Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Can you Squat? - that may be worth fixing - part 1

Yesterday we looked at how one can start "working out" simply by putting in some quality cycles on breathing, with particular attention to breathing from the belly rathe than the chest, breathing through the nose, not the mouth, and getting exhalations from time to time to be double the time for inhalation - working up to breathing out for 50-60 seconds.

you basic squat
Today the question is: how's your squat? What i mean by squat is the "squat position" just sitting comfortably in with one's feet on the floor and one's butt down to the ground. Is it possible to squat down like this without falling back on le butt?

This position is well known globally as how quite a lot of the population supposedly sits - for just about anything requiring sitting. The position is lauded as better than a chair because of the way it affects nerves and in particular our guts so they can do what they're designed to do without be squished up by us hunching up in a chair.

Indeed, the squat has been given pride of place in various movement systems. Paul Chek lists is as one of the 6 "primal patterns." Gray Cook uses the overhead squat as the first movement and greatest validation of progress in the functional movement screen. 

The squat has also been pretty reified in "real gyms" as part of the powerlifting and strength scene and as a beautiful all-round strength move as illustrated here in Mark Rippetoe's excellent Starting Strength.

Intriguingly an awful lot of the men i work with in particular have a hard time with the squat, with getting their butt down and staying stable.

There can be many many things going on to make the humble squat a challenge. And there are lots of ways to help make it easier to access.

The main question in this wee post is - how's your squat right now?

Here's another quick question: if you're someone who's having a hard time getting down into the above illustrated squat position you might want to try this simple check: if you can grab onto a doorway or a banister or post - or something solid - can you let yourself down to the ground while hanging on?

Why not check this out today and post some comments below about what's hard or easy in your own squat and - and tomorrow when i'm off this 10 hour flight - we'll get back together again about how to help make this core super fine movment part of a gift to yourself for this holiday season.


Part 2: reduce threat; improve movement in the squat  is here


Monday, November 29, 2010

Are you breathing comfortably? fast tip for immediate performance improvement

This post is about a fast simple cheap way to improve health and well being pretty much, yup, right this minute. Literally. Simply by tuning what we have to do and are doing right now. Yup it's breathing, every breath we take, where amazingly, less can be more, especially the right less. So when you hear your pals say they don't have time to workout - why not offer them these few tips? They will actually be improving a key marker in health and for that matter athletic performance.

What this post proposes is a quick series of exercises that we can do any time of day, pretty much anywhere. Once or twice a day, no more than a few minutes a go (and that's remarkably few breaths) research/practice shows, such deliberate breathing is a fabulous stress buster, may help reduce asthma symptoms, balance blood pressure, enhance sleep, digestion, energy - all this before. By deliberate breathing we mean we pay attention to it.

So let's take a look.

How's your breathing right now? 
Fast check - when you inhale right now, is your chest moving our your belly? Here's another fast check: is your mouth ever partially opened or closed? This next one needs a timing device - how many in and out breath sets do you have in a minute when sitting still?

Now, why should you care about any of these questions?

Quick facts: how we breath has a tremendous effect, especially, on whether the body thinks we're stressed or not. We literally perform better when we breath better. This isn't hard to imagine: if we can't breath we die; if we have strange breathing - like hyperventilating (too much breathing) that's a pretty good way to say that our system is in distress, and is going to be concerned about survival rather than performance.

Better breathing - fewer, slower, deeper - helps redress not only hormonal levels that signal stress (or not) that get triggered by stress breathing (hyperventilating again) but also manages our pH balance which can also signal stress and is hugely important for cuing up the state of the body - too acidic; too alkaline. Indeed, any of us who have gotten nauseous when overdoing exercise are experiencing the effects of imbalanced pH levels.

Without going into the gnarly bits of what's going on, here's a few things we can do at any point in the day that will help us feel better, sleep better, digest better - well almost anything better.

If we're answering yes to any combination of chest moving, open mouth or greater than 20 sets a minute, we're ready for some practice.

A Low Tech Breathing Practice Progression
Moving Chest Breathing to Belly breathing: goal - regular breathing from the belly
 if you breath up in the chest, consciously think about breathing from the belly instead - simple practice - do it for five breaths, and then go back to your life. Any time you think about your breathing, just check: chest or belly? do a few belly breaths. As that become more frequently part of personal awareness, the more we'll be belly breathing

Moving Mouth Breathing to Nasal Breathing 
Nasal breathing is just breathing in and out through one's nose.  Sounds simple, but when combining nasal breathing with belly breathing it's is a powerful technique to help with stress, hyperventilation, and respiratory distress

So as in the last exercise, getting to nasal breathing from mouth breathing is to do the work when you think about it: if you become aware of breathing through your mouth, practice a few breaths with a very deliberate focus "i'm breathing in through my nose i'm breathing out through my nose"

Nasal breathing helps keep our co2/o2 levels balanced, and physically using the nose as designed for breathing means that we're filtering particulates out of the air that ain't going into us, the air also gets warmed which is less stressful for us to for performance.

Nasal Breathing ++ (pursed lips exhalation)
When the top two techniques feel more comfortable, try this on a daily basis and especially when feeling stressed. It's this: inhale normally, pause before exhalation, and then see how long you can breath out through pursed lips. A healthy person will get to 50-60secs of pursed lips exhalation.

Now here's a cool thing: if you give yourself five minutes to focus on just this task, you will likely find that your exhalations go up significantly each exhalation.

This latter practice in particular is a big big win: it will help reset the CO2 balance in the body. Doing this reduced breathing also is very relaxing and helps reset our hormonal/stress balance.

Noting the Difference
So it's very cool to put breathing awareness into our daily practice and watch how it affects sense of wellbeing in terms of sleep, rest, energy, digestion.  One of the practices colleagues and i have looked at it NOT to practice anything for a week and note how we feel about sleep, digestion, energy, and then give this practice a go for two weeks and track the difference - it's nice to see something's really having an effect.

It's Cheap It's Easy It has a Fast Effect.
One of the best things about breathing is that we have to do it all the time anyway, so it's awesome that doing so little in terms of deliberate practice (pay attention to how we breath a couple times a day and practice particular types of breathing a few minutes twice a day), we get such a big bang for the buck.

Invitation: how's deliberate breathing going?
Please give this a go, and as you do, please come back here and post your experiences over the coming weeks.

Related Posts

Sunday, November 28, 2010

unhealthy interest addenda: it's not about the gold standard; it's first about interest

Yesterday i wrote up a wee post about what i'd learned about the creation of money as always being the creation of debt  in our monetary system. This fact isn't something promoted when we visit the Bank of England and go heft the gold bar (made in germany) that's on display. That fact is that money in our current international monetary system is always already debt. That the creation of a dollar is at first the creation of a debt. As such, the goal of ever paying off debt with money that is always debt first, is impossible.

In the wee bit of notes i've seen about this post, several folks have argued our problems all come from being off the gold standard. If we could only create as much money as we have some resource to back it, then money would be limited to actual SOMETHING, right? and so we couldn't spiral into unending debt, right?

Let's look at that.

it's not about the Gold Standard - it's about interest (of debt)
A few things seem to be missing in this argument - about the race that will always be on to keep plundering the earth of more gold; that value can be in other things that have real worth (unlike gold that's just shiny) - such as infrastructure from education to roads; that a fractional reserve system is questionable and that pulling the plug on interest that can just be used to create more interest rather than spent (or just killing interest) could pretty much solve this mess.

actual goods growth (green) cannot keep up with the exponential curve of debt (red)
To review a couple of these points, in a fractional reserve system even with gold, something can still been made out of nothing. Fractional reserve: i am allowed to make something of nothing; as long as i have One Bit in reserve, i can ACT as if i have Ten Bits, let's say (see money marketing mechanics pdf, in resources, below).

Likewise, i'm making loans at interest on this fictional money, too. The debt of interest accrues against that fictional gold, too, and so debt, like cancer, grows much much faster than the healthy organism and will inevitably consume it. See the graph above. The curve of debt is taking an exponential hike against the more linear (and limited) growth of people and goods.

It hasn't always been this way; it doesn't have to be this way. Check out tally sticks in Henry I's England and Greenbacks in Lincoln's America. See The Secret of Oz (or its 14 year precursor, the masters of money) as putting the boots to the so called value of the myth of the Gold Standard; it will make you ill. The benefit of the Gold Standard, when the gold is held by the private banks, is no benefit or change. It's all still debt and fractional reserve banking and private banks deciding to contract the money supply. So please, time to recheck the illusion that it's all because we went off gold that we have these problems. Gold backing historically has been the root control of central banks in the world's economy, and especially in the US.

[W]e shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.
William Jennings Bryan on July 9, 1896, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago

Exponentially Impossible - that's just the inescapable math.
Fundamentally it seems to me that it really really doesn't matter whether a standard is backed by gold or not, if the most fundamental concept, regardless of standard, is that to create a dollar, that dollar is toujour deja, always already, attached to interest,  that dollar + something - that is, it's always attached to debt, and that the interest of that debt does not have to be 100% recycled.

On a system-wide level, it becomes impossible - as we see all around us - to pay off the debt because, in this system, the payment of one debt OF NECESSITY creates MORE DEBT.  Because loans are always attached to interest with a goal of creating never ending growth of interest which means more debt, and all the interest (that is 100% of it) does not circulate back into the money supply. It's not recyled; it's ponzi'd. Which gets back to money in our monetary system as debt.

In the monetary system as a whole, of which we are a part, it's impossible with the current laws around interest and its use for 100% of the debt ever to be paid. Look at what's happening with Europe right now for instance, exemplified in this video's question "and where does the money come to pay off that debt?" "exactly; next question..." "but what's the answer?" "you're wasting valuable time"

Alas, the bailout - the creation of more debt as some perverse kind of rescue - of COURSE sees banks becoming wealthy again, at the cost of everyone else because it's just more of the same, except accelerated. Loans when they can only ever be repaid as loans are perhaps the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting a different result. And the economic divides get wider and the process accelerates.

As said, this process can start to get a little intrigued - but it doesn't need to be. We just have to start with the monetary system creates money as money + interest. Where's the money coming from to pay off that interest? It's a deliberately exponentially viscous spiral. If you want to go down the more intrigued path, here's a route via a very interesting discussion by Paul Grignon that still comes out to the same conclusion.  Here's a lovely 7min animation if you prefer that to text. Really really worth reading/watching.

Once we know that fundamentally money = debt, there's no surprise - there's no question. What we see now of nations always responding to debt, and using debt as an excuse for everything, what is happening now is EXACTLY, PREDICTABLY what's going to happen. That we're surprised is the horrible sign of our own well fostered ignorance, and resistance to the desire that anyone could be doing this.

"It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." ~Henry Ford

No Spoon. The crime is that we have been educated to think money has to be this way. But it has not always been this way. It does not have to be this way. There is no frickin' spoon, dam it.

Kill interest; kill off any of the problems we see right now. Well ok, either get rid of interest or have very different rules governing how interest can be used (eg, it must be spent in its entirety), and problems iron out. No wonder all major religions of the world said usury was a sin.

The idea of monetary reform is not crazy nut nut conspiracy based. Take a look at the section about monetary reform that talks about "govn't issued debt free money"(just scroll down the page). Quite sensible people talk about it. And if we were more sensible more of us would be demanding politicians to stop dicking around with debt and telling us to tighten our belts, and would be worrying about fundamental causes. Sheesh, since they're sadly around anyway, here's something a Monarch or Pope who doesn't have to worry about being elected could actually do something about meaningfully.  Never mind the dam architecture Charles. Get one with Money as Debt.

Legal Tender. The most amazing heist that the private banks of the world have pulled off is to have govn'ts sign up to allowing banks to say "we'll handle the money supply" and that when a govn't needs money, they get it as  A LOAN with INTEREST from a BANK, a private corporation.

One might argue (and others have) that US independence was to get away from just such monetary policy rooted in England/Europe. Or for that matter, in the forced return in the UK to - Guess what? - the Gold Standard (see the currency act of 1763). So the US went to WAR to get away from this control. That break lasted only till 1913. Who's doomed to repeat history?

(money as debt II: the discussion of the gold standard - about 4mins in)

Cui Bono? 
We like to make things more complicated than they are or actually better than they are (as this argument against the claims of Money as Debt II shows) because we have a hard time accepting that a) something could be this simple and b) this corrupt and yet c) this legal. That we have empowered govn'ts to indenture us to banks in an impossible cycle doomed to collapse and suffering. This isn't a conspiracy; it's just the law.

When, please, are the aliens coming?

Thanks to the amazing work featured here by Paul Grignon off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada.

Addenda to the addenda
There are historical precedents for alternatives. I'd encourage you to watch the Secret of Oz, especially the last 45 mins if you're interested in previous and even recent precedents. It's not more debt (duh?). It's community banks, savings banks, state banks with debt-free money being created and spent into circulation for the "common wealth."

The story of Iceland's pre-privatised banking prosperity and catastrophe of what happened when it privatised away from savings banks is amazing. Go Iceland in recovering your banking.  The US has done it six times historically. Do it again.

Some monetary reform related resources

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unhealthy Interest: why you, me, your kids are likely condemned to indentured servitude to debt

This blog is about well being and quality of life. It's focused mainly on the four things i've learned are important for health: nutrition, fitness, recovery and social interaction. What i've missed is the implicit assumption that one can afford these assets, and that also one will have  afforded the intellectual tools to seek them out and operationalise them. Right now, that access is predicated on a monetary system.  And right now, it seems that monetary system is simply designed to keep everyone indebted to money - and of course those who control the money.

Gosh that sounds conspiracy nut nut,  doesn't it? I would have thought so, too. Until i saw this elegant explanation of how money is not about what most of us think it is - value - but about debt.  And that's really what i'd like to share: what a surprise this is. Did you know this? What shall we do with this knowledge? Here's part 1. The other parts are on youtube, too. It's called Money as Debt (canadian, too, way to go)

(full Money As Debt video)

Money as Debt. This elegant vid clearly demonstrates the simple facts of our monetary system as, well folks, fundamentally corrupt. Money is created by banks out of nothing. That is the first key point. The second is that in our system, when money is created out of nothing it is created as a loan, as a debt. The third thing is that that debt is not just for the money itself but ALWAYS in our system as debt + interest. From where does the money - can the money - ever come to pay off the interest? In this system, it takes debt to pay off debt which creates more debt. IT's impossible to get ahead - and that's what we're seeing isn't it?

If we model this algorithm of P=P+1 we get an impossible exponential curve, guaranteed to crash because the curve of P =P+1 is an abstraction based on an infinite supply of numbers - and it's applied to a system of finite resources. That's you, me, our kids and the planet.

Cui Bono? Cicero asked centuries ago, cui bono? in whose interest is it for a situation to be what it is? This is where some folks say "conspiracy nut nut" if one answers "the banks and corporations" - that sounds so vague and monstrous.

Then we see something like the third act of Zeitgeist from 2007 (i'd suggest watching Money as Debt and even Money as Debt II first) and we get names, policies and laws rather vagueries like "banks." Example: woodrow wilson in 1913, after generations of opposition to a central bank and a cb controlling the money supply, while most in the congress were away on holiday, rushed through the federal reserve act (which despite folk lore to the contrary, he never did regret creating). The documented role of banks in civil conflict is a bit staggering, too. But i digress.

Though, today, at least around here where Ireland is only the latest casualty in melt down and the british govn't is cutting resources and services as if it actually needs to do so as if there actually will be no tomorrow, and yet the rescued banks are still paying out awesome bonuses, maybe it feels less like a conspiracy.

Anyway this post is really only to ask "did you know this about money? that it's entirely fake? that it's about debt? and that as such it is always only going to cause exactly the debt we see governments trying to get out of - supposedly?"  It would seem - and i could be wrong - that the ONLY way to get out of such a catastrophic collapse based on this model is to change the model. Fundamentally.

One of the things about Star Trek is that by the 23rd century it seems that we've arrived in a cashless economy that's wonderful - no disease, no biggotry; lots of technology. Rather like the Venus Project featured in zeitgeist the adendum. I wonder if there's any way to get to that place without hitting the crash and social catastrophe inevitable in the monetary system? Especially when combined with the post peak-oil resource dependencies described by Michael Ruppert in Collapse? In the UK right now, you can see the whole vid on the BBC 5 iplayer. License fees at work.

What all these strategies come down to is that effectively to get away from financial greed is to get rid of interest. Usery. Hard to imagine, but maybe not impossible? I don't think it's socialism or communism because that's got a monetary system too that uses interest. The folks who did Money as Debt have an intesesting idea for a Digital Coin that doesn't need banks. Gotta think about this further. The retrun of the early 90's interest in anonymous, digital cash. Wouldn't that be something. No interst, and anonymous cash. It may be a step towards getting rid of needing money at all. Sounds ideal. 

an exponential growth curve of an abstraction
I'm just riffing now, and there's are many "ya buts" i'm sure. So i'll leave it at - knowing this about the monetary system - that it is indentured servitude to banks since money is alway money = debt - is quality of life only ever at best going to be a compromise of qualities? is that what we want? And once we know this to be so - that P =the imposible P+I where I can never be erased, then how do we see the doom and gloom (lies) of "we're all in this together; we mush tighten our belts to pay down our debt" - when debt is always already A PRIORI a perpetual effect of this system?

The mind reels at the scale and timmerity of this bilk, does it not? Others perpetrate pyramid schemes, what happens to them? Only the govn't backed corps i guess have the monopoly on ponzi'ing with impunity? well dear readers, i don't know whether to cry or throw forks, but surely people of good will, who are also buff, have the wherewithall to do something about it? And i don't mean going back t the gold standard.

I leave that for another post, but let's have a wee think, shall we? Thanks for reading.

It's Not about Going back to Gold.

Next Installment: b2d Addenda on the Gold Standard and why going back to gold really won't do anything as long as there's money as debt.

Likewise, some may argue that interest isn't always evil - in an ideal world, where all interest is recirculated back into the populace for spending, maybe. But that means 100% recirculated, not leveraged for more profit. And 100% recycling of interest doesn't happen. Quite the opposite. That's in the next part as well. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

What's a "Movement Assessment" Why do we need one, and how does it help, RIGHT NOW?

What is a movement assessment? Cut to the chase, a movement assessment looks at how one moves. Why? if one's movement is hinky with anything from a slightly hiked shoulder to an over-prontating foot, to someone saying it hurts when they sit for awhile or their joints hurt, to someone else constantly hitting their golf balls to the left, or they're stuck at a plateau in a lift, there's something going on with one's movement that's not right and that IS having performance consequences, right this second. Right.This.Second.That performance hit may manifest as pain as plateau as poor target acquisition, but it's happening NOW.  It could also change dramatically, just as quickly. Right now.

Why so fast an effect? the nervous system reacts that fast to shut down performance where a threat is perceived. Inflammation in the shoulder: restrict movement; vision problem - yes, threat - slow down movement.

Neurons are very tiny: it doesn't take a huge BOO! of surprise to trigger an inner threat response and appropriate system power withdrawl.  Often that threat is so subtle we don't initially perceive it. But our nervous system does - have you seen this demo of the arthrokinetic reflex to underline this point?

By the time we do see something - pain, performance, plateau, etc - the issue may be bigger, but there will still be an immediate response to threat reduction.

The role of a movement assessment is that by looking at one's movement and one's responses to movement work, we begin to find a path to address what's happening that is having whatever the performance cost is - whether that cost is pain or plateau or whatever - and from there we develop active strategies  to get it sorted.

A movement assessment uses a suite of tools to consider movement, including the visual, vestibular and proprioceptive systems. It starts with the understanding that the nervous system drives everything; connects everything, so working with the nervous system as directly as possible is a fast path to immediately testable results. Right. This. Second. Movement is a Fast Connector to immediate change.

The role of a movement specialist in this process is to look at and listen to what a person's movement may be saying about their performance. It lets the specialist begin a dialogue with one's performance to get that performance back. If a hip is not moving well, for instance, it might be that working with one's ankles and shoulders will help; it may be that checking one's balance or vision will help give back that range of motion to the hip; it may be moving out of a dark gym and into a better lit area that makes the difference. We see the effect immediately in movement.

People who Would Benefit from Movement Assessments: all of us.
I've seen folks who move very well - Dennis Frisch whom i interviewed a little while ago about bodyweight work has beautiful form. But alas none of us are perfect. But hurrah, the more perfect the movement, often the better everything else. Movement is Plastic! we can improve it - constantly. 

Scenarios: as identified above, anyone who says "i get sore when i try this" or "i can't break past this weight for this lift" or "i get headaches sitting at the computer" or "my vision is getting worse" or "i'm having a hard time sleeping" - no exaggeration - a movement assessment can only help.

Everyone is Individual. The intriguing thing is that while we all have a lot in common in terms of our physiology, the combinations of differences in our experience mean that what may be causing me the exact same pain in my shoulder may be utterly different from what's causing yours. A movement assessment is dynamic. By assessing and reassessing throughout the movement assessment, we tune in what's working; we chuck what's not. Immediately. It's also an active process - you are doing the movments, the work - which means the tools you get in an assessment you take home with you for your practice, benefit and continued self-assessment.

Caveat: let's assume that anyone reading this who's thinking of an assessment has seen their medical professional and been cleared to rehab or to train. Going from there, let's look in more detail at the what and why of an assessment.

The next bits here go over some of the things that happen in an assessment and why, then looks a bit at the rationale for the approach. 

Assessment Overview
The name movement assessment - at least how i'm talking about it - is very much short hand for a suite of evaluations that a movement specialist would carry out sitting down with you. And indeed, since there are good folks and better folks in any profession, this check list may help you determine if the person you're thinking of working with you is indeed right for you.

Ok, so what would a movement assessment include?
Client History. First things first is usually doing a written history and an interview about your history. This preliminary work can be super detailed or more concise depending on your goals with that coach/specialist.  For instance, if you're working on nutrition and fitness, and the movement assessment is part of a baseline view of you, that history may include a food log and a lot of info about eating practices; if you're going in because you have this pain in your knee, well the food part may be initially far more brief. In each case, injury history, medical conditions, current supplements etc etc are going to be part of the intake.

Movement. At the heart of something called a movement assessment would be, you would think, an assessment of one's movement. Absolutely. The cool thing is, movement is informed by a lot of stuff, from the stresses we're experiencing  to the cast on the foot that may be currently limiting us.

one of these  placed inside the mouth along the jaw
changes a person's gait
Bite Busting Effect on Movement. Intriguingly, research a colleague pointed out to me shows that something as simple as one of those rolled up cotton sticks dentists use, when put on the side of one's mouth actually changes one's gait. That simple can have that knock on an effect. So as i've echoed here many times, the site of pain is not the source of pain. Nor is the site of a seeming performance break necessarily the source of that performance obstacle.

VPP. Because of this near anything can cause anything issue, a real movement assessment is going to have to be able to consider those factors that impact our movement. Fundamentally, these are the somato-sensory system or the visual vestibular proprioceptive hierarchy (VPP for short). I've written a bit about the VPP over here, by way of overview.

General before Specific So a movement assessment will look at how you move naturally.
It may also look at how you move specifically in whatever movement it is that seems to be causing an issue or is a movement you want to improve. It will look at these gross movements before getting into singular detail. So before looking at your knee, a specialist may look at you walk. Before looking at your grip of your golf club, they may look at your whole swing, from walking up to the tea to following through.

photo: Butch Rovan, www.soundidea.org
A movement assessment is actually a series of iterations. The specialist will do a baseline assessment, offer usually a movement drill for the person to try, immediately reassess the effect of the drill, and refine/reiterate the process of assessing, trying, reassessing.

Pending the person's response to these drills, the assessor may consider other components of the VPP and do specific visual and vestibular assessments to see how these components may be playing a part in the movement response, and will add these as appropriate into the drill mix.

Two big pluses to this approach:
  • the person knows right away if what's happening is making a performative difference
  • the person has a set of actions they can take with them to keep rep'ing in the improvements 
This last point is a biggie, too: the person has a set of actions/drills they can keep doing for themselves after the session to keep improving.  The session dials in what works for the person so they can keep going with it, actively. They own their improvements.

    It sounds really simple this approach, doesn't it? Look at one's movement; do some drills to clean up that movement, test if what you've just tried has had an effect; keep tuning in what you're doing to get the best possible response. And in truth, it is a very elegant approach. But the thing about elegance is that it makes something amazingly rich and complex accessible, performable, or at least perceivable.

    E=mc2 is elegant. But in that simple expression one heck of a wallop is packed to prove it. That said, you may be interested in a bit of what informs this elegant approach of move, test, try, reassess move again approach to performance optimisation.

    The Difference: Theory And Practice Informing the Approach
    Higher Order Bits A movement performance based approach takes as given that the nervous system is the governing system of the body and therefore working with the nervous system will offer the fastest (proprioception operates at oh about 300mph) and biggest bang for the buck. Focusing on the VPP is one way to work with the nervous system.

    This speed of the nervous system is also why we can see immediate effects of what we're doing. Does this drill test better or not? If not, rethink, retune, redo, reassess.

    If we're not testing, we're guessing.

    Example "I have tight hamstrings"
    Because the assessment approach respects the neural hierarchy it's looking at what are the highest order issues in that system that may be causing this effect. The classic example here is tight hamstrings.

    One can wale away at stretching their hamstrings to "loosen them up" so they can bend deeper for whatever their sport movement is, but a few questions come up. First, is "stretching" if one's goal is to lift a heavy weight - say deadlifting - a great idea? Actually, no. Research again shows that stretching - getting the muscles not to fire up and shorten up as strongly and as quickly as they can - is really detrimental for lifting. So the therapy is not even a good match for the practice.

    Second, the higher order question a movment performance specialist will ask is WHY are these hamstrings so tight in the first place? Is there a higher order issue going on? What if it's the person's vision that's inducing a threat response such that the person's bod doesn't feel safe bending over, and would really rather not, is manifesting as restricted hip extension? Until vision is addressed, it's very likely that that restriction will keep coming back.
    Motor Learning: Active rather than Passive. Another part of the approach that is compelling is again, as part of the respect for the nervous system as governor of the body is that that system is always learning. We know from neurology that our movements induce motor learning (movement learning) patterns. What we rep is what our bodies "know" and we go to what we know.  So when we're trying to adjust a movement so that it feels better, lets us go further, then we want to give our nerves learning that new or newish pattern as much stimulation as we can.

    SAID That's "specific adaptation to imposed demand" - it's apparently how we respond to load. We adapt to exactly what we do. So let's imagine the usual passive manipulation space. We're on a table in a practitioner's office. That means we're horizontal. And now we're being held, told to relax, let the therapist do whatever.  Now keep SAID in mind.

    I've written about active and passive before, and there's a great video with that post over here, but in brief,  as presented in that video's summary of manual/active, in manual therapy - where something is being done to us - two things happen:
    • we're usually lying down on a table so we can be worked upon - which is not the position in which we perform
    • in being manipulated literally tens of thousands fewer nerves are stimulated than when we have to coordinate our movement ourselves
    Thus, our nervous system's limited learning is about how to feel while on a table and while being passively manipulated. That's not how most of us spend our days. Likewise, because the action is passive, also, the motor learning opportunity is substantially decreased. This is why *often* people have about a 40min window of feeling really great getting off a table, and need to be adjusted, massaged, whatevered regularly - and would do so likely daily if they could afford it - to try to keep that sensation of wellness.

    Combination of Benefit Effect Of VPP Approach
    By taking a primarily active approach to assessment with a nervous system lens, we leverage the nervous system's speed for accelerating performance improvement. So, by operating with natural and sports-specific active movements,
    • we respect the SAID principle, repping in better quality movement
    • we leverage motor learning's increased neuron engagement so increase speed of uptake
    • we respect the VPP hieararchy to ensure higher order systems are considered
    • we can do immediate, on the spot evaluations of effectiveness
    Whither Manual? None of the above is meant to say manual therapies do not have a place. Lots of good things happen when we are touched by another person. Stress can be decreased; there's evidence to suggest that healer's hands produce electromagnetic fields that non-healers do not and that these radiations have great effect on cells in the process of healing. Fabulous. And sometimes, it's lovely just to go for a massage - to enjoy the restorative pleasure of that moment and feel zen for the rest of the evening. Super.

    The point may be, howerver, just that: manual therapy has a role but not the sole role or perhaps not even the dominant role.

    Let's break it down: surrendering our own power? When we go to a manual therapist, fundamentally what are we saying? Often it's, i'm broken; i need someone else to fix me. That's understandable. That's what we're taught from an early age. Illness means someone else or something else has to *fix* us. Sometimes, for sure, some external intervention is a good idea. But how much intervention? Remember the old saw about give someone a fish, you feed them for a day, teach them to fish, feed them for a lifetime? With physical problems, it seems we're encouraged to beg fish rather than go fishing.

    You may say - heh! isn't there a contradiction here? you there mc are saying be all proactive and responsible about your health practice and this whole post is about going to get a movement assessment? Ah but i've also said repeatedly "everyone needs a coach." The best athletes may have multiple coaches for different aspects of their game, oui? Likewise grad students have supervisors. Colleagues have mentors. Teams have coaches. Why? does a coach do the work for the athlete?  No. Great coaches guide their charges to help them tune their performance - whatever that may be.

    Likewise many of the movement specialist colleagues i know prefer to see themselves as coaches. Or nudgers. Where we help guide movement to better functioning paths. But the work is still done by the person being coached. And it's that active engagement that fires up SAID, motor learning, and speedy effectiveness.

    The athlete does the work; the coach - by knowing how to test and reassess - helps find the path to tune up the process and make that process happen so much faster and more efficiently.

    A movement assessment is not just a tune up; it's a tune in, a dial in, a performance optimization boost.  The approach i've described focuses on movement performance optimization. Often, what we find is that when we help movement get better pain goes down or disappears too.  So folks with this training actually do see a lot of people who have pain. And we do see a lot of folks who are looking for that nudge to the next level.

    The value add of such coaches/specialists is the speed with which an effect is seen. When folks come in with pain, that's often - here's what's wild - the easiest part of the job. Really. What we'd rather be doing is saying ok, now that you've got that out of the way, can we talk about how to make your workouts, your work, your general well being that much better, too? Why be just "out of pain"? why not be exceptional?

    How can a movement specialist offer this kind of coaching? If you're really interested, take a look at the detailed descriptions of those assessments in each of the certifications offered for instance by Z-Health. We learn literally hundreds of assessments and drills to help tune people's individual performance. Individual. That's another word we'll have to get into another time, but this approach respects that we are complex systems and thus respond in a highly individual way to everything. So those assessments are likewise available to tune what's interesting for you.

    A movement assessment - where this whole post started - is the first step to helping a person optimize their performance no matter what kind of athlete we are from keyboard athletes - as Jen Waak calls some of us in the knowledge working field - to elite sport athletes whom we watch at the olympics. We're moving. Most of us can move better. Guidance to help find that path facilitates and accelerates that performance boost.

    VPP Resources

    Essentials of Elite Performance DVD mini course
    A lot of the drills that might be discovered to be optimal for the person will be in any of the three main z-health dvd's. Detailed descriptions of all of them are over in the Movement listing. These disks include drills for VPP work. So yes, in short, one could skip the whole movement assessment and work their way through these series and performance will improve. You betcha.

    Indeed, the Essentials of Elite Performance mini course on 3 DVDs offers over a dozen self assessments too. And that may be just the ticket for you.

    Why an Assessment then? The difference between a DVD and a live session with a coach is the difference a trained eye can bring to any performance: speed of resolution, refinement of process, acceleration towards the next level of performance.

    Take Aways: Movement Assessment as Tune In
    So what have we got?
    A movement assessment as described here
    • is an iterative assessment that looks holistically at how a person moves before specifically since
    • it recognises that the site of an issue may not be the source of an issue
    • it takes the nervous system as the highest order system, governing the body
    • it respects the somato-sensory hierarchy (VPP)  and can work with each of these systems because
    • it has dozens of assessments and drills within these systems that can be combined and brought to bare
    • because of its focus on the nervous system, it gets immediate feedback on effect
    • it is an iterative process of test, reassess to tune in the best effect
    • it is an active process - the athlete owns their own movement and is improving their own movement
    Getting Going
    IF this approach to movement optimization sounds great to you, and you'd like to investigate it, here's a listing of trainers.

    Working with mc: If there's no one in your neighborhood, some of us, myself included, do assessments via Skype: if you have a web cam and room to take a few paces, you have a set up for an assessment. Contact and related info here.

    If you'd like to learn these coaching approaches yourself, a great way to start is with the Essentials of Elite Performance workshop. Otherwise, i'd recommend just call the office (888-394-4198), let them know mc suggested you call, tell them of your interest and they'll get you going. 

    So there - that's why i suggest a Movement Assessment for whatever ails ya in pain & performance - doctor's approval to train of course understood.

    Related Posts

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    A real body transformation over real time - more why i like precision nutrition's approach

    Tis the season when hearts and minds turn to Body Comp - weight loss, muscle gain. Guilt. What to do? Need a plan that respects mind, gut and gusto, which is why i dig Precision Nutrition. Why? Let's start with the basics.

    We know from research discussed here before that body comp change is more than 80% diet first. Exercise certainly helps for a ton of reasons; but what we eat is the heart of body comp change. Quick reality check? 20 mins of high intensity exhausting intervals is about the equivalent of 1.5-2 pieces of whole grain dry toast. What's the easier way to cut those 200kcals: do the intervals or cut the toasties? And if we don't want to Kill All Toast? well, when to have the toast can be optimized (i am a big toast optimizer). So this post is really a quick review - with a pretty stunning new example - of why PN is a great go to place for getting one with nutrition.

    I've posted over the past year a few times about why i like Precision Nutritions's approach to helping people find a healthy path to well being by taking into account both nutrition and exercise - two big markers in the proces -and also by taking a habits based rather than calorie counting or diet based approach: build great eating knowledge and habits, and one has skills for a life time.

    The other thing i've said i like about PN is that it gives one a real opportunity to get to know oneself in terms of what works and what doesn't work for oneself for food and body comp. To dial that in once makes it so easy to practice, tune, refine explore forever after. Really.

    One more thing about PN - it's very much a whole food/whole person approach rather than a "fabulous in forty days" or "starve yourself thin" or "kill carrots and get lean." No food in PN is evil - but finding out when what and how a food works for a person is part of the process. 

    And finally - but not last in any sense - PN's social support is bar none fabulous. I've written about that, too.

    PN comes in two flavours: its stand alone program that has not only an awesome program (i've detailed it before), but a fabulous forum of experts - not just fellow sufferers - for support and information.

    The second flavour is its 6month coaching program that is all online with regular daily information, practices, reality checks - more or less keeping one honest and providing support for a realistic period of time to get real results. I've posted before examples of such real results.

    The Transformation of Transformations
    Yesterday, some of us got a note about another transformation from following the PN sanity approach to eating, health and habits. It really blew me away. Why? because it's showing a journey not of 12 weeks or 6 months but of a year. And it's of a Real Person. Doing a year of slow but steady - with results and practices and knowledge to last a life time. It works. No added filler. No hyped claims. Just take the time, use the strategy, get consistent and there it is.

    Look at this transformation - over a year - took off 70lobs and 20%bf. You can see it. The secret of his success?

    As you'll see reading Yano's transformation story, he stuck with the plan, Stan.  He committed to HIMSELF to do this.

    Two Paths to Success
    The approach in PN is so sane, so progressive, and so real you can't not but be happy.  Indeed here's a
    Free Pn Overview - 40 page plus free way to check out the approach to get a feel for it. IT's not a do everything overnight thing; it's find where to start and keep building - and there's strategies to support that. PN gets that there's more to this than just lining up the food to eat. There's a head game in the health game. Respect that, add a bit of knowledge, patience, breath. Everything works.

    PN System  If you're the kind of folk who just need the guidelines as long as you have guidelines to follow, and can tune into the social network that is the PN forum, then really really check out the whole huge page detailing what comes with the Precision Nutrition system.

    PN Lean Eating Program. If you're someone who's just had it with trying to go it on your own, and wants a little more structure every day of every month of a six month process - a just tell me what to do so i can do it - with ALL of everything explained from how to lift a weight, to when to add in intervals and how,  to what habit to focus on (like taking fish oil or algae oil daily), then consider the Lean Eating Program - here's a page that heads into full of info about the way the program works - tuned for men and for women.

    Great Big Love
    As with all safe good products, there's a guarentee with PN - person doesn't find it helpful, full refund. This is such an easy way to get into making it safe AND informational if you want, it's an easy approach to give to someone you love who's said they're looking for a way into better eating, better nutrition, better them.

    Why the big Endorsement?
    I like it; it works.
    It's also real, the science is there if you want to geek out on what you're doing, the approach is there if you just want to do it, the PEOPLE are there who have been there if you need it.
    - and the people i've met at PN who are so smart and kind are an unlooked for asset.

    I've been doing the Pn Tao if you will since 2007. My way of doing PN has changed over that period as i've changed. But i know more about what i'm doing with those changes and how to assess them because of PN. Here's a rather cool example of doing the PN thang in an individual way. And as Ryan explains in this piece, PN is fundamentally about helping a person find what works for them nutritionally and whole well-being-y in terms of food and exerices.

    Indeed, i'd found the PN process so inspiring that i did the PN certification to coach folks in their own nutrition quest - and learned even more about nutrition as a result. So i think that says there's something good hear.

    Here's another thing: changing habits is hard, and food is frought with habituated responses. PN gets that and helps with that too. It's not a diet; it's a way of getting to what works for you. Yano's results are awesome, but so are those of just about everyone i know who's done PN - and what's cool - of the folks i met in 07 doing PN - we're still there on the forum, moving and grooving, learning more, helping out, keeping the habits sharing what we've learned. It's not about diet it's about life.

    So do it for yourself, or share it with the one you love. It will be an awesome gift to self, either way.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Flu Fighting: Just Wash Your Hands - Often?

    ResearchBlogging.org We all appreciate quick fixes. Bag's got a hole in it and no time for a proper repair? Duct tape can help. On the run and no time for a full meal? A protein bar can help. These aren't meant as long term real fixes but emergency quickies when we just have to get from A to B. On the road and not sure of the nutrient quality in the food? A multivitamin can be a good idea for back up. Fine. Great. But sometimes, it seems, we look for quick fixes for more than emergency gap fillers. I'm talking about the flu vaccine.

    We are told that getting a flu vaccine - or buying one for someone we love - is one of the best things we can do for health in the flu season. Indeed, in one province in Canada, this is the conclusion of a research study as a best way to promote vacine uptake in younger adults.

    I have a couple issues with this message. 1 - a vaccine gives the impression that it's a shield against all flu ills. 2 - having said shield tends to afford a license to get sloppy with other more time intensive approaches to our care of self and those around us. Neither is a Good Thing.

    This post offers a quick overview about flu vaccine  - and a quick reminder of other approaches that seem to be even more effective in reducing flu catching likelihood. Indeed the post ends with two challenges: frequent soap and water hand washing, and even harder perhaps: developing a strategy to ensure we stick with the practice.

    Quite a years ago, moving to a new job/city, i got the flu three times in one year. I swore never again, and became an ardent fan of the flu vaccine. In canada, these are free. In the UK, once the prime population has 'em, GP's can also dispense the left overs freely. Great. Flu be gone! I put my success down to the vaccine. A couple years ago, on getting more into the research on the vaccine, i stopped getting it, and adjusted some health habits. Still haven't had the flu since. Some mighty colds (that hasn't changed though the frequency and intensity has gone down), but no flu. Maybe i'm a statistical anomoly. Maybe not.  So here's a bit of what seems to be known about the vaccine.

    Flu Vaccine:
    Drug Companies. Let's state the obvious: drug companies make their living on product sales. When the H1N1 virus broke out, sales of the rapidly developed and not so rapidly tested vacine sold an awful lot. The drug was rushed into production. Sales to governments like those in the UK were huge. Someone's problem is always someone else's silver lining.

    Governments. Govn'ts also seem to like quick fixes and a fast way to show that they're Doing Something for the population. Buying in Lots of Drugs for the People does seem to look like the govn't is Being Responsible. Acting Fast. Grr. Way to Go, Government. This of course is the same motivation that has an ex-government homeland security head now lobbyist getting lots of back scatter, full body x-ray machines into airports. The Quick Fix Solution thanks to Technology. But i digress.

    The Science. Last year, Canadian scientists found that folks who had had seasonal flu shots in the past, and then had the H1N1 shot were more likely to get H1N1. Apparently the reports of this study had a hard time making it into the US media where the vaccine was being promoted on a grand scale. Now that's a drug interaction effect. And indeed, a very recent report out of UofToronto suggests that in ontario, the mass shoot up of flu vaccine in Ontario was good value for money. That seems so odd: scientists saying it could make things worse; statisticians saying good value?

    What do we know? That's a toughie. Let's take it by population.

    For Elders. The flu shot is often prioritised for "people over 50." This past year, however, researchers lead by Thomas Jefferson in Rome, showed that the research doesn't support current vacines to be as beneficial as claims that have been made for them:
    Overall, the authors write, "Our findings show that according to reliable evidence, the effectiveness of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccines in elderly individuals is modest, irrespective of setting, outcome, population, and study design. Our estimates are consistently below those usually quoted for economic modeling or decision making."
    Does this mean don't get the shot?  In certain conditions, it's still viewed to be better than a kick in the head.
    "We do need better studies to determine the effectiveness of influenza vaccine in the elderly, and CDC is working on such studies," Skinner commented. "However, it's a fact that influenza causes a heavy burden of illness and death among people 65 and older. This burden, combined with limited data from randomized trials as well as studies in nursing homes and other settings, support the current vaccination recommendations of the United States and many other countries."
    In an interview with Jefferson in Der Spiegel, Jefferson was more critical:
    Jefferson...In the best of cases, the few decent studies that exist show that the vaccine mainly works with healthy young adults. With children and the elderly, it only helps a little, if at all.
    SPIEGEL: But aren't those the exact groups that influenza immunization is recommended for?
    Jefferson: Indeed. That's one of the contradictions between scientific findings and practice, between evidence and policy.
    For the General Population. One of the most compelling statements from the Jefferson interview is with regard to the well hyped drug Tamiflu. Jefferson states:
    If taken at the right time, on average, Tamiflu reduces the duration of a real influenza by one day. One study found it reduced the risk of pneumonia [maybe this one? - mc].
    The entire interview is well worth reading. Jefferson, whose group the Cochrane Collaboration whose mission is to review the scientific literature around disease,  points out that deaths attributed to flu are based on some pretty weird estimates (not facts) that may not be influenza virus based at all. Likewise that the huge focus on influenza as opposed to other viruses "is not only misguided, but dangerous." And what's the thing that's mis-guiding? What, good b2d readers, do you think? Even science is not immune.

    Needless to say, Jefferson took a lot of heat for saying the Emperor may have some thin clothes. There's a nice discussion of the critique of the critique's critics over at the Atlatntic.

    So what's a gal or guy to do? Wash Up
    Turns out that the recommendations posted last year on b2d for fighting a wretched cold are pretty good when it comes to any respiratory illness: wash your hands.

    At the risk of being single source repetetive, Jefferson suggests that airports get fitted with 100's of wash basins, and that folks who do not wash after exiting a plane be held by security.
    Whoever gets off a plane and doesn't wash their hands should be stopped by the border police. You could tell for example by putting an invisible, neutral dye in the water. And wearing masks can be sensible, as well.
    Soap and Water. And note: what is being promoted is hand washing rather than alcohol gels, but if there's no soap and water? Gels are better than nothing - a duct tape fix - but washing's best.

    Cultural Awareness: Soap and water. Rinse and Repeat.
    How make soaping up exciting? I wonder what dyson might do with this if they added some amazing Jetson's like technology to go with their awesome hand dryers? These things make a trip to the otherwise super crowded Waterloo Station toilets not just a necessity, but an adventure. It's like NASA for the masses. And assuming we don't have to touch the bathroom door handles on the way out? Really cool. Until these devices become more common, well, education campaigns?

    communication? There are the occaisional totally disgusting ads in the UK that just gross one out to say there are bugs in the atmosphere - but they don't actually show one how to wash one's hands or how long to do so or how frequently.  And do they actually show cool easy ways to carry a hankerchief and use it if you are in the Snuffle Space?

    Support? One of my students the other day was horking all over the place at a meeting. He just laughed the first time i said go get some kleenex. He didn't after i told him to leave and not come back till he had some. He missed my following mini-lecture on why that's what happened was a social catastrophe waiting to happen. Especially in light of upcoming deadlines for everyone in that room. Where's my educational back up pack, though? where's the illustrated posters? the iPhone Aps for the handwashing frequency competitions? The how-to videos? Maybe we need more than just a single-factor approach to support real behaviour change?
    Research. How so certain that handwashing is the big help? Contact someone's germs from their spewing (germs: invisible; live on surfaces for hours); put contacted fingers on nose; we are toast. It's that simple a transmission. Wash hands with soap; this lifts germs from hands; rinse hands - germs get flushed, quite literally, down the drain. No hand to nose transmission. Wash hands frequently after surface contacts; reduce incidence of exposure.

    Despite this simple and pretty fool-proof chain of actions, there's some pretty big work underway to see if handwashing can do more than cut back occurrences, but can cut back on days of sick time taken at work. And since sick days are a big cost to work, there's a big incentive to get this effect quantified. That study's just beginning.

    But there's other work extant from the world of the 2003 SARS outbreak:
    A korean study showed that ads to promote hand washing during various flu seasons definitely increased hand washing behaviour - especially among women. Guys, it seems, need other methods to encourage practice. let's get on it, Science! Likewise, a review of studies around the SARS outbreak in 2003 showed that handwashing went up, and that the habit stayed up after the outbreak, declining only slowly. Again, gals get with the program in greater numbers. What's with this, boys? Seems that a single approach like *just* education is not enough to get action.

    Lessons from Hospitals. Other research around the SARS outbreak showed that the biggest protection for hospital workers against the disease spreading was actually - i love this - multifactorial. In other words, not JUST an education program to staff to wash hands, but all around better processes for identifying problems before they get to congested emergency rooms, better processing of these infectious cases to be detected, isolated, processed, and then better inter-patient/carer hand hygiene. The whole package.

    From Hospital to Workforce. What would a whole package for an office or university environment be? I'm not alone in suggesting, at the first sign of sniffles or just "that feeling" of a Thing coming on, have support from work to work from home, to rest and beat back the symptoms.  In the work/school space, where are those extra wash basins everywhere?  Why have to go to the loo to use a basin? in hospitals, they're in the hallways, no? What about investment in actually having kleenex and secure kleenex disposals everywhere? Bring back the role of the handkerchief in fashion?

    Overview of Research: just frickin' wash up. In lieu of wholesale improvement, we can all wash our hands more frequently, eh? Some of us may even have some influence in on-site work practices. We can use that too, no?  Indeed, another Cochraine review has shown that. "Many simple and probably low-cost interventions would be useful for reducing the transmission of epidemic respiratory viruses" Talk about cost-effective.

    Some Back Ups: Vitamin D as a help?
    I'm almost hesitant to suggest vitamin d as a flu busting helper because it seems so quick fix-y. But where we KNOW that hand washing helps reduce the opportunities for a respiratory virus to spread, there seems some evidence that vitamin d seems to help reduce incidence of these viruses taking hold - some.

    The idea seems to be not so much that super dosing with vit D is the big antibiotic win; rather, most of us who are not exposed sufficiently to the sun to get it through our skin, are simply too deficient in this steroidal hormone vitamin to have enough of it in our systems to do what we evolved out in the desert to do. Have a lot more vit D in our systems. Get that up to "normal" levels (what those are is still under debate, but 4000IU's a day seems to be in the zone. That's ten times the current RDA) and it seems we're in for better disease prevention all 'round. There's a nice discussion of these points by J. J. Cannell here.  Cannell seems to be one of the biggest proponents of vitamin D as a break on the flu, though there are some growing results to suggest he's not alone (some papers listed below).

    Now, i've been taking 4000IU's a day for over a year. I'm about to have blood work done to see if the vit D i'm taking is actually being absorbed or if i'm deficient. I'm curious. If we're not testing, we're guessing, right? I'll report back. 

    Ok what about the Vaccine?
    Readers, like last year, i'm not getting one this year. That's my choice and it's not a recommendation. I haven't experienced any harm from taking a vaccine; i haven't expereinced any harm of late from not taking it.

    So why not get one? We know that by the time a vaccine is ready for one virus, that virus may have already mutated and the vacine be pretty worthless. It also seems that wholesale vacination can assist mutation and helps, some contend, to weaken the immune system. Again, i am not making a recommendation.

    So if not about the Vacine, What? Better Broader Habits - including soap and water.
    THis post really isn't at bottom to get folks either to take or not take the flu vaccine; it's to encourage us to practice safer, broader health habits. And these habits are simple: wash hands frequently. Find an excuse to get to sink and get into the technique of soap and water use.

    Handwashing is part of course of an overall health regimen: good food, rest, happiness, stress management, vit D levels, reducing exposure to infected folks, etc. But all that said, it seems it's a pretty good practice to ensure is up to speed.

    Skills. The only way i've been able to not become entirely bored about hand washing is to note what seems a good correlation between decreased personal incidence of hand washing and cold getting for instance, zero flu; and pretty quick return of cold getting if my hand washing habits get a little sloppy.

    And so, as a geek, i've gotten into hand washing technique. Getting each diget - back front inbetween - seeing if i can actually make the exercise last 20 secs. Using a paper towel to open the door to the loo after washing my hands. That sort of thing. Without which, oh come on, it's so tedious, eh?

    SO here's the challenges for most of us:
    • every time we go to the loo (that's you too, guys), wash our hands.
    • every time we come out of an office or classroom or gym or dining space where we've been touching surfaces others of dubious provenance have hit before us, wash our hands with soap and water (i shudder thinking about all of the objects in the gym alone)
    • every time we get off public transportation, find somewhere to soap and water it. 

    Perhaps a bigger challenge:
    • spending some cycles to find a way to keep us motivated to develop and keep up this practice.

    How are you motivating yourself to wash your hands - frequently? Please post a comment.

    For bonus points? All the vids on hand washing that i've seen on YouTube actually kinda suck. Too much talking head stuff. Or really depressing visuals. The CDC one above seems about the best. Surely there are better ways to do this, to blend technique with a bit of the why's? - Like the fact that soap just lifts the germs off the hands, and it's the running water that moves 'em off the hands? or that having paper towels may actually be good for openning the bathroom door on the way out so as not to re-germ up the hands? If you make a vid, please post a link in the comments below.

    Thanks, and best to you and your health this flu season.

    Cannell, J., Zasloff, M., Garland, C., Scragg, R., & Giovannucci, E. (2008). On the epidemiology of influenza Virology Journal, 5 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1743-422X-5-29
    Ginde, A., Mansbach, J., & Camargo, C. (2009). Association Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Level and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Archives of Internal Medicine, 169 (4), 384-390 DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2008.560
    Kaboli, F., Astrakianakis, G., Li, G., Guzman, J., Naus, M., & Donovan, T. (2010). Influenza Vaccination and Intention to Receive the Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Vaccine among Healthcare Workers of British Columbia, Canada: A Cross‐Sectional Study Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 31 (10), 1017-1024 DOI: 10.1086/655465

    Jefferson T, Del Mar C, Dooley L, Ferroni E, Al-Ansary LA, Bawazeer GA, van Driel ML, Nair S, Foxlee R, & Rivetti A (2010). Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses: a Cochrane review. Health technology assessment (Winchester, England), 14 (34), 347-476 PMID: 20648717
    Park, J., Cheong, H., Son, D., Kim, S., & Ha, C. (2010). Perceptions and behaviors related to hand hygiene for the prevention of H1N1 influenza transmission among Korean university students during the peak pandemic period BMC Infectious Diseases, 10 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1471-2334-10-222
    Savolainen-Kopra, C., Haapakoski, J., Peltola, P., Ziegler, T., Korpela, T., Anttila, P., Amiryousefi, A., Huovinen, P., Huvinen, M., Noronen, H., Riikkala, P., Roivainen, M., Ruutu, P., Teirila, J., Vartiainen, E., & Hovi, T. (2010). STOPFLU: is it possible to reduce the number of days off in office work by improved hand-hygiene? Trials, 11 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1745-6215-11-69

    Sander, B., Bauch, C., Fisman, D., Fowler, R., Kwong, J., Maetzel, A., McGeer, A., Raboud, J., Scales, D., & Gojovic, M. (2010). Is a mass immunization program for pandemic (H1N1) 2009 good value for money? Evidence from the Canadian Experience☆ Vaccine, 28 (38), 6210-6220 DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2010.07.010
    White, J. (2008). Vitamin D Signaling, Infectious Diseases, and Regulation of Innate Immunity Infection and Immunity, 76 (9), 3837-3843 DOI: 10.1128/IAI.00353-08


    Related Posts with Thumbnails