged before about how I became more attuned with things that have chemicals in them and lost my taste for them.  This I believe is a positive.

I discovered some interesting vegetables that I never knew about.  Kohlrabi being my favorite.  I would cut them up like french fries and bake them.  Delicious.  I plan on keeping the salad habit that we formed.

I realized some things are just as good without bread.  Burgers on lettuce were great.  In fact, I was able to eat more burgers when I kicked the bun to the curb.  Hence, I was trading junk (bread) for more healthy nutrients (burger).  

Now come some negatives.

I was always hungry.  I thought this would be the opposite.  Logic states that if I'm eating more "whole" foods instead of "processed" foods, I should feel fuller.  This was not my case.  I found this to be annoying.

The next point may be coincidence I don't know,  I can't explain it.  My joints felt horrific.  My lower back hurt the whole month.  My right elbow had more pain then normal.  My right knee which doesn't usually bother me a whole lot anymore, had a few weeks of significant discomfort.  These are all old injuries from sports, surgery, torn ligaments etc...

This all could have been coincidence.  But, coincidentally when I went back to eating my normal way, I almost felt 100% immediately.  Hmmm....If I was expecting one thing from this diet, I was thinking my joints would feel better as I've always thought sugar to be a major inflammatory marker.

My energy sucked.  Well, let me explain, my anaerobic power went into the crapper, as did my strength.  I could do life just fine, work, play with the kids, walk.  I felt like I was going to pass out after each rep in a deadlift session.  It wasn't as heavy as I would normally lift as my back didn't quite feel right yet either.  30 minutes into a mountain bike session, after biking up a tough hill, my vision started to narrow.  I had to stop for 5 minutes and suck down a friends carb drink.  This was a ride I should be capable of doing off the couch without issues.

Obviously when you lose weight your caloric intake is less.  Perhaps, if I had matched my old caloric intake with my caloric intake on the Whole30, things would have been different.  As it was, I was eating as much as I could.

The month was good though for a few reasons.  It clarified my thinking on a few topics.  Diet is the only way I think the majority of people will ever lose weight in the U.S.   Before this month I would have leaned more towards exercising.  I'd be more 80/20 food to exercise now.  It seems silly in hindsight, if someone asked me what you would need to do to gain weight, my first response would be eat more.  So why wouldn't my lose weight advice be the opposite?

Your food and eating habits have to fit your lifestyle and beliefs.  I have gravitated towards an intermittent style of eating 4-5 days of the week because it fits my lifestyle so well.  I feel great on it. I believe it follows more of how humans evolved to eat.  Scarcity of food, or out looking for food, then a large meal.  This is one of the few ways of eating that has science and research that improves quite a few health markers.

I think their is a lot of fear based notions with food and eating.  I'm almost ready to say that if your eating or not eating something because of fear you need to really examine where this belief is coming from.  (I think this may be a longer blog post in the future)

Caloric intake is the key in my opinion to gaining or losing weight.  Nothing else.

My body (read MY) responds well to periods of fasting and periods of feasting.  Not much energy coming in and then big booms of energy.  Not much eating for 20 hours and then a pizza.  This is both mentally and physically.  Thinking about what I'm going to eat on the Whole30 was a stress to me.  No thanks!

I'm glad the month was over.  It's alway fun and interesting to explore new ideas, but in the end, find what works for you.  Just because it worked for someone else doesn't mean it's the right way for you.  I don't think there is a correct way to eat,  correct foods to eat, "bad" foods or magic diets.  Pay attention to everything you ingest, regardless if it's a Kale shake or DQ frosty.  Both have merits, eat without stress, eat with a purpose.    

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nic Bartolotta and Dynamic Contraction Technique

Thought this was a pretty solid talk on resistance stretching.  I'd be really interested in trying out his stretching contraption.  Seems legit.

Optimizing Flex-Ability.  This is his presentation.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2015

How Much of You is You?

"You are just a human shell for 100 trillion bacterial cells."

You have ten to one bacterial cells.  The uniqueness of the bacterial microbiom can not be understated in terms of importance for health.  It influences are vast.

Cesarean babies are more likely to be overweight as adults and deal with more allergies.  All because they miss the mothers helpful microbiom from the birth canal and are now influenced by the her skin.  This can then lead to metabolism and immune system difference later in life.

Being put on antibiotics at a young age can also negatively influence your good microbiom.

When I first saw these commercials by Snickers I thought they were pretty funny.  Now, thinking about them a little deeper, they have some significant insight.

You are what you eat.  We have all heard this, but how many of us believe it.  When you eat sugar and processed foods you are feeding and growing the bad bacteria.  After years, you will crave that "Snickers" bar.  When you don't get it, you can become irritable, tired and or angry.  Is that the real you?

My wife wanted to do the Whole30 program for a month.  Without getting into whether I think this is good or not, the premise is no sugar, artificial ingredients or breads for a month.  (I've simplified my definition)

I would have told you I don't have a lot of of sugar intake, I do like my ice-cream at night, but overall I would have put me on the very low end.  I was shocked by how the lack of sugar in my system affected me the first 4-5 days.

What I found very interesting is I tried drinking a sugar free Rockstar (yea I was going to cheat) I couldn't find coffee and after tasting one sip, spit it out.  It tasted like nothing but chemicals to me.  This is a drink I'd enjoyed every now and then for years.

Could things be changing this fast?

How much of this influence becomes who we are?  Overweight?  Happy?  Depressed?  Focused?  All these attributes have been shown to be highly influenced by the good vs bad bacteria.

Dealing with asthma, allergies, autoimmune problems, and weight issues can have enormous impact on individuals lives.   So much so that they become your life.  How much of this is you and not just your gut's dictating what you are?

Pretty interesting fields of research in all of this.  Realizing the things you like and how you respond to them may be so influenced by bacteria in your gut can be mind blowing.  It's a head trip to say the least, but it's worth exploring and striving for a "healthier" gut of bacteria.