Posts

Sudbury… ROCKS!!!

Hey Folks!

So I probably should have written a blog post about a month ago, but life got busy.  Sorry.

For those of you that don’t know, I (Dr. Ball) moved up to Sudbury to take over an awesome chiropractic practice and to bring the message of wellness to the masses up in Northern Ontario.  For those of you that may be new to my site, Wellness is the ability of your body to express and maintain ever increasing levels of health – you just need to provide the right input stimulus.  But what is the right stimulus?

The right stimulus means having access to an appropriate range of motion (having your spine checked out by a good quality Chiropractor, Physio, Massage therapist and whoever else you feel you should consult with), moving your body in intelligent ways (intelligently programmed CrossFit, MovNat, and the occasional other well programmed Strength and Conditioning facility).  Why does this matter?  Because movement charges your brains battery.  I like this great example I heard from Dr. James Chestnut; If you spend your day sitting around eating food and watching TV – are you energized?  Or are you tired?  Conversely, if you get up off the couch and go for a walk outside or do a little exercise, expending energy, do you feel more tired?  Or do you feel energized?  How does that make sense?  It makes sense because the movement of your body activates nerves, moves blood and as many great Chiropractors like to say, “turns the lights on”.  Movement isn’t the whole story though…

Another very important ingredient to the environment you provide your body is your diet.  You need to provide your body with highly nutritious foods (meats, vegetables, fruits, and good quality fats), and avoid those foods that are setting you back.  I’m sorry to say it, but there are foods that are less good for you, and foods that are more good for you, it’s as simple as that.  And unfortunately the USDA and most nutrition and diet “experts” don’t know this yet either, which makes me sad AND makes for conflicting nutrition advice that makes a reader like yourself want to say, “oh shut up, none of you know what you’re talking about – everything in moderation”.  I’ll resort to another great quote to counter the “moderation” dogma, “everything in moderation works so long as you only want a moderate level of health”.  And finally, the MOST important input to your success as a student of health (which we all are)…

Your mental health is the most important part of your internal environment.  De-stressing or finding practices that help you relieve your stress levels (breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi, etc.) are great ways to manage your internal environment.  If you don’t believe in yourself, it will help if someone else does, but ultimately YOU will decide your outcome.  Finding happiness and contentment is a daily practice and everyone has good days and bad.  Setting goals, spending time doing things you love, moving your body and eating well (those sound familiar) will all support a positive internal environment.

So for those of you that don’t know me – that’s what I’m about.  For those of you that do, it’s a nice reminder.  Set goals, set the micro-goals that lead to those goals.  How important are those goals to you?  If they’re important they’ll dictate how strictly you adhere to the guidelines that you know will lead to the achievement of your goal.  Slow progress is sometimes “easier” than quick progress.  Set the path and follow it closely.

Cheers Folks!  And to my Element and CFM friends, Miss you guys!

Dr. Adam Ball

The Shoulder Position – It won’t just strain your rotator cuff

So I had planned on stopping the “shoulders saga” after the previous two posts but then thought about this on the way to work today – there are a lot of ways to work on the shoulders that essentially do nothing for you, therapeutically.  I confess, in my past I have worked on shoulders for my benefit versus the benefit of my patient – but I was just a young buck, and didn’t know any better!  Dear therapists, repeat after me, “I will not punish my patients with painful soft tissue work for my own pleasure”.  Now then, what the hell am I talking about?

As you’ve read about before, the shoulder is an intricate and interesting structure with some pretty amazing functions that, when faced with a poor position to work from, will present with some problems.  I trust you’ve been doing some pre-hab, to correct your poor positioning and prevent future problems.

No doubt, at some point in your shoulder pain/discomfort/tightness past you’ve asked someone to give you a massage/shoulder rub/thumb-destroying good time.  No doubt, it hurt quite a bit, and if you were the victim of experienced hands, you may have had to use your safety word (which may or may not have been “popcorn”).  There is a decent chance you walked away and felt “better”, at least for a little bit.  Was it “better” in comparison to the excruciating pain you were just recently feeling?  Or did your shoulder pain go away only to come back in a day or two?  If you “felt a bit better” for a day or two, that’s good news, but the treatment was ultimately no different than popping a couple advil.

“Heresy!  Those patients’ muscles were sore and I stripped the hell out of their muscles and then they weren’t sore anymore!  What happened to “treating the cause???” – I fixed the problem!”

Did you?  Invariably, the rhomboids, levator scapulae, traps, rotator cuff muscles and maybe even the lats are going to be tender on a patient with an active shoulder complaint.  Taking this a step further, using trigger point therapy (or really just ischemic compression as there probably isn’t any true pain referral happening here), ART, stripping massage, or any of the other dozens of different soft tissue techniques on sore muscles is going to result in, “yeah that really hurts, but it hurts in a good way, you can press harder if you need to”.  Which means the patient believes the therapist is doing the right thing, and so does the therapist.  But WHY are the muscles tender and WHY did they develop this shoulder problem?  (The answer to this second question is not, “because they bailed awkwardly on a ring dip”)

Poor positioning and movement patterns.  This probably just sounds repetitive at this point but unless you work to correct your shoulder positioning, you are going to continue having problems.  Spend some time stretching out your “business” as Kelly Starrett would say.  Instead of being “bad” at certain movements, make sure you aren’t trying to execute those movements from a weak position and take the steps to improve your position.

Now, before I get attacked for “putting down” soft tissue work, which I’m not doing, let’s go back to how you should be approaching the solution to this problem.  You start with some poor scapulae positioning and then you do overhead work, pullups, oly lifting, etc. and experience some pain and your “bad shoulder” starts “acting up”.  By all means, see a therapist if you want to experience some serious pain, and naturally improve your pain status (after treatment) with regards to this acute situation.  Now that you’re past that, move forward and prevent future problems – ask your therapist what steps you should take (where to stretch, where to strengthen) to prevent future painful episodes.  Many times the tender muscles in an acute episode are not the muscles you should be working on to correct shoulder positioning.  For examples, the rhomboids are going to be sore in this acute situation, but they are more than likely weak and stretched away from their optimal position.  Pressing on them does nothing to improve shoulder positioning and may even make the situation worse.  Working on pec minor in an acute situation, isn’t going to do a whole lot to help with the patients pain, but would be the right step to take in improving shoulder positioning.

Now then, since you’re now seeing an awesome athletic therapist, massage therapist, physiotherapist or chiropractor that knows they’ve addressed your true problem and sent you on the path to wellness – Promise referrals, your first born, whatever, but make sure you thank your therapist for caring about you having some solid shoulders versus you coming back next time you do a work out with ring dips in it.

What’s that saying?  An ounce of prevention…?

Cheers Folks!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

The Shoulder Position or 10 minutes to a new you!

Hey Folks!

So it has taken me a little longer to get to this than I had planned, but here it is; What to do in the case of some poor shoulder positioning.  This is going to help you improve your function, meaning better pendlay rows, better overhead squats and better just about everything involving your arms, as I mentioned earlier.  It’s going to make your posture better, which is going to make you sexier and may even improve your confidence.  The world looks better when you’re standing upright with good posture.  For serious.

As a disclaimer:  I am only really speaking about the typical abducted and rolled forward shoulders that we see in the dreaded D-bag/Bridal shoulder position.  This is also known as “upper cross syndrome” but that makes it sound like you’re stuck with it.  We’re going to unstick you.  Keep in mind, there are plenty of other poor shoulder positions, but most of them just aren’t as common, especially among Crossfitters.  Now then… Let’s get started!

So first things first, have someone look at you (ideally shirtless, or with some tight clothes on) from behind and assess where your scapulae are hanging out while you stand comfortably.  If they look like the ones in this photo… then YOU are a victim of the D-bag/Bridal shoulder.  Oh the horror.  Here is what you need to do.

 

Notice the position of the “shoulder blades”

Do the following every time you’re in the gym (and if you aren’t in the gym regularly, you need to be doing this at LEAST 3x a week, and ideally 5x a week if you care about making progress):

Step 1 – roll your pecs out with a lacrosse ball (about a minute per side) – you can do this by leaning into a wall with the lacrosse ball placed just below your clavicle

Find some sore spots in your pecs with the Lacrosse ball

Step 2 – Stretch out your upper traps and suboccipitals for a minute per side – Sit on your hand and tilt your head away from the side of the hand your sitting on, search around by keeping your head tilted and looking down at your left shoulder, or trying to touch your ear to your shoulder (without cheating and shrugging your shoulder up to your ear).

Step 3 – Use either the two lacrosse balls taped together, or if you’re feeling ambitious, the foam roller – place them at the apex of your mid back (thoracic spine) curve (this is usually between the shoulder blades and with the Lacrosse balls, they’ll be straddling your spine) between you and the ground.  Place your hands on an empty barbell above your head in what would be your snatch or overhead squat position.  You can reposition the foam roller/lacrosse balls higher or lower depending on how you feel.  Spend a minute or two (depending on what you can tolerate) in this position.

Awesome.  So the goal of these stretches is to break up some adhesions and help create some “slack” in your pecs, and traps/suboccipitals.  This will also help open you up by adding thoracic extension and a stretch for your pecs.  The next step is going to involve strengthening the elements of these movements that are stretched and weakened.  Please remember… This is not Crossfit. This isn’t trying to move a large load a long distance quickly.  This is trying to hold a mild to moderate load still for a long time – so I guess it’s kind of the opposite?

Why would I want you to train these muscles differently than your glutes?  The main function of these muscles is to stabilize the scapulae, not to forcefully retract them – so we want to improve your muscular endurance, not your contractile power.  Once you’ve achieved better positioning, it WILL make developing more contractile power easier though.

You are going to ADD these exercises to your pec and trap stretches and you are essentially going to be doing them indefinitely.  Or at least until you have achieved better shoulder positioning, and the overhead squat is your new favourite lift.

Step 1 – Lie on a bench/chiro table/bed on your stomach with your head hanging off the edge.  Lift your head up as high as possible while also keeping your face parallel to the rest of your body.  You are still looking at the floor – NOT at the wall in front of you.  Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute and then relax.  Repeat once or twice more, depending on your tolerance.

Step 2 – If you’re really ambitious, you can combine this with step 1.  While you’re lying there on your stomach, point your thumbs towards the floor with your arms out at your sides and lift them up off the bed/table/bench.  You should feel the contraction between your shoulder blades.  Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute and then relax.  Repeat once or twice more, depending on your tolerance.

Chin tucked, head back, scapulae squeezed together. Hold.

Dig it!  There is all sorts of cool stuff you can do in addition to these stretches/exercises, but for now I would stick to this program.  It’s simple, it’s relatively easy and it only takes about 10 minutes.  You can spare 10 minutes to save your shoulders.  Future you will appreciate it.  Future you will also be crushing bodyweight snatches and smiling while she does it.

Cheers Folks!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

The Shoulder Position and Why Your Traps Aren’t Actually That Huge

Hey Folks!

We’re back with an exciting blog post about some proper shoulder positioning – where your shoulder should be, what that helps you to accomplish functionally, and the effects its’ position has on your appearance.  This information will change your life… or maybe just your press, and snatch, and overhead squat, and bench/push ups, and just about everything else that involves your arms… oh, and also the way people look at you (in a good way).

 

Anatomical position AKA where god/evolution/whoever/whatever decided your shoulders SHOULD be.

Due to our forward and front facing world, many of us succumb to what PT all-star Kelly Starrett would call the “D-bag” shoulder position, also known as “bridal” shoulder.  This is bad news for form and function because of the numerous movements and muscles involved with the scapula (what you would call your “shoulder blade”).  The scapula is a weird looking bone that allows our shoulders to have an impressive range of motion.  So what’s the deal with anatomical position, and why should you strive for better shoulder position?  If your scapulae are abducted and protracted (rolled forwards), some muscles in the area are chronically shortened while others are chronically stretched/lengthened.  Imagine having to walk with one flat on and one stiletto on – it wouldn’t be fun, right?  That’s what your shoulders are doing when you have poor shoulder positioning and its’ related shortened and lengthened muscles.  Anatomical position is where your scapulae rest when your muscles are relaxed and unaffected by years of poor posture and movement patterns.  Perfection is near impossible when you take into consideration handedness and unilateral sports (almost all sports) – but having good shoulder position will help with many functional movements which helps insulate your shoulder from injury.

 

Squeezing your pecs together might make them dance, but does not make them work better.

Rolled in shoulders are a danger to us all, but mostly to your lateral clavicles while you’re benching, your wrists, elbows and glenohumeral joint while overhead, and like I said earlier, just about everything involving the movement of your arms.  Pinning your shoulders back while benching means your arms have a solid base to push from, not just air and somewhere for that weight to push your shoulders, resulting in injury.  Having adequate range of motion in your shoulders means your elbows and wrists can take a break during cleans, front and overhead squats or snatches (I’m fairly certain this is responsible for most cases of “crossfit shoulder”).  Aside from the ridiculous tissue stress this poor positioning puts on the joints and their respective connective tissue (ligaments and cartilage), the muscles aren’t at their optimal position either.  When muscles are shortened or lengthened from where they should be they surrender proper force generation due to the sub-optimal overlapping of your actin and myosin (the tiny proteins in muscle responsible for pulling your muscles shorter or “flexing”).  So in short, being in this position makes you weaker than you could be, AND compensating for poor biomechanics in the shoulder with poor motion in the elbows and wrists is a recipe for injury.

Finally… Guys, your traps aren’t that big, I’m sorry… and Girls, believe it or not, this applies to you too.

Everyone knows the guy that errs into the dreaded D-bag shoulder position for the purpose of trying to look “huge”, or “yoked”.  The poor shoulder position and increased kyphosis (humping/rounding of the thoracic spine) it takes to achieve the appearance of larger traps is ultimately going to be more work and more dangerous than working toward a 300 pound clean and 500 pound deadlift.  The ladies don’t like it, and your chiropractor will cringe and have nightmares.  So please, if your pulled into this poor position, make it for reasons (you work at a desk 8 hours a day to make money to live and give to Payday Debt Helpers, you just happened to always do front based exercises, etc.) other than because you want to look “cool”.

Now then, for the ladies, I know you’re worried you’re going to get “those neck muscles” if you lift heavy.  Doesn’t the fact that there are guys out there compromising their morals (and more importantly, their posture!) for the sake of growing some big traps, convince you at all, that they might be difficult to grow?  Secondly, if you are worried about having the appearance of large traps, and you aren’t doing mobility work to open up your thoracic extension and pull those shoulder back, I’m going to have a hard time feeling sorry for you.  They aren’t large muscles and they won’t look large if you achieve better posture and positioning.  Make it a priority.

So let’s achieve some good quality shoulder position so that we can all function better, hit PRs without injury and even look better.  I will make another post shortly about what you can do to help reverse this pandemic, until then, feel free to ask myself, Annie, Lisa, Joseph, Alex or Rachael how to start the process.

 

Cheers!  And Happy lifting!

Dr. Adam Ball

Why God isn’t the Devil

Side note:  I’m going to refer to “god” throughout this article every so often.  It isn’t ideal, but I’d like everyone to consider this also as Allah, Buddha, or whatever else your religious beliefs name (or don’t name) your higher powers.  In no way do I plan to offend anyone, please don’t hesitate to let me know if it bothers you, and I will edit the post.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but I definitely believe in some sort of higher power.  The world just wouldn’t be as interesting place to me if there wasn’t some part of it that could not be explained.  In this same vein I wish that dragons, dinosaurs and all sorts of other fantastical things existed in our world, but I digress.  The reason for this post is that I know some people who feel uncomfortable around devout religious folks when god is brought up in conversation (though not as a participant in the conversation – There’s a special place for that).  While it might be outside your comfort zone that someone could believe very strongly in the presence of a higher power – you have to take into consideration the guiding principles of what the stories and words are about.

 

“Spending a day worshipping some fake higher power is silly!  You’re wasting your time!”

 

There really is no proof for or against the existence of a higher power.  So if we get past the personal beliefs part of this (rather negative) statement we can get to the guts of it.  Spending a day in worship doesn’t mean you’re kneeling all day long apologizing for living your life.  In his book “The Blue Zones”, Dan Buettner discusses Seventh Day Adventists as some of the longest lived people on the planet.  As one of the common themes among the folks he studied for their longevity, all those folks had stress relieving activities in which they regularly partook.   The 7th Day Adventists observe the Sabbath, a day of rest, usually on Saturday.  During this day, they take time to do things they enjoy, to socialize and most importantly, to do it all guilt free.  Have a big deadline for a project the day after Sabbath?  These people have the stuff done the day before, because they’re going to relax and enjoy themselves on that day.  Same goes for tests and many other things.  I’m sure occasionally slip ups are made (that’s our nature), but to have this habit/behaviour taught to you from birth is pretty cool.  How many of us can say we spend one full day per week without stress?  Not many.

 

“Following a whole bunch of rules takes away your free will!  I’m a peacock!  I need to fly!”

 

I’m not going to pretend to know the scriptures from any of the big books, but from what I’ve experienced from speaking with those who DO know them, most are based on the same life lessons our parents teach us as we grow up.  As Earl Hickey would say, “Do good things and good things will happen to you.” (Yes, I just quoted ‘My name is Earl’).  This statement sums up a lot of what’s written in the good books.  The rules are often simple – don’t kill folks, don’t steal stuff, don’t do most stuff that makes you feel bad, and if you do, own up to it.  How bad are those rules?  They’re pretty much common sense.  How much happier would everyone be if we could follow these “rules” most of the time?  Probably pretty happy.  The guidelines laid out in religious scripts (in my opinion) aren’t meant to be taken as concrete rules.  They’re meant to evolve and change while remaining the same – much like how a story being told from generation to generation will have small changes to it, to make it relatable and relevant to the new generations.

 

“They all want to push their religion on me, and I won’t stand for that!  Not cool!”

 

I can agree with this, but I can also see the other side of the coin.  Crossfitters and Paleo advocates often feel like they need to “save” people from globo gyms, or eating according to the USDA food pyramid, respectively.  What’s the underlying theme here?  Some people who are very excited about what they’ve learned and experienced want to share it with others.  This can be taken too far with everything (i.e. EVERYONE should believe in MY god! Or, is ______ paleo?  Are you sure???  I don’t know that Grok would have eaten it though!?!  WHAT DO I DO???!?)  New paleo converts don’t know this just as badly as Christian missionaries don’t when they’re trying to colonize some native populations.  What you/they know isn’t necessarily better, and it isn’t necessarily for everyone.  Instead of getting angry, how about we acknowledge their enthusiasm and say, “thanks for the info, I’ll think about it and get back to you if I need to know more”.  After all, they’re excited because they want to help – the excitement just gets misdirected sometimes.

 

“Why should I thank someone else for everything that I work hard for?  I earned it – not them!”

 

This stems from saying “grace” at the dinner table in most of my experiences.  I would venture to say that this action/ritual has existed for millions of years, not just since religion started.  Hunter-Gatherer cultures pay respect to the animals they kill in various ways.  I believe that saying thanks for the food your about to eat isn’t a bad practice or habit.  I don’t do it myself, but think about how much more mindful you’d be about what you’re eating if you stopped to thank god, the earth, the animals and plants themselves, whatever it is, before you ate them/it.  That’s some seriously mindful eating.

 

The ultimate point of this post is not to “ok” religion or convince anyone of anything.  The goal of this post is to nail home that the underlying concepts of religions and how we would act without them are largely the same.  Most belief systems strive for a common goal, and knowing that can make the difference between being open and accepting versus coming off as dismissive and close-minded.  So be open, ignore the names of the characters in the story and look for the morals and themes – you might be surprised how similar they all are.

Cheers!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

What’s the deal with fish oil?

Hey Folks!  I miss you all.  Sorry I haven’t been keeping in touch, HOWEVER, you’ll be happy to know that Rachael (many of you will know who I’m talking about, some may not, that’s ok… for now), and I have been working on a bit of a “program” or informational source, or answer… to all your questions about how to best help you achieve health via food, exercise and chiro (of course).  So while I should have been working on the info for this program a lot more, it has still managed to make a good excuse not to write blog posts.  Sorry for that.  I have about an hour before I start work at Crossfit Mississauga (come in for a workout & some chiro!), so I’m hoping to answer many common questions about fish oil today.

“WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH “OMEGA” OILS?”

Ok.  There are omega 3 (n3) and omega 6 (n6) fatty acids (there are also omega 9, but we’ll pretend I didn’t just write that for the remainder of this post as they just aren’t very sexy).  They are BOTH essential fats and we need them both.  These fats are polyunsaturated (meaning there are “kinks” in the molecule, while saturated fats have no kinks [extra sidebar:  I guess in this way you could say that saturated fat is not very “kinky”… ha…ha…ha…], and monounsaturated fats have one kink) which means they have slightly different properties than saturated fats.  For one, they’re liquid at room temperature.  This is a somewhat interesting part of them which some folks will say means they add more fluidity to the cell membrane.  Whether or not this is true is moot.  You can *test* how unsaturated your fish oil is by putting it in the freezer.  If it solidifies… well your “fish oil” is most likely mostly olive oil.  Ooops!

“AND?”

The standard north American diet is greatly skewed in the direction of n6 oils.  Generally the ratio considered “healthy” is 1.5:1 (n6:n3).  The typical diet around here with its’ processed foods chocked full of soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and other silly oils (as well as the silly oil make up in conventional meats – think about what they’re being fed!) puts us at an unhappy 10-25:1 ratio of n6 to n3 fats.

“SO WHY IS THAT BAD?”

It’s bad because n6 fats are the precursors to many inflammatory cytokines that help us to propagate our inflammatory lifestyles.  Omega 3 fats also lead to cytokines, but they are a bit more appropriate.  We want that nice 1.5:1 ratio because it is the best indication that your body has the necessary ingredients to make you healthy.  Imagine in the other situation (the bad one) you are making some mashed potatoes and you need butter, but your friend keeps handing you container after container of margarine (ew).  At some point you’re just going to give up looking for the butter and use the dumb margarine.

“SO WHAT ABOUT FISH OIL?”

Fish oil is (was) the new panacea of the year (fish oil is SO 2001, pfff).  We live in a constant unhappy ratio with way too much n6 fats helping us to make way too much inflammation.  The logical next step is, “so let’s fix the ratio!  Everyone shotgun some fish oil!”, which isn’t a great approach, but it’s definitely better than doing nothing.

“KIRKLAND BRAND IS CHEAP!!!  WHY SHOULD I USE THE STUFF YOU SELL?”

The more expensive fish oils contain more EPA and DHA (the longest and most beneficially healthy oils) per gram of “omega 3”.  This is a good thing.  A lot of the other “omega 3” oil in the cheaper supplements is oleic acid – a short chain n3 fat that is the main fat in olive oil (it’s also abundant in many other places – grass-fed beef, for one).  Unless you want to take 15-25 Costco brand fish oils every day, buy the more expensive stuff and just take less.  Onward!

“OK.  I HEAR SOME FOLKS SAYING FISH OIL IS BAD THOUGH!”

This is where stuff gets complicated.  The less good part of just crushing fish oil to “fix” your ratio is that you’re still crushing n6 oils.  This means you’re consuming a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids all together.  While our body likes some polyunsaturated fatty acids, more isn’t better.  These long, kinked fatty acids are very reactive with many things in our body (the intense heat, oxidative substances, etc.)  and oxidized fatty acids are not our favourite.  You know how if you leave the olive oil bottle open and out in the sun on a summer day?  That nasty smell (rancid oil) is what happens in your body (it’s kinda hot in there).

“WHAT ABOUT KRILL OIL?!?! IT HAS CAROTENOIDS!”

I’m sure it does.  Krill is generally at the bottom of the food chain in the ocean and a lot of other species rely on it.  Let’s not overwhelm those poor tiny little shrimps and mess with things too bad.  Also, you can’t punch a krill in the face – most fish are punch-sized.

“BUT I’M VEGAN AND EATING (and punching) ANIMALS IS WRONG!!!”

If you can’t not be a vegan, then acquire some omega 3 oil from algal sources.  It’s out there and it isn’t too expensive, and algae doesn’t have a cute face or complain when you kill it.

“NO IT’S OK I’VE GOT IT UNDER CONTROL – I EAT A CUP OF FLAX WITH EVERY MEAL!  HAHA!”

Good lord, I don’t want to know what your bowel movements are like.  Stop eating so much flax and get the algae version of your n3 supplement.  Flax is abundant in n3 fats – but they’re the short chain n3 fats that don’t have a great conversion to the longer chain n3 fats… And flax isn’t very tasty.

“NOW WHAT?”

Go out and get yourself a quality fish oil supplement.  Take somewhere between a gram and a half and 3 grams a day of EPA + DHA (not just n3).  Eat happy, grass-fed versions of all your favourite animals.  Most importantly, avoid n6 vegetable oils like it’s your job.  They aren’t very tasty (taste test a spoon of corn oil versus a spoon of coconut oil, or butter, or ghee, or bacon fat, or tallow – you get the point).  You’re omega 3 situation will be much better with this set up.  There are blood tests you can get to see where you’re at, but I prefer to just judge it by how you look feel and perform.  If you’ve been crushing fish oil for a long time at high doses and you’re noticing you bruise really easy, dial it back a bit.

 

 

I think that just about covers it!  Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any other questions!

 

Cheers!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

n=1… ALL DAY

Hey Folks!

n=1 (actually it was 2). 100% of the subjects in this study enjoyed riding a bike off a ramp into the lake. Statistical significance reached.

So I’m working on a more technical post about HOW everything breaks down with disordered eating involving insulin resistance, depression, IBS, infertility and so on.  Here’s hoping it becomes a “thing”.  But for now, I want to concentrate on some testimonials from other websites I frequent.

Some say that case studies and anecdotes are crap, and that they offer no value to the scientific world.  To some degree this is true – as you’ve probably heard at one point or another a strong testimonial for healthy whole grains, the soy diet, the raw vegan diet and a whole host of other diets destined for sadness and failure (and in many cases, outright disease).  I’m not saying these diets CAN’T work, just that they are not the optimal diet for humans to thrive on.  I’m not interested in what types of diets we can survive on, I’m interested in developing a diet that you and I will THRIVE on.

That being said, there have been plenty of folks who have reversed serious disease, lost lots of weight, and become much happier eating a paleo/primal/anti-inflammatory/ideal diet.  Here are some of those people:

 

http://robbwolf.com/2011/03/28/real-life-testimonials-jodis-paleo-diary/

http://robbwolf.com/2011/02/14/real-life-testimonial-controlling-type-1-diabetes-with-the-paleo-diet/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-rise-of-lazarus/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/i-decided-to-do-something-about-it/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/never-in-a-million-years-did-i-think/

 

And I’ll stop there but you get the idea that there are many people who have benefited from eating a paleo/primal diet.

 

“But n=1 is silly and means nothing!”

 

The only beef (mmmmm, beef) I have with this argument is that n=1 is you.  It’s you trying something out.  It’s you learning to play cricket for the first time.  It’s you trying brussel sprouts again after 10 years thinking you “hate” brussel sprouts (maybe you still do).  It’s you trying to lift heavy things instead of running long distances.  And it’s you seeing how you look, feel and perform (that sounds snappy – thanks Robb Wolf) doing all these things.

So be your own n=1 experiment.  Waiting to find out what the next randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind  study to prove that being active, being happy and eating well is good for you, is just plain silly.

Let’s all ruin science and get healthy at the same time!  Have a great weekend folks, and if you’re doing it, good luck on Crossfit Open Sectionals WOD#3!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

Musings: Vegan babies, the “Evil Trifecta” & How your genes affect your jeans

Hi Folks!

Spring is getting closer!

So I fully intended on having a well written, long and informative article to post this week but I just haven’t managed to get around to it.  So today will be a smattering of link posts and thoughts about the happenings as of late.

As I previously posted about, the Robb Wolf seminar was a great refresher about paleo nutrition and the optimal approach to the dietary management of chronic disease.  Since then I have had the chance of speaking with some friends and family about the seminar and about diet in general and some questions/comments arose, as they usually do.

  • Vegan babies are occasionally not well taken care of and they die, usually due to malnutrition – As far as I’m concerned this is unacceptable, and these parents are knowingly starving their babies to death.  This is tragic and unnecessary.  The parents should know better, but if they’re mistaken enough to think that humans can thrive on a vegan diet, they are more than likely mistaken about most things related to human physiology.  I think it would be interesting to find out if the parents who were responsible for these babies had to rethink their logic and understanding of nutrition, seeing that this type of diet not only does not create optimal health, but doesn’t even create an environment where a human baby can survive.

o   Links here (1 old, 1 new):  http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.35c2caa5efa0e183b7b38a2d0e2b7f40.71&show_article=1

o   http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/opinion/21planck.html?_r=1

  • Far less intense is the “evil trifecta” proposed by Robb Wolf (and also explained at length by Dr. Kurt Harris, Dr. Emily Deans, and I’m sure many others) of gluten, linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated, n-6 fatty acid found in many vegetable oils), and fructose.  After having mentioned this to people I get a mixture of responses.

o   For those familiar with paleo nutrition, the next question is usually from the person shooting for perfection, “so should I stop eating fruit?” or the person who is already annoyed with having given up grains, “so you’re telling me I can’t have fruit anymore either?”

o   The answer is no, you don’t have to give up fruit.  They’re fruit.  Reminds me of a post by the folks at Whole9 (http://www.urbangetsdiesel.com/2009/06/carrot-train-to-crazytown.html).  While the main sugar in fruit IS fructose, there really isn’t THAT much that you need to worry about fatty liver disease or insulin resistance.  That is unless you’re crushing a LOT of fruit.  This tends to be the tendency to those new to paleo/primal eating.  They’re still sweet, and they generally taste better than vegetables.  But if you’re replacing all your vegetables with fruit, it might eventually become a sticking point for weight-loss and well-being.  Just saying.

o   The other answer is, “but I love grains!  WHOLE grains must be good right?  I don’t eat white wonder bread, I eat the stuff with lots of fibre!”  Sorry folks, but no bread is the best kind of bread.  If you want to lose weight, manage your auto-immune disease or just feel better in every way, you need to give up grains.  Am I telling you that you can NEVER have grains again?  No.  Try giving them up for 30 days, and then have some occasionally.  The bloated, gassy, headachy, hangover-y feeling you get (and to which degree you get it) will determine if enjoying it is worth it.  I’ll be honest, for me, sometimes it is.

o   Links worth checking out:

§  http://crossfitflood.typepad.com/nutrition/2009/03/damn-dirty-grains.html

§  http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/09/19/paleo-diet-solution/

o   Interesting to note is that no one really complains about the vegetable oil.  That could be because it all tastes terrible and that all our favourites that we gave up are SO much more delicious (butter, ghee, coconut oil, pork fat, beef fat, etc.)

  • Finally, I just want to speak about genetics.  Your genetics is your bodies’ recipe for health.  When myself and other speak about us “all having the same genes”, what we AREN’T saying (although I should only speak for myself here) is that we all have identical genes (as in identical twins, although even then there are some differences).  What I am saying, is that we all have the gene to create the cornea in our eye, the gene to up-regulate insulin receptors on our cells, the genes to induce the many steps to apoptosis to prevent cancer.  We all have these.  But what do we have that affects these genes?  Everything we eat, every way we move and everything we think.  These inputs are the reason our body activates and expresses genes and inhibits others.
  • In health care, we’re all around this paradigm without ever (almost) delving into it.  Bruce Lipton, James Chestnut and many others have figured this out.  It gives us a solid foundation to create questions and theories from.  It gives us a leg to stand on when we ask, “Why?”  My question to the general public and to the many areas of healthcare is, “why have we stopped asking why?”  It’s killing us!
  • This new report is about the differences we have between us.  Our epigenetics are responsible for the many differences in disease states and susceptibility to disease states and general adaptations to lifestyle inputs.  This person can eat whatever they want and not put on a lot of fat, this person cannot.  If studies from the agouti mouse tell us anything, it’s that the lifestyle of past generations DOES matter.  But what we don’t seem to make the connection to, is that it doesn’t mean that living in healthy ways still matters, and that it’s reversible!

o   Let’s say your grandma had type-2 diabetes, and your mom has type-2 diabetes, are you silly to think you might be “predisposed” to type-2 diabetes?  Not at all!  But can you make the connection that if you are diligent and live healthy and do not get type-2 diabetes, and your daughter does the same and also doesn’t get it, that that would “predispose” her daughter to NOT acquire type-2 diabetes?  Ahhhh, perfect.  Healthy living is healthy living.  There are degrees of health within your genetics ability to express it (whether you have predispositions or not).

o   Here is the link to the news article:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110323104737.htm

o   The other idea is that the input you create matters and affects the genes that are expressed.  This is easily demonstrated by putting someone suffering from glioma (a type of brain cancer) on a ketogenic diet.  Gene expression changes.  Interesting right?  It’s just proof that the way we eat, move and think matters.

o   Here’s the link to the journal article:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949862/?tool=pubmed

So that’s all I have to say right now.  I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend, and if you’re competing in the Crossfit games open sectional, good luck & have fun!

Cheers!

Dr. Adam Ball

Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution Seminar

This past weekend I attended the Paleo Solution seminar put on by Robb Wolf.  It was well organized, timed and executed.  I will preface this “review” with the fact that I really dig everything Robb is doing with regards to the paleo “movement”.  Much like myself, Robb just wants to help people achieve and experience health.  He isn’t trying to accomplish it by making a magical ratio that can be achieved by eating molecularly-baked goods, by selling very well made, and delicious (but expensive) protein powder or by withholding information that is only available for purchase.  If you’ve been listening to the podcast and reading what Robb puts out on his website, then you’ve probably heard almost everything that is in the seminar at one point or another.  The seminar puts it all together into one presentation, which is difficult to do (otherwise others would be doing it).  Thanks Robb (and Nikki).

The Pro’s:

  • Robb’s example (himself) of how a set of beliefs can drive you into disease was a great start point for the seminar – if we are not changing people’s belief systems about food, then we will not be changing what people want to eat and therefore what people are eating.
  • While the seminar was essentially 7 hours of straight lecture with an hour long lunch break, the flow was great, and the small “breaks” for questions were enough of a mental de-load before continuing with the material
  • I’m glad there weren’t “pee breaks” or food breaks (aside from lunch and question periods) as there is usually a lot of time lost to trying to reign folks back into the lecture room, which happens at just about every other seminar I’ve been to
  • The basic science review was in depth enough for the sciencey folks and I believe simple enough for those new to some of the concepts (the intestinal mucosa, immune cells and their response, etc.)
  • Robb presents a compelling argument as to why grains, legumes and pseudo-grains are sub-optimal foods and how they contribute to chronic disease
  • Explaining how we can use the study of paleolithic peoples and their diet and lifestyle to ask the right questions was well explained and great examples are presented

o   Going from anthropological observations to clinical observations to clinical testing to mechanistic theory to mechanistic validation help to explain how to ask the right questions and a great path to create progress

  • Digestion, Gut permeability, auto-immunity, metabolic derangement, lifestyle and implementation were all touched upon and well explained
  • Robb took the time to provide case studies/anecdotes about people who have benefitted from different approaches to improving ones diet, but didn’t rely on it for his explanations and theories.
  • References were provided and explored – ideas and theories had good scientific backing
  • It all makes sense – I wasn’t left with “yeah, but…”

 

The Con’s:

  • It was only one day – Seriously this could be two or more days if we really wanted to geek out with the science/biochemistry involved with everything

o   It would be sweet to see a Robb Wolf, Mat Lalonde and Dr. Cordain 3 day seminar at some point – maybe even aimed at health care providers/those involved with educating clients/patients versus those interested in the information personally?

  • A little more time could be spent on the acute sepsis/injury effect on insulin resistance mechanisms and their explanation – it may be a combination of these concepts being towards the end of the day (being a little mentally fried) and that I think Robb may have been a little speedier with getting through this area of the seminar
  • Further effects of Palmitic acid could be explored (a la the explanation by Mat Lalonde in the recent podcast re: fasting/eating very low carb versus eating so many carbs that palmitic acid is abundant)
  • It could be nice to stay together for a lunch designed by Robb at the venue of the seminar – although I know this would require more planning and probably a more expensive price-tag for the seminar

All together it was one of the better seminars I’ve been to in regard to content, flow and guiding principles.  It drives home the fact that the answers we find are largely determined by the questions we ask.  And if we ask questions without some sort of base, guiding principles, we end up with the jumbling of answers that is the current state of health and nutritional science.

Thanks again, Robb.  Cheers Everyone!

Robb was nice enough to pose for a photo with me after the seminar

Dr. Adam Ball

Why I care about more than your spine, Part 2

Alternate Title: Poor posture is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

 

Back from part 1, here we go again.

With all that having been said – being neurotic about who gives you advice on your health, and what you end up doing doesn’t make me any more money than I do seeing you as a chiropractic patient.  So how am I going to make any money?  Well, getting regular chiropractic care is important.  Your spine needs to be able to move in a full, happy and unimpeded range of motion for your body to express its’ optimal level of health.  If you’re eating well, exercising intelligently and de-stressing, the results we see are going to be much better – which means that hopefully you’ll want your friends and family to go to someone that cares about them as much as I care about you. It’s a lot more work, but it allows me to make a living while still being able to sleep at night.

Working at a Crossfit gym, the folks I see generally have a great grasp of the fitness/exercise side of things and a good idea of what they’re supposed to eat.  What I do see a lot of, is shoulder pain, elbow pain, low back pain and mid back stiffness (usually the mid back isn’t painful unless mobilized gently).  These are all an effect of postural adaptations that are no bueno.  These postural adaptations lead to motion restrictions (limited range of motion), muscular imbalances, injuries and more work for you.  You don’t need or want this type of thing affecting your life and performance.

As an example, consider what’s required to take care of a car.  If you run out of oil, you can’t just fill up your gas tank with premium gas and hope for the best, you need to have oil, and brake fluid, good tires, etc. for the car to operate at its’ best.  In regards to range of motion (afforded to you via chiropractic), your Ferrari can only go fast if you can push the gas pedal down all the way.  If there were a brick underneath that gas pedal, it’s going to affect how fast that car can go.  You can eat a perfect diet, exercise well and live a low stress lifestyle, but you still aren’t as healthy as you COULD be if you were doing all those things AND seeing a chiropractor.

Range of motion, optimal positioning and good posture all are interconnected endeavours.  You can muscle through crap posture to achieve full range of motion, but it won’t get you to the level of fitness you want, and you’re wasting WAY too much energy doing it.  If you follow the elite crossfit athletes (or even if you just know who they are/what they look like) you might notice something they all have in common – great posture, efficiency of movement and effortless full range of motion.

Forcing your way through impeded range of motion (folding in half with a crap shoulder position makes overhead squats hard eh?) is not the intelligent way to do things.  Stretching the appropriate areas, seeing a great athletic therapist, and getting adjusted regularly will help you achieve better positioning – making the movements more efficient, less work, and less likely to cause injury.  You’ve already made the choice to exercise intelligently and (hopefully) to eat well.  Make these choices as well.

Making good choices is the bedrock of great health and is the ultimate sign that you’ve made sustainable change.  What you CAN’T do, however, is cover up bad choices with good ones.  The late Mitch Hedberg once said,

 

“That would be cool if you could eat a good food with a bad food and the good food would cover for the bad food when it got to your stomach. Like you could eat a carrot with an onion ring and they would travel down to your stomach, then they would get there, and the carrot would say, “It’s cool, he’s with me.””

 

It would be nice if things worked that way, but they don’t.  You can’t workout really hard for a month and a half, and then spend the rest of the year sitting on your butt.  You can’t workout at the gym, but eat crappy food and be stressed out all the time and not sleep and expect to see results.  You can’t see a chiropractor, but never move your body and expect results.  We (chiropractors, athletic therapists, and other manual therapy options) give you access to a full range of motion, but we don’t provide the movement to those joints.  You do.  Address your posture, get adjusted regularly and stretch your business.  Make good choices – your body will thank you.

Cheers,

Dr. Adam Ball