Introduction: In this podcast episode: muscle imbalances, varicose veins, a degenerative spine, getting stuffed up while training, baking soda, HGH supplements, a supplement called Generation UCan, how to build strength, using biofeedback, bikram yoga, cold water showers, protein intake for endurance athletes, power breathing devices, improving power on the bicycle, cramping and magnesium.
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and this podcast today is for anybody who has any nagging aches or pains or muscle issues that just don’t seem to be going away. It’s going to be a very interesting talk that I have with a fellow named Rick, who is a personal trainer and kinisieologist and he’s going to be talking to us about muscle imbalances. In addition, we’ve got a Listener Q and A today and a special announcement about the podcast. I promised you last week that I would have a special announcement and we’re going to jump in to all that today, but I just wanted to share with you something really quickly that was kind of in the front of my mind because it just came across my desk and that is the results of the recent testing that I did with Bioletics just got back and I did a vitamin D test, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids and hormonal test and the results were not all that impressive. There are some definite adjustments that are going to be needed to be made with my diet and supplementation. We’ll be talking about that in a future podcast. But it did get me to thinking, if I do as much as I do for my nutrition, my supplementation, my health, my recovery and take care of my body as well as I take care of my body; what must the nutrition profile or deficiency profiles of people who don’t focus on that quite as much look like? When I hear about so many people getting injured or getting sick and especially people who want to do sports like Ironman triathlon or marathon or feats of physical endurance; I think a lot of people are probably pretty messed up and don’t even know that and the reason that I say that is just because my results are not that impressive and I take very good care of my body. So what I’m beginning to realize is that in order to really, truly have optimum ideal health and have your performance at the very highest that you want it to be, there are some pretty extreme ends that you need to go through and I’m going to be exploring those as I go forward into this training year and of course as many of you know I’m training for Ironman Hawaii right now and I’m continuing to buffet my body and prepare it for that race. But no matter what your goals are, I think you need to realize that sometimes you do have to think outside the box when it comes to your health if you want to take it to the next level. So that is my rant for today. We’re going to move on to this week’s special announcements.
Folks, we’re going to start right off with the special announcement that I promised for you last week and that is that some serious dramatic changes need to be made to this podcast, and for the reason that has nothing to do with you, but rather me and primarily the fact that the podcast is getting longer and longer and more difficult for me to record. I am literally getting hundreds of questions each week from people and I go through and basically I try and choose questions that haven’t been addressed before on the podcast, but I also receive requests for interivews and ultimately there’s a lot of things that could be included in this podcast that I want to deliver to you but that I can’t, becauser I’m spending all this time basically answering your questions and giving you an interview. So what I have decided to do in order to be able to deliver to you all this value – because I have all these research journals coming across my desk and I see all these studies, I talk to all these people – there’s all sorts of things I want to give to you that I can’t right now. Right now, I do some of that through my Body Transformation club which is the weekly postcard and the secret page that I give out to people who are signed up for the Body Transformation club, but it’s a lot different than a podcast and so I’ve been talking with my wife actually who is a fantastic natural healthy homemaker and we’ve been shooting ideas back and forth. And what we’ve decided to do is we’re going to bring you a second podcast of the week. Yes, that’s right. Over at iTunes in the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast that you’re already subscribed to or on the Web site where you already download the podcast, there’s going to be a second one that appears towards the end of the week. And what this podcast is going to give to you is the latest research in fitness and nutrition. It’s going to include my wife and I basically discussing and bringing that research to you in a world perspective, primarily because I’m kind of the scientific, geeky fellow who reads all the research and my wife just wants the practical takeaway messages. So she and I are going to be discussing a lot of these journals and a lot of this research that comes across my desk. And then she is going to have a special – about a 15 to 20 minute segment that is going to teach you the ways that she implements that in our home for our health, for our nutrition, for our children in everything from cleaning supplies to cooking to what she uses to make our home the healthiest home possible because this podcast is about health as much as it is about fitness and nutrition. And then also in that podcast, I’m going to be bringing you the latest in exercise research, giving you workouts of the week, giving you a lot of the things that I don’t currently give you in the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast just because there’s not enough time on the podcast to do that. There will be a special Listener Q and A in that episode that will begin after the first month or so of the episode, because we do know that some questions will be generated from the content that we put out on that podcast. So we’re going to open up a Q and A that is specific to that podcast and specific to some of the things that my wife and I talk about on the show. So look forward to that being about an hour long. It’s going to be exercise and nutrition based. It’s going to be a lot more practical takeaway implements type of knowledge whereas the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast is more of a teaching and education podcast. So essentially, you’ll come away with that new podcast that’s going to be coming out next week with new workouts and new exercises as well as new nutrition and things you can do on the homefront to make your home a healthier home. So, look forward to that. We’re working hard on it. We’ll bring it to you next week and we’re going to move on to some other special announcements for this podcast. Specifically that on September 5th, which is a Sunday, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. there’s going to be a live nutrition and fitness Q and A with me, and that’s a video Q and A with me where I can demonstrate exercises. I can take you into my kitchen and around my house and show you some of the stuff I’m using as I answer your questions. But that’s going to be all live. It’s all free. So make sure that you go over to the Shownotes for https://bengreenfieldfitness.comepisode number 108 on September 5th. You’ll be able to click there and attend that live video, nutrition and fitness Q and A. Speaking of the Shownotes I will be delivering the Shownotes again this week to those of you who subscribed via iTunes through your iTunes feed so you’ll be able to have those appear instantly on your desk right along with the podcast download. And then finally, this is the very last week that you’re going to be able to get in to the Thailand trip, which is the double triathlon or single triathlon trip if you’d like to Thailand at the end of November. The trip dates are November 24 through December 7. The very last date that I can squeeze anybody in – even though both races are full, I can get you in with the waitlist spots that I have – the very last day that you can get in is August 31st if you want in on that super fun trip to Thailand for any of you triathletes out there. And of course the registration for my triathlon camp in Austin, Texas is still open. You will need to contact me soon if you want to get in on that and get the early bird discount. So make sure that you email [email protected] if you want to go to a triathlon camp with me in Austin, Texas from January 31st through February 6. So we’re going to move on to this week’s Listener Q and A after a special message.
Alright folks, if you have a question, remember you can email [email protected]. You can Skype to username Pacificfit using the Skype software from skype.com or you can call toll free in the U.S. at least to 877-2099439. Or like the first person in today’s Q and A did, you can ask your question via Twitter by going to twitter.com. Go to twitter.com and follow bengreenfield and once you follow me, you can ask a question. This first question comes via Twitter.
Samtsirhc asks: “I am training for a half marathon and have varicose veins in my calves. The doctor said no running. What do you say? Can I treat them?
Ben answers: Well, varicose veins are not something that your doctor would warn you to not run with unless you were actually at risk for something called thrombohplebitis, which is… well I’ll tell you what it is in a second. But basically, varicose veins – it’s another word for a dilated vein or a big vein. And the function of your leg veins is to take blood and bring it back up to your heart from your legs, and the veins have valves that make it so the blood doesn’t flow back down into your legs. When the valves malfunction, which can happen as you age – as the blood flows away from your heart, those veins become more and more dilated and it’s usually kind of a slow process. Running typically wouldn’t be an issue. But, if the bulging in those veins is accompanied by any type of stinging sensation or your doctor has any reason to believe that you may be at risk for a clot developing in those veins, then you’re somebody who probably has to worry about something called thrombophlebitis which is basically when you do have a clot that could break loose in those veins. Thrombophlebitis basically means inflation of the veins due to blood clots. And legs are a pretty common place to get them. You hear occasionally about marathoners who sit down right after a race and they die or they have a stroke from a blood clot that broke free. A lot of times that is from trauma to the veins and the blood vessels that feed the leg. And if you have varicose veins, it’s almost like you’re stimulating that type of condition. So there are some things that you can do. Obviously, you definitely want to listen to your physician’s advice. But while you are resting, you’ll want to begin to do things that can help to take care of those varicose veins and some of the thrombophlebitis risks that you might have with them.
The first would be to use a compression type or a compression sock, which can function in the same way as those valves in your leg or are supposed to. And it can prevent swelling and reduce a lot of the complications from deep vein thrombosis or thrombophlebitis. And that would be something that you could get, there’s all sorts of companies that make support stockings or compression stockings. Skins is one. You can also go to your local medical supply store and usually get an over the counter stocking as well to wear. A lot of times you’ll get an over the counter, non-sterile, anti-inflammatory drug. I don’t really recommend that you use those too frequently. I like one natural anti-inflammatory called Venocaine. It’s called Venocaine. It’s a good alternative to ibuprofen. I would recommend that you look into something like that.
There are procedues that you can undergo such as varicose vein stripping, filtering or clot removal or a bypass as well as an angioplasty. If you really want to get into running, those are things that you could discuss with your physician. And of course there are dietary measures that can help to prevent the development of varicose veins or thin your blood and decrease your risk of the clot formation. So, a high-fibre diet. Anything from vegetables to fruits to grains to nuts. Any type of meat that’s good for your heart like fish is also great to take in. Increasing your intake of the dark, dark fruits like pomegranate, blackberry, cherry, blueberry. All of those contain components of what are called cianadins that improve your vein function. And as far as things that can thin your blood, ginger can do that. Garlic, onions – anything like capsaicinids like a hot pepper. All those can help prevent clot formation because of the blood thinning properties. And then vein function can really be improved with the vitamin B complex. So you have your vitamin Bs. You want to make sure you are getting those in, especially if you are a vegetarian and you’re not eating meat. And folic acid can also help out quite a bit as well. But understand that your doctor is probably not telling you to not run just because he doesn’t want you out running with varicose veins, scaring people away. I’m sorry that wasn’t a very nice thing to say. But he’s probably telling you that because he doesn’t want you to die from a clot. So impact based exercise is always going to put you at a bigger risk for trauma to those veins than non-impact based exercises. So I would look into swimming and cycling as alternative activities if your physician is okay with you doing those, as you explore alternatives for getting rid of the varicose veins.
Okay, we have another question here that came through from listener Ken. And Ken actually has a three part question.
Ken asks: “I read and listened to one of your podcasts about the wonders of sodium bicarbonate. Is it safe to take baking sodium daily to maintain good PH levels?”
Ben answers: What Ken is probably referring to is the interview that I did with Dr. Mark Sirkus, where he talked about baking soda. He actually advocates using baking soda for a lot of different chronic diseases including cancer with the claim that baking soda can induce the state of what is called metabolic alkalosis, which can decrease the formation of cancer related tumors and also increase the body’s ability to recover from things like chemotherapy. It helps to protect the kidneys and the heart and the nervous system. So, he advocates actually taking about six doses of a half teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of cool water at two hour intervals. So basically you’re taking in quite a bit of baking soda, and there are several other health effects that are purported from baking soda beyond reducing the formation of tumors from cancer. I’m not saying that I necessarily agree that that’s going to do that. I’m saying that is what Dr. Sirkus recommends it for and that’s what he does some of his treatments with cancer patients with, is bicarbonate of soda or baking soda. Now, you talk about using it to induce metabolic alkalosis or to lower the blood PH or lower the body’s PH. The basic idea behind that and actually what I meant to say was raise – raise the body’s PH. The basic idea behind that is that the body operates at a PH – the body’s most metabollically efficient at a certain PH, and many of the foods and pollutants that we get exposed to tends to induce a more acidic state within our body. So the baking soda is something that could be consumed on a daily basis, just like a regular Arm and Hammer baking soda, to actually keep the body more alkalitic because it’s a very non-acidic alkaline type of substance. It can also be used for everything for putting on itching or hives or stings to reducing bad breath. You can use it for heartburn. You can use it for household cleaning, for sore throats, for sunburn. But this process of consuming it to induce a state of metabolic alkalosis is actually getting to be more common in alternative health and alternative medicine. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with any longterm studies that have looked at whether or not there is a reduced risk of chronic disease from daily consumption of baking soda. But I do know that in most cases, it’s not going to be bad for you. But there is one case in which the regular consumption of sodium bicarbonate could be something that could be harmful. The basic idea being that sodium bicarbonate that has been administered to people during CPR – for people who have had a cardiovascular event – causes essentially what is called hypernatremia, which is a very, very low water condition – low hydration condition and metabolic alkalosis, which has been associated after CPR in these studies with increased death or increased mortality rate. So, if you are at risk for a heart attack or you have had a heart condition in the past or you think you might be in a condition where someone might find themselves conducting CPR on you, you may want to watch your daily intake of sodium bicarbonate and maybe not use baking soda just because it can reduce survival rate after cardiac arrest. But that’s the only deleterious health effect that I know of. I’m not saying it’s going to induce a state of metabolic alkalosis in you or that it’s going to destroy all of your health issues, but it is something you can take and not have to worry too much about it doing a lot of damage to your body.
Now you also have another part of your question and you ask about this Somnidren GH. And you say, “Can you tell me the history of Millenium Sports who makes the product? Are they new to the supplement game. It looks like you are endorsed by them.” And then he gives the name of a Web site that does a supplement review of this Somnidrim GH. Basically, the idea is that Somnidren GH is something that I take and it’s made by a company called Millenium Sports and it is supposed to increase the levels of growth hormone that you produce when you are asleep because it contains something called GABA or gamma aminobutryic acid. And it also contains a derivative of butryic acid that induces a state of sleep. Some of the concerns raised by the article that this gentleman referred me to is that the part of Somnidren GH that helps you go to sleep can be addictive and shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol. I can tell you from personal experience that what I do with Somnidren GH is I take it usually two to three nights a week after my more difficult workout days to help myself sleep and recover more quickly. I always wake up feeling more refreshed and I never feel a need to take it on the nights that I don’t normally take it, I never have trouble getting to sleep when I don’t take it. So, using myself as a single case study, I can tell you that I haven’t experienced any of the things that this gentleman talks about in his review of it. But I also don’t mix it with alcohol and I don’t do any of the things that the label clearly tells you not to do. I take it on an empty stomach about five to ten minutes before I go to bed and I’m out like a light after I take it. Now, the company Millenium Sports is based out of Chwila, Washington. Basically, it’s owned by a fellow named Matt and Matt is an athlete himself and he formulated that product with help from a local MD who specializes in sleep disorders, a naturopathic physician and an endocronoligist. His company itself has been around since 2005. That company has been around since 2007 and I know that Matt does a ton of research on his products. He has sponsored me with some product for events that I have done and I have found a ton of success with using it. So the Somnidren GH – if you have a history of being addicted to substances, if you drink alchohol before bed, if you have some issues like that, it may not be the best supplement for you but for somebody who is training hard and who wants a couple of nights to really get into a deep sleep state and amp up the growth hormone release, I do recommend Somnidren GH as something that can do that. So it’s called Somnidren GH, and I’ll tell you what, I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes.
Finally, you ask about a supplement.
Ken asks: “I have a friend who recently ran the Boston Marathon and received a sample of Generation UCan.com and now swears by it. The company claims it uses fat as the primary source of energy which leads to greater weight loss, etc., etc. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this product.”
Ben answers: So I went over to the Generation Ucan Web site and basically, it’s anti-oxidant drink along with a protein drink and super starch drink which is like a carbohydrate-based drink. So, I looked at the nutrition facts for each of these products and essentially the super starch has only one ingredient which is modified corn starch, so that’s all that is. It’s modified corn starch that you eat for exercise, the same that you’d eat gels or sugar or anything else. So there’s nothing magical about that. There’s nothing inherently too harmful about it. I don’t know if they’re using GMO corn or non-GMO corn if people are worried about that. The other two samples – one is just a basic electrolyte supplement with salt and sugars. The other is a protein supplement, although its primary ingredient is also corn starch with sucralose and acesulfame potassium along with some other preservatives. This does not look like a real solid product to me. Not a huge fan of corn as it is, especially with some of the concerns about genetically modified corn. This product is nothing magical. There is absolutely nothing in here groundbreaking. It’s basically sugar, protein and artificial sweeteners. It looks like they have some really slick marketing though and their Web site does have some real cool flash rotating animated banners. So, I really wouldn’t get caught up in the hype too much on that one. But it’s a good question. It really just reminds me that folks, no matter how much hype and marketing is behind a supplement, you always want to go – just look at the ingredient label. That’s all I ask you to do. Look at the ingredient label and then make your decision. Don’t look at the cartoon character on the front or the flashy type of package that it might be in. What it comes down to is the ingredient label. Nothing else matters.
Okay, going to move on now to a question from Christian.
Christian asks: I am a surgeon and new triathlete in Florida. I have two questions. To increase strength instead of muscle mass, should I use high weight, low reps or high sets; or is there a better method?
Ben answers: Well Christian, they actually just came out with a recent study and the name of the study is called “Low load, high volume resistance exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis more than high load, low volume resistance exercise in young men.” Basically, what that means is that they took two groups and they wanted to compare which group’s muscles got bigger. So, which group had a greater amount of what’s called muscle anabolic formation of muscle tissue. One group did 90% of their one repetition maximum to failure and one group did 30% of their one repetition maximum to failure. So, that’s a pretty big range if your 100% maximum rep on a bicep curl is 100 pounds. One group was doing 90 pound dumbell curls, the other group was doing 30 pound dumbell curls. That’s kind of the idea. So, what they found was that the group that was doing the lighter weights – the 30 pound curls – that was the group that actually had a greater increase in the formation of new muscle fibers. This is actually something that personal trainers and physiologists have known for a while – something called hypertrophy – or the formation of muscle tissue is always going to respond better to a slightly higher rep range. That’s why cyclists have such huge thighs. But strength is a completely different story and many hundreds of research studies have clearly demonstrated that if you want superior strength gains, no matter how big you want the muscle to be – if you want superior strength and if you want your muscle to be able to generate a high force – you need to lift high weight, low reps. Of course the advantage of that for someone like a triathlete is that you can get stronger without putting a bunch of muscle on. So, we’re talking about reps in the four to ten rep range in order to actually induce a strength response. You would want to, if you’re going after strength, to lift those weights nice and slow and if you’re going after power, to choose a slightly lighter weight, still go low rep and lift it nice and fast. So these are some issues that I touch on in the new book that I’m working on called The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Triathlon. But essentially, what it comes down to is you should use high weight, low reps Christian. So, a sample workout for you might be four sets of six for bench press, deadlift, clean and jerk and squat if you really want to get stronger. Those multijoint exercises can help out quite a bit.
Then you ask, “What about using biofeedback training to lower heart rate and core body temp while training or racing to improve performance?”
So, biofeedback is kind of an interesting term because it can mean two things. Basically, biofeedback is a way of training and coaching someone by giving them feedback about their body. But it’s also, and I believe this is what Christian is referring to, it’s a tool that you can use. Basically, it’s a deal where you would hook yourself up to a computer. That computer is going to measure with sensors your heart rate, your blood pressure, your oxygen uptake, your perspiration rate which is an indicator of how stressed out you are and you can also get yourself hooked up to measure your brain activity with what’s called an electroencephalograph or an EEG, as well as the tension in your muscles with an electromyographic method which is called an EMG. All of this data that is being collected is done simultaneous to you practicing relaxation methods. So, it might be anything from progressive muscular relaxation to where you tighten up a muscle and then you release it. It might be word association where you’re teaching yourself to be relaxed as you focus on certain words and feelings of relaxation associated with those words. But essentially, you’re not just shooting in the dark. You’re actually looking at what’s happening biologically as you do those relaxation methods. So it’s bio or biological feedback. The question is does it actually work in something like athletes? Can you hook yourself up to biofeedback or do some biofeedback sessions, find out what types of words, breath rates, feelings, relaxation strategies actually help you to reduce your heart rate or to reduce your core temperature, to reduce your anxiety and then implement those during a marathon or triathlon or a bike ride or any athletic event. So, the studies that have been done have shown that people can to some extent reduce their breathing and their cardiac output or the work done by the heart during exercise if they use biofeedback. There’s been some reports done in exercise and sports science reviews on the biofeedback and self-regulation journal, in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, and in all the studies subjects who were given biofeedback information were able to learn how to dampen their cardiac response to aerobic exercise – in this case cycling and uphill walking – relative to people who were doing exercise. There’s been some reports done in exercise and sports science reviews on the biofeedback and self-regulation. In the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, and in all the studies subjects who were given biofeedback information were able to learn how to dampen their cardiac response to aerobic exercise – in this case cycling and uphill walking – relative to people who were doing exercise but who weren’t doing the biofeedback. Now, this was all at fairly low intensities but there is a researcher named Hatfield who in Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise tried out biofeedback on the breathing rates to teach athletes to inhale less air per minute running at fast speeds, heart rates of 160 and 170 on the treadmill. The runners that were given biofeedback were actually able to breathe less than when they ran without the biofeedback. Then there was another study done in Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise where the athletes were actually using a technique called “centering” which means they emphasized abdominal breathing, deep abdominal breathing like what you’d learn in yoga and the use of words to help them to relax and in this study they measured breathing, heart rate and oxygen consumption, and again in this study, the runners were able to reduce the amount of oxygen that they used while running. So, it’s obviously got a lot of promise. A lot of us don’t really have access to a laboratory that’s full of everything that we could use for biofeedback training. So, for example, one of the things that you can do to get some of these benefits if you don’t want to engage in biofeedback would be to focus on deep breathing, using yoga – and we’ll talk about yoga in just a second – focus your attention on your center of gravity which is just behind your belly button and then make sure that all of these muscles around your center of gravity are very, very relaxed as you’re breathing and you want to teach yourself to do that while sitting and standing and eventually you want to try it while you are running or exercising. So, I think it could be very helpful for you and I actually do use visualization and relaxation in my training.
An interesting related question from Patty.
Patty asks: What are your thoughts on doing bikram yoga occasionally while training for Ironman?
Ben answers: Well, for those of you who don’t know what this style of yoga is – the bikram – I don’t even know if I’m pronouncing it correctly. It could be bikram or bi-kram, but it’s hot yoga and basically you’re doing yoga sessions of anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes and you’re doing it in a room that’s typically above 100 degrees with a decent level of humidity. Humidity of at least 40%, and you’re doing a lot of the same type of moves that you’d do in a normal yoga class and some ibkram yoga classes that you do in a gym are just regular yoga with the heat turned on high. Can it teach your body to heat acclimatize? Absolutely. The first time I did Ironman Hawaii, I did four months of it leading up to the race and I felt fine as far as the heat was concerned. Can it help your body to heat acclimatize without putting the same stresses on it as far as going out and running outside in the hot afternoon? Again, absolutely. I’m a big fan of it. I would just caution you that just like any form of static stretching, yoga decreases the force production capabilities of a muscle. So, you wouldn’t want to precede a workout with any type of yoga. You’d want to save the yoga for a time when you’re not going to be engaging in a swim session or a bike session or a run session or a lifting session. In that case, it could definitely help you out. So, good question.
Anonymous asks:Are there any advantages or disadvantages to ending a shower after a workout with cold water? Would this have a negative effect on metabolism?
Ben answers: Well, as I mentioned many times on this podcast about hot, cold contrast where you turn the water hot and then cold as well as just showering in cold water can help to flush the inflammation from a muscle if you exercise. So, yeah it can be helpful from a recovery standpoint. From a metabolic standpoint, what research tells us is that something as simple as air conditioning can bump up the metabolism. Any time you put yourself in a situation where your body needs to be creating heat in order to maintain normal body temperature, your metabolism is going to increase. So, you could give your metabolism – I talk about this in my book 100 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism at 100waystoboostyourmetabolism.com – you can actually give your body a little bit of a metabolic boost in the morning by taking a cold shower. So, it’s not just after a workout that it would actually not have a negative effect on your metabolism, but actually a positive effect on your metabolism.
A question comes in via Twitter officialdilo.
Officialdilo asks: What are your best tips for my first open water swim? How to deal with the wetsuit and other competitors?
Ben answers: In an open water swim, you’re going to simply need to be prepared for the fact that you’re going to be bumping shoulders with a lot of people and getting bumped around quite a bit. So, you need to put yourself in a situation in your practice sessions leading up to that open water swim where you can for example, join a master’s swim class and do it with a lot of other people in your lane so you’re having to fight other people and get used to swimming relaxed while having other people invading your space. Know that that’s going to happen and don’t freak out when it happens in the race. Make sure that you get used to swimming in your wetsuit as your lungs begin to expand and adrenaline takes over, a lot of times that wetsuit can begin to feel very tight. Your breathing can begin to feel very restricted and if you panic, that’s going to happen to an even greater extent so practice, practice, practice in your wetsuit. Then finally, make sure that you get out in the open water preferably with a partner and get some open water swims in. I spend a good deal of the hour long audios that I put out in my Triathllon Dominator package talking about the mental approach and the open water swimming and I’d definitely go back and listen to some of those audios or get your hands on the Triathlon Dominator package at triathlondominator.com if you haven’t yet. So good question.
Mike asks: I was wondering how much protein I should be trying to eat each day if I’m training for an endurance event such as a half-marathon or a century bike ride. Everytime I walk into a GNC, some weightlifter tells me that it should be one gram of protein for every pound of body weight. That seems like too much to me. I weigh 165 pounds and I eat 2300 to 3300 calories per day.”
It really depends. I’m a big fan and I did this with Bioletics of getting your body type tested and getting your metabolism tested and figuring out whether you’re a protein type or a carb type. So that’s going to have a great degree of influence on my response to this question. But ultimately what it comes down to is that your protein intake is probably going to come out to 25 to 30% of your daily calorie intake. That’s just a general healthy number to shoot for, for a lot of endurance athletes. But if you’re a protein type it may be higher than that. It may be closer to 40 to 45% as far as the whole protein intake goes. So, it might be a good idea for you to get tested. One gram of protein for every pound of body weight is something that is reasonable for an athlete that’s working out on a daily basis, tearing up their muscles and that 0.8 to 1.0 gram per pound of body weight – I believe it comes out to about 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight, somewhere up around there. But, basically the problem is that if you’re trying to get your protein from a place like the GNC that you’re walking into, you’re getting protein that’s adulterated with all sorts of chemicals and preservatives and artificial sweeteners and you want to choose as much as possible your proteins from more adulterated, whole, animal sources and in some cases dairy sources to a limited extent if you’re vegan or vegetarian. The hemp and the pea and the protein and the rice protein sources and also make sure that you know that regardless of how much protein that you’re getting in, you also need to remember that a lot of the amino acids in that protein may not be getting absorbed ideally. So, it is ideal, no matter how much protein that you’re taking in to make sure that you’re getting some type of amino acid supplement along with those. Like a powder or a capsule based amino acid supplement that you can add in to your daily protein and protein powder intake.
Gabe asks: I was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It has helped to answer many health questions that had baffled me for a few years. I reviewed podcasts at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com with Roby Mitchell on this podcast. I’ve gone to his Web site but he isn’t accepting new patients. My local doctor is just prescribing the topical synthroids, synthetic T4. Any thoughts on what you would do from here?
Ben answers: I don’t know how large the area is that you’re in Gabe, but yeah we have talked about hypothyroidism and go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, do a search for “thyroid” and there’s ton of material I’ve covered on this subject. But if you’re having trouble in your local area, you’ve got a couple options. One, you can find a new doctor. I mentioned this in a podcast a couple of weeks ago, one source you can go to is a Web site that gives you a list of a lot of doctors who will employ natural methods and that is acam.org. So I’d check out that Web site to look for a physician in your area and of course screen that physician by talking to people, this may sound silly but it actually is getting more cred when it comes to screening healthcare professionals, let’s go to angieslist.com and go to yelp.com and see what people are saying about that doctor that you’ve chosen. If you really wanted to take issues into your own hands, you could from a Canadian or an international pharmacy, try and get your hands on an armor thyroid type of supplement. Try and get your hands on a thyropack. Get some iodine and begin to do some self-treatment, but if it’s not going in with testing, you’re totally shooting in the dark. If it were me, I would – I live in Spokane, I’m five hours from Seattle, if I couldn’t find someone in Spokane who was willing to work with me on my hypothyroid condition, I’d be driving five hours to Seattle before I start to order supplements form international pharmacies and try to take things into my own hands. Because that can be very difficult to do. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you’re doing a lot of testing hand in hand with it. So I would really go the route of looking for a doctor as much as possible, in your local area or within driving distance of your local area. Remember that a lot of tests might be able to be done via mail and you might not have to be doing weekly visits to your doctor’s clinic for example.
MikeOneshot asks:What’s your take on the Powerbreathe Ironman Plus? I don’t have asthma but someone that does says it might help them.
Well believe it or not this Powerbreathe Plus which is a device – it’s an inspiratory muscle training device that you breathe in and out of – it essentially has a flow valve in it that makes your breathing take place against resistance both when you inspire and when you expire, and so it basically trains your muscles to become more strong. It’s like weight lifting for your lung muscles. In the trials, it’s actually improved swimming performance, it’s improved cycling performance, it’s improved sprint and running performance, it’s reduced lactic acid formation, reduced the rating of perceived exertion or pain during exercise sessions after somoene has trained with one of these things. I personally don’t use one. Probably just because I haven’t added that to my protocol. But it’s something that you could use for example, if you have a commute and you’re stuck in traffic. You could do inspiratory muscle breathing and be working your lung muscles out while you’re sitting in your car, making sure you follow all the laws of your local state and don’t hyperventilate and pass out in your car. But it’s something that would be quite convenient for lung muscle training and breathing training. Especially if you have issues with breathing. If you have asthma, from a clinical perspective, I don’t know if it’s actually indicated to assist with asthma. I haven’t seen any studies that have been done for it to control a disease or condition, but just in a normal healthy population, it actually has some decent research behind it that shows it could help out a little bit. It’s called a Powerbreathe. I’m not sponsored by them or anything, but it does have some decent research behind it. It’s called a Power Breather. There’s a few different versions of it, and I will put a link in the Shownotes to this Powerbreathe inspiratory muscle trainer that basically looks almost like a breathalyzer device. Not that I would know what a breathalyzer looks like.
Ben asks: What advice can you give someone turning to running after a lumbar disc bulge or herniation? Have you come across any information whether or not running increases your risk of disc or low back related issues? How about running and long term issues such as arthritis?
Ben answers: Well there have been some studies that have looked at disc degeneration and it actually is significantly more common in elite athletes compared with non athletes. About 75% of elite athletes who are exercising a lot get problems with disc degeneration compared with the non athlete population who is usually at about 30 to 35%. It’s also more common in adults than in younger folks. Now, what happens is each of your vertebrae have these discs, these cushioning discs in between them that are full of this gel-like substance. Then that gel is surrounded by these outer fibers that are cross linked. They’re like these collagen fibers that are cross linked and so this entire complex is your disc and it reduces or resists spinal compression. When you’re rotating, a lot of those fibers are at what’s called a mechanical disadvantage and what can happen is that the pressure inside that can increase, especially when you’re in a combination of flexion which means your spine is bent or rotation, which means your twisting and then compression. So a lot of times, impact-based activities like football or wrestling can cause this. Anything where you’re striking an object while you’re bent over twisting, like tennis or golf can cause this as well. In running, technically you’re striking the ground and your waist does twist, your back does twist as you strike the ground. You are slightly bent over and so the lumbar disc issue is something that can be related to running as well. Actually, believe it or not –cycling – if your seat position isn’t set up properly, that can also lead to disc herniation, if your seat is really putting you into a lot of flexion while you’re on the bike. Obviously softer running surfaces, and make sure that you’re using the correct shoe can help out a little bit with that. But ultimately to answer your question, yes, running will increase your risk.
You also ask about arthritis. Whether running is going to increase your risk of arthritis, and the answer to that is no. For a long time people thought that running would increase your risk of arthritis, but there’s a very recent long term study that they did over at Stanford with about 1,000 runners and of course they had a control group – non runners – and nobody had arthritis when it began but they studided them over the next two decades and they found that runners knees were more or less healthy than nonrunners’ knees. These are runners who average – some would average 200 miles a year, some would average 2,000 miles a year. Basically, there was no difference in terms of arthritic symptoms and the runners actually had a 39% more death rate and less physical disability than the nonrunners, so it actually gave them a step up in life. There was another study done on over 1,000 elderly individuals who were exercising vigorously and the elderly individuals actually had thicker and healthier knee cartilage than the people who were not exercising. That’s probably because of increased blood flow. So, no. There’s no evidence that running is actually going to increase your risk of osteoarthritis. In an autoimmune disease like rheumatory arthritis, it might be a different issue if you’re already at risk for arthritis, but ultimately the answer is no on arthritis, but yes on disc and low back pain when it comes to running. So hopefully that helps you make your decision about getting back to running. If I were you, I’d think about getting back into it, but I’d be doing almost all my running on soft surfaces and I really wouldn’t go after marathoning. I’d stick to the shorter distances like 5ks and 10ks if you really wanted to protected your lower back.
Now listener Mike has a long question but essentially what it comes down to is he’s lost a lot of weight and he says that his leg strength seems to be (learning) him in his triathlon training.
Mike asks: I have great cardio fitness with a VO2 max of 66 and a resting heart rate of 35, but my bike functional threshold power (which is basically like the threshold maximum power that Mike could hold for around an hour – he says it’s about 235 which gives him a power to weight ratio of 2.9 watts per kilogram.)
Ben answers: I agree Mike, that’s a little bit low. To put that in perspective for you guys… guys in the Tour de France, the largest power that they’re putting out is 6 to 6.2 watts per kilogram and Mike is at less than half that for his functional threshold power. So he says he’s been trying to address this by doing intervals at 90 to 100% of functional threshold power for 10 to 20 minutes one to two times a week. It helps but I’m wondering if there’s more I could be doing as the improvement is very slowgoing.
Well, here are my thoughts for you Mike. The first is that if you just want to improve your ability to ride for a long time, you’re doing the right thing. You’re riding it close to your threshold power and you’re doing it in long intervals. That’s the way to improve your tolerance to lactic acid and improve your ability to bike for a long time and improve that functional threshold power. But if you want to improve your maximum power and be able to recruit more muscle fibers and get a little bit more power even at those lower power intensities, you need to be including some VO2 max type of intervals in your training as well. These would be anywhere from 15 second to 2 minute long intervals that are very short, very powerful, have full recovery periods like a three to one or four to one rest to work ratio and are done at a very high intensity. What happens is that when you do these, your power at your lower speeds can actually improve. The same goes for running. If you’re a slow runner and you want to get faster, including some turnover and some sprint and some steep hill short sprint repeats can help you even when it comes to running the longer distances. It looks like that’s a hole in your program if you’re not doing it yet – would be those short explosive sprints on the bike of anywhere from 15 seconds to two minutes. So an eight week program might start you off at 20 by 15 second sprints and move you up in time, down in reps that by the end of it you might be doing six 2 minute sprints at your max all out pace.
Folks, I know that some of you know this but I’m a coach. This is what I do. I write out programs for athletes to address weaknesses, and a lot of people ask me, “How can I be coached by you?” Go to www.pacificfit.net. That’s Pacific like the ocean. Fit like fitness.net. Pacificfit.net. The athletes that I coach right now have unlimited email access to me. They’ve got phone access to me. I write out their programs on a daily basis. We talk back and forth about their training program, so if you want to pick me up as a coach – I try to keep the price for coaching very competitive based on what other people are charging for coaching. I’ll tell you right now, it costs $250 a month to have me as a running coach or as a triathlon coach or as a cycling coach. Again, you can do that over at www.pacificfit.net. I’ll put a link to that and everything else that I talked about so far today in the Shownotes.
Kim asks: I’ve been taking a magensium supplement called Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality. It is in powder form that dissolves in water and I really do feel calm and sleep much better when I take it. The problem is I have an ulcer and it really aggravates my ulcer. It even causes cramping and pain in my stomach right under my sternum. Can you recommmend any other types of calcium that won’t upset an ulcer?
Ben answers: Well Kim, first of all, the Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality product is helping you to sleep not because of the calcium, but because of the magnesium. So what I would want to be recommending you is a type of magnesium that wouldn’t upset an ulcer, where a lot of the times the calcium ratio is a bit too high. So it’s really a magnesium supplement that you’d be looking for and my recommendation to you would be first of all, you have an ulcer and it’s probably the citric acid that’s in that natural powder that could be aggravating your ulcer. I do like that product. I use it myself. But if you have an ulcer, yeah the extra acid, the citric acid could affect that and aggravate that ulcer. I would look at a topical magnesium supplement. My wife and I use one almost every night before bed. Spray it on the legs after a workout. I use it on the traps and the neck and the stress areas before bed. There’s one that I use that’s called Ancient Minerals Topical Magnesium. I will put a link to that in the Shownotes for you, but it’s called Ancient Minerals Topical Magnesium, and that would be the one that actually is absorbed in the skin and you don’t take it orally.
Then Kim also has a follow up question.
Kim asks: What can I do for calf cramps when I’m swimming? I’ve been swimming 300 meters three time a week and just recently started getting cramps. I used to alternate run and swim days and just recently combined them so I run first, then swim on the same day twice a week, and I know that anybody out there who runs and then swims is chuckling right now because the same thing has happened to you. Your calves just go berserk.
Ben answers: Yes, you can stretch your calves. I would do so liberally. You want to make sure that you rehydrate, but rehydrating isn’t enough. That topical magnesium that I just talked about, if you rub that on your calves, that can actually help quite a bit as well as electrolyte capsules or an electrolyte tablet that you dissolve in water like (Noon), popping a couple of those but making sure that you get your electrolytes back in as quickly as possible. You stretch a ton before you get into the water and then you make sure that you’re not in kicking mode. A lot of times, runners hop into the water and they keep on running while they’re swimming. Their knees bend and their feet are all over the place. Make sure that you’re kind of shutting off the lower body a little bit and focusing on the hip rotation and you’re stroking the water, not kicking quite as much. That will help out quite a bit as well. But that is always going to be a bane when you run and then swim after. You always risk cramping especially when you’re doing it for any more than about 1,000 yards.
We’ve got a call in question from listener Jeff.
Jeff asks: Hey Ben, this is Jeff in Tampa. I just started taking an indoor cycling or a spin class and I’m curious as a former spinning instructor, what are some realistic goals for improvement in a spin class? Thank you very much. I enjoy the show and all the best to you. Bye.
Ben answers: Well, I thought this was an interesting question because it’s very vague. Improvement in a spin class. What are you doing it for? To lose weight? To get faster on the bike? To become stronger in your legs? So it’s tough to answer but here are some ways if I started taking a spin class that I would measure whether or not it was working well for me and how my improvement was. The first thing I would do is I would pay clsoe attention to the resistance on the spin bike. So, you’ve usually got a resistance knob or resistance measurement. If it’s digital, you have quite an advantage here, but you need to be able to quantify the resistance and as you’re doing the class each week, your ability to push a slightly higher wattage should go up. Ideally, at your maximum pace and all out pace, you should be able to add anywhere from five to ten watts. So you’re actually pushing more watts as you go and eventually that will taper off but you should be able to add about 15 to 20% in terms of the maximum wattage that you can actually push out. So, if you can do that say 100 watts going at an all out pace, you should be able to get that up to 120. If you’re doing 200, you should be able to get that up to 240. The other thing that I would focus on from a cardiovascular perspective is measure your resting morning heart rate and your resting heart rate should be dropping showing that you’re getting a cardiovascular response to that cardiovascular exercise that you’ve been doing. I would pay attention to of course your soreness after class as an indication that your muscles are not getting as torn up as they used to be and are getting used to the motion of spinning. But ultimately, it’s a really tough question. Whenever you’re taking up a class or a new sport, you always have to ask yourself why am I doing it? What are the goals I’m going after? If you can write those goals down and then you can quantify those goals as something that you can achieve, whether it be weight loss in pounds, improvement in power on the bicycle, drop in resting heart rate, anything, then you’re going to be able to motivate yourself a lot better and know more about what’s happening in your body rather than exercising blindly.
Then we have one final question from listener Doug.
Doug asks: Hello Ben, my name is Doug and I’m from Oxbridge, Ontario, Canada. My wife and I started listening to your Get Fit Guy Quick and Dirty Tips at the Ben Greenfield podcast a couple of months ago and we really enjoy it. They’re most informative. I have two questions. I have been competing for many years in various sports from equestrian events to marathons and triathlons. In fact for my 60th birthday present, I was at a triathlon in the (wine) capital of Canada, British Columbia and the whole family competed. Me, my wife, our kids, my sister, her husband, nephews, girlfriends. How cool is that? It was just the best present ever. Question one, I have been dealing with lower back problems for some time and have been diagnosed with spinalstinosis. Old age. Wear and tear in C1, C2 and L3,4 and 5. My options for relief are physical activity, medication and surgery. And in my opinion two and three are out. I started a very disciplined stretching and bending, flexion routine. But I would like to know if you have any other suggestions or recommendations. As well, your episode 107 is interesting because I am working on race walking since now running is out.
Question number two, I am a mucus generator during races to the annoyance of the other competitors. I have tried to eliminate mucus generating foods such as dairy products and I have tried using expectorants with minimal results. For the benefits of others, what I would suggest as opposed to sniffing, harking and snorting? Thanks in advance for your response and keep up the great work.
Ben answers: Alright Doug, let’s tackle the first part of your question first. You ask about the spinalstinosis. Basically spinalstinosis is a little bit different than the disc bulging that I talked about earlier. Basically spinalstinosis is like a nerve root irritation. It’s a compression in your spine and it’s caused by a constriction or a narrowing of the passages that the nerves go through. Essentially what actually helps out and what a lot of spine specialists and physical therapists will have people with spinalstinosis do is to use a forward bending motion – what’s called a flexion motion of the spine to actually increase the amount of room in the spinal canal and that decompresses some of those irritated nerves and resolves some of the pain. Now, in most cases I tell people that crunches aren’t really going to get you anywhere when it comes to abdominal strength and that back flexion can actually in the long term – and here’s kind of a paradox – result in some disc issues. But in your case, you do want to include at least a little bit of flexion to allow your spinal nerves to get some extra room. So one thing that you could do is a curl up or a reverse crunch or a V-up. One of those things that you could do is a superman or basically a trunk raise where you’re lying down on the ground lifting all four limbs off the ground where you lie down on the ground on your stomach. Another way to do it is to alternate limbs in a swimming type of motion. But flexing your spine and extending your spine is going to help a little bit to open up some of the areas in the spine that will allow that nerve to decompress. Flexibility exercises are also going to be important to allow your pelvis and your spine to move through the normal movement. That will include everything from doing hamstring stretches to doing something standing backward bends. Making sure that you do some quadricep stretches, some hip flexor stretches. But make sure that everyday, you’re including a combination of stretching and then flexion at the spine and make sure that the exercises that you’re doing are also pain free, and that will help out quite a bit.
Now as far as your question as far as generating excessive mucus when you’re exercising – that’s really interesting. It was interesting too that you mentioned that you’re avoiding dairy. First of all let me say that any food that you’re very sensitive too from an allergy standpoint or an intolerance standpoint can cause that excessive mucus production, because mucus is your body’s natural defense mechanism so your body creates a bunch of mucus to get rid of germs, bacteria or any other foreign particles. Part of that can be a response to food allergies or food intolerances. So in addition to dairy, I would take a look at grains, gluten containing products. I would take a look at soy containing products. Take a look at some red meat which can also cause that and begin to eliminate some foods and see what happens as you do that. Now, there are also some natural things that you can do. You can try a saline solution to actually clear up your sinuses and clean your sinuses out. I have something that I use occasionally called a Netty Pot which is basically a pot that allows you to snort a saline solution into your nasal passages to clear them out and get some of the mucus out of them. Steaming can help quite a bit where you make yourself a cup of tea, add some lemon juice to it, add a bit of honey to it because honey is also a bacteria or an anti-bacterial and steaming – the actual process of sipping and allowing that steam to open up your clogged packages can be quite effective as well. I recommend that you use a peppermint or a eucalyptus or a lemon tea for something like that. You can do that before an exercise session or after an exercise session to thin up the mucus. There’s an over the counter mucus that you can use called Mucusnax that can also thin the mucus quite a bit as well. If you’re in a really dry area, you can end up getting a nose bleed and dry throat as you take something like that, but you definitely wouldn’t be dealing with the mucus quite as much. So using the steaming and opening up the sinuses with something like a Netty. Avoiding some of the red meats and the gluten and the soy and potential food allergy triggers in addition to the dairy can help out quite a bit and then there are some vitamins that are supposedly supposed to help with mucus build up. I’m not sure that I would anticipate you seeing any great degree of success from them but vitamin E and vitamin C along with zinc and cod liver oil are four of the things that are traditionally used in alternative health for excessive mucus build up. So hope that helps you out a little bit and that actually wraps up our questions for this week.
So we have got an interview coming up on muscle imbalances. And you need to know that after we did this interview, Rick wrote to me and he wants to give anybody who listens to this show a huge discount on this pretty impressive set of muscle imbalance books and CDs that he has. So I’m going to put a link in the Shownotes and if you’re a personal trainer or fitness professional, a physician, anyone who has clients who has muscle imbalances; Rick has worked with some of the leading guys in the country to produce this product on muscle imbalances. So after you hear him talk about muscle imbalances, what they are, give you some tips; make sure you visit the Shownotes for episode 108 and check out the special deal. Rick is only really offering the deal for the next three days. So 72 hours after you hear this podcast if you hear it on Wednesday when it comes out. Essentially, all of it shuts down on Saturday in terms of the deal that he’s going to be giving to listeners. So make sure you check out his program Muscle Imbalances Revealed. I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners. This is Ben Greenfield and I’m here with Rick Kaselj. Rick is a fitness professional. He’s been a fitness professional for a long time. Well over a decade, and he actually specializes in exercise rehabilitation. He’s actually known as an expert – not just by the clients that he works with but also by fitness professionals worldwide as somebody who really knows a lot about some topics that we don’t think about enough that he’s going to remind us about today, and this is going to be an interview that if you’re a fitness professional, a professional trainer, a physician, a massage therapise, a chiropractic physician, you’re not going to want to miss what Rick is about to say. Even if you want to self-treat yourself or you yourself struggle with injuries with some of the imbalances that Rick will address today, you’ll also want to listen in. Rick’s given over 200 presentations to 4,000 fitness professionals and consumers across Canada and he’s worked in rehabilitation centers, physiotherapy clinics, fitness clubs. He’s got a Masters of Science degree that specifically focuses on corrective exercise and therapeutic exercise and you’re going to learn all about Rick and the unique healing methods that he uses and teaches today. Rick, thank you for coming on the call.
Rick Kaselj: No problem, you’re welcome.
Ben: The best place to start is to talk about this particular problem that you find, that you’ve told me about in the athletes and the people that you work with and that you treat with, and it has to do with the muscles. What exactly is the problem here? The underlying problem that you’re seeing in most of the injuries that you treat?
Rick Kaselj: I’ve seen that people that I end up training and come to see me, they end up having muscle imbalances. So it could be the general person that I’m training or fitness goals for weight loss goals – a lot of times what I’ll see is muscle imbalances within them that are holding them back from reaching their fitness goals. A lot of times when I have clients that I’m rehabing – I’m also doing post-injury training. A lot of times what the injury will end up causing is muscle imbalances around the injury and then lastly, let’s say for the older client whose goal is to stay active and enjoy life – a lot of times I need to address muscle imbalance in order to prevent them from having an injury. A lot of times with the older adult, they’ll end up getting nagging aches and pains and that ends up impeding them in doing the things they enjoy.
Ben: Now, can you explain exactly what a muscle imbalance is?
Rick Kaselj: So a muscle imbalance is the muscles around the joint or an area of the body are not working together to help the joint function properly. Now, that’s the little definition I have but expanding on it more, if we look at a joint – we can look at say the hip. So basically you have muscles in the front of the hip and the back of the hip. A lot of times what will happen is the muscles in the front will end up getting too strong. They’ll end up getting shorter, they’ll end up getting tighter. They’ll end up dominating when it comes to activation compared to the muscles in the back. So the muscles in the back won’t activate properly. They’ll end up losing their endurance. They’ll end up losing their strength. So there ends up being a muscle imbalance. One is doing too much work – the muscles in the front compared to the muscles in the back and that ends up increasing – it slows down recovery from injury. It increases your risk of injury and it can impede your performance in helping you reach your fitness goals.
Ben: So we’re not just talking about like a nagging ache and pain. When someone’s muscle is imbalanced it goes beyond just pain? There’s a functional issue?
Rick Kaselj: Yes. Yes. It’s not necessarily pain or an injury. A lot of times prior to that, they could have a muscle imbalance which ends up affecting them getting maximal results – let’s say they’re playing a specific sport or helping them reach their fitness goals.
Ben: So you could have a muscle imbalance and not even know about it.
Rick Kaselj: Yes.
Ben: So in terms of the type of muscle imbalances that you see in your practice – you mentioned this issue with the hips – but what are some common other imbalances that you see in your practice that people frequently come to you with?
Rick Kaselj: Yeah, probably a big one that I see that’s not often addressed by health care professionals or fitness professionals is ankle mobility. What I’m talking about there is the ankle joint moving properly. So a lot of times due to ankle sprains when you were younger playing soccer or in your high school sports, that ends up affecting how your ankle joint ends up working and what ends up happening is the joints above end up picking up more of the movement since you don’t have as good movement in the ankle joint. So ankle mobility, I find ends up, being a big problem.
Ben: What else?
Rick Kaselj: Other ones are like knee stability, I often see. You’ve got the large muscle groups around the knee that help it flex and extend, but then also you’ve got muscles around the knee that help stabilize the knee when it comes to side to side and twisting movements. If we keep moving up and we go into the hip, it starts getting more complicated what I end up seeing in the hip. A lot of times, it ends up being mobility issues. So having ideal movement in that hip joint. You end up having poor stability in the hip. So really a big thing with the hip is it’s working in all different planes of movement and a lot of times there ends up being poor stability in one or more of those planes of movement which ends up putting greater stress on the muscle, greater stress on the joint, increases your risk of injury. Then the third thing that often happens in the hip is you end up having poor activation. So the muscle that ends up really stabilizing that hip joint aren’t activating properly or turning on at the right time.
Rick Kaselj: We’re getting to the shoulder. Now the shoulder ends up being interesting. Usually you end up having good mobility in the shoulder, but a lot of times you end up having poor range of motion in specific planes of movement. A lot of times that ends up being because of a specific muscle imbalance. So the common one is muscles in the front of the shoulder might end up being overactive. They might end up being short compared to the muscles in the back, the shoulder blade muscles, the scapular muscles, the rotator cuff muscles. So a lot of times what that ends up doing is changing the position of the shoulder, which ends up putting greater strain on the rotator cuff. It ends up putting greater strain on the scapular muscles, and since those rotator cuff and scapular muscles are a lot smaller, they can only handle so much load and eventually they’ll give way and lead to an injury in the shoulder.
Ben: So let’s say that somebody’s listening in and they’ve either got a client who they think might have some of these problems or they think they themselves might have some of these problems; can you walk us through the process of identifying and then diagnosing a muscle imbalance?
Rick Kaselj: The first step is definitely identification. I kind of stay away from the word assessment because I’m not really quantifying things. If I’m measuring things to specific degrees or inches, okay, I can call it an assessment. But a lot of times I’m just looking at people. How they are statically, how the joint ends up moving, how they are when it comes to them doing specific movements or exercises and going a little deeper – identification would be I’m going to look at what their posture is, how they are standing up or how they are in sitting and looking at the different joints of the body from the side, to the front to get an idea if I can see a muscle imbalance. Sometimes I can observe that and identify it. Other things I’m going to look at is if something pops up from looking at their posture, I’m going to end up taking that joint through a range of motion. Getting them to move that joint and seeing if there is any change in the range of motion. Is there too much range of motion? Or is there not enough range of motion? That’s going to provide me more information if there’s a muscle imbalance at that joint. What I look at when it comes to activation, we talked about when it comes to the hip. A common problem is say with runners – runners are a real good example when it comes to activation. Say you’re running in the (saginal) plane or forward plane, forward and back plane. You need stability in the side to side plane. So the frontal plane. A lot of times with runners, if they’ve had an injury, they might end up having poor activation and stability in that frontal side to side plane which ends up putting greater stress on the joint, increases the risk of injury and other muscles are working really hard to pick up the slack for that improper movement and promoting more of a muscle imbalance. Then I’m going to end up looking at strength to see if they have proper strength around the joint from what I’ve identified and then the last component is looking at things functionally. What that probably more means is I’m going to get them moving and see how they are, let’s say bilateral, so doing movements with both legs and then getting them to move towards one leg. So a lot of times when we’re moving around or definitely walking, it’s one legged movements that we’re doing. It’s almost lunge after lunge after lunge. It’s not always necessarily two feet beside each other. That’s the stepping process that I end up taking people through. Sometimes you might see something that doesn’t look normal or right and then you take them through those steps and it actually wasn’t there that was the issue, it’s somewhere else.
Ben: Now once you’ve actually diagnosed through assessing the posture and looking at someone and doing some of the things you just finished talking about, if you find that muscle imbalance – you mentioned some parts being strong and some parts being tight or some parts being weak and some parts being tight – can you just stretch a tight muscle and strengthen a weak muscle? For example, stretch the hamstrings and strengthen quadriceps to correct an imbalance or does the actualy treatment of the imbalance go deeper than that?
Rick Kaselj: Yes and no. You’re going to get some benefit when it comes to stretching and strengthening. But in order to get better results, faster results you need to do more than just that. You need to look at the mobility. Is there proper movement within the joint. So doing exercises that help improve that mobility of the ankle or the hip. Not just necessarily stretching the muscles around the hip or the ankle joint. You want to look at the activation. Are those muscles that are really tight up against the joint, are they turning on and stabilising that joint while you’re moving, and the example once again is the running or the walking, having the core stability of the hip muscles turning on and stabilizing that hip in that side to side movement while you’re walking in the forward and back. Then the big thing that I find is the endurance side of things. Ben, you probably know about this in training your athletes, and it’s someone might be great in doing a 10k or 5k, but when they start doing more like a half marathon and you’re really pushing the limits of the endurance side and especially the endurance side of the muscle, things might end up breaking down. A lot of times with people, it might not be at 10 kilometers that they’re at, but after they end up doing the movement for let’s say 30 seconds or a minute then that muscle lacks the endurance to go any further so it slacks off and their muscles have to end up working harder to pick up the slack.
Ben: Interesting. So could it be suggested that during chronic repetitive motions that maybe a muscle imbalance starts off for something like a marathon, 13 miles in, it’s not an issue. Eighteen miles in, it’s becoming more of an issue and by the 20 mile mark it could be literally making or breaking you?
Rick Kaselj: Definitely. Definitely. It definitely can end up affecting you because the muscle imbalances that you presently have might not play a huge role in the start but then as you start going farther on and working hard and really pushing that endurance side of things, the muscle imbalances you have are going to be a greater and greater issue as the race goes on or as the farther you go on.
Ben: Now, you have a Web site in which you actually talk to fitness professionals and tell them about the different types or the sections of muscle imbalances, and I counted seven on that Web site and I will put a link to that Web site in the Shownotes for people but you talk about those sections of muscle imbalances such as lower body assessment, lower body exercises. Basically it’s almost like you have a different section for each type of muscular imbalance problem that a fitness professional or rehabilitation professional or someone treating their own body might run into. Can you walk us through a basic overview of each of those sections?
Rick Kaselj: Yeah, definitely. I kind of set them up in order of what I see being the greatest issues when it comes to muscle imbalances like component one or module one looks at the hip and the pelvis. A lot of times the hip and the pelvis are overlooked. People might have knee or ankle pain or irritation or it doesn’t feel right. A lot of times they need to go up and look at the hip and see if there is a mobility problem or an activation problem or endurance problem in that hip. If we go into component two or module two, we start looking at mobility and I find that this is something that is overlooked drastically when it comes to designing exercise programs. At the end of one’s workout we focus on stretching but we need to focus on a lot more and mobility is one. Making sure that the joints within our body are moving properly so joints above and below don’t end up picking up that slack for the range of motion or movement that’s lost. So I talked about it. A lot of times when it comes to the knee, the knee ends up lacking stability. It’s moving fine forward and back but it will end up lacking stability side to side and in twisting movements. So in module three, we end up addressing that and going through a bit of an assessment and exercises when it relates to that. Then, looking at more assessment side of things and exercise side of things, we go through in component four, we go through identifying muscle imbalance in the body. In the next component we talk about specific exercises that overall end up addressing muscle imbalances in the body. Then in component six, we end up talking about the shoulder because the shoulder ends up having a number of muscle imbalances occuring. So we end up talking about how to identify muscle imbalances in the shoulder, exercises to do when it relates to muscle imbalances in the shoulder. Then in component seven, just like the mobility side I find in component seven it’s another thing that’s really not talked about in the fitness industry, is (fascha) and how (fascha) ends up playing a role when it comes to muscle imbalances and it’s something that you need to consider and be aware of when you’re designing your exercising program or when you see a muscle imbalance, you need to consider it when it comes to the exercise, prescription side of things. Those are the seven components.
Ben: Absolutely. I’m actually at your Web site right now and again I will put a link for that for people in the Shownotes and I see each section. So it’s lower body assessment, lower body exercise, lower body hip, lower body knee, upper body shoulder, upper body fasha and upper body mobility are each of those sections. Interesting. So as far as how people can actually take each of these sections – fitness professionals or someone wanting to know more about their own body can take each of these sections and learn to diagnose and correct muscle imbalances. For you yourself, did you pick this stuff up just through time in the trenches or are there clinics, conferences that people can go to? What’s the best way to actually learn more about muscle imbalances?
Rick Kaselj: The reason why I ended up creating this was I didn’t see anything out there where it related to it. I’d done my bachelor’s degree and I was getting some results when it came to my clients. I wanted to get more answers so I ended up doing my master’s degree and got a couple more answers from the master’s degree but what I ended up having to do was look for more information to get better results with my clients because I wasn’t getting the best results I wanted with my clients from textbook learning and the school learning and the conferences and the courses that I ended up attending. So I had to look outside of my industry and look in physical therapy and medicine and massage therapy and yoga and bring in principles from those different areas when it related to the muscle imbalance or prescription side of things. So it was a lot of taking courses outside of my industry, reading a variety of research articles in order to find what’s new and what’s cutting edge when it comes to muscle imbalances and then testing it out on my clients and on myself to see if I ended up getting better results and when I finally did, it ended up being a big thing – me addressing muscle imbalances. Because when I was just addressing cardiovascular, strength, flexibility – I was getting some results but there was more to it and I found that muscle imbalance was that missing piece to help my clients overcome their injury, bust through their fitness plateau or prevent them from gettin injured.
Ben: Gotcha. I’m looking at some of these programs, it’s kind of cool because for each of your components you’ve actually got a Webinar and a download for people to learn more about lower body hip, lower body knee, upper body fasha. But it looks like you’ve actually got pretty well known names giving these Webinars. I know that those people listening in might know some of these names. Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, Eric Beard, You, Kevin Yates, Dean Somerset. These are some big hitters in terms of rehabilitation. People who are on the cutting edge. You actually got these guys to come on and create these Webinars for each of the different components of muscle imbalance?
Rick Kaselj: Definitely, and as I was searching and putting things together and challenging my beliefs and discovering new things – as I saw where this information was coming from, I found that there was really no one person that knew everything when it came to muscle imbalances. So what I did was I went out there and sought out people that know a lot about muscle imbalance and got them to talk about muscle imbalances – their perspective on a specific area and hence it ended up being six people that we got together that would do a video Webinar and the audio with it, then there’s also presentation modes that you can follow along. They all end up providing their perspective. So it’s six people. The other thing that I really like is they’re all from a wide variety of different professions. So like I said, when i had to go out search out for these answers I had to go outside of my career or what I do in order to get more and more answers so it’s great to get different people from different professions. Mike Robertson is a strength coach, he focuses on performance. Bill Hartman is a physical therapist. He focuses on performance. Myself, I’m a personal trainer kinisieologist and I focus on the postinjury personal training. Kevin Yates who is a personal trainer that works in a physical therapy center helping people overcome their injury. Eric Beard does a lot of work when it comes to corrective exercise. He’s also a massage therapist. Then Dean Somerset is an exercise physiologist and he runs this program when it comes to helping people overcome their injuries with exercise. So it’s great to have the wide variety of people providing their perspective. But it all ends up fitting together well when it comes to muscle imbalances and having their perspective from all their different professions.
Ben: Gotcha. So in the Shownotes for those of you listening, I’ll put a link to Rick’s Web site which is a great place to go for the information on muscle imbalances and some of these resources that he’s put together. Now you also have a free report Rick. And I know that you’ve offered to give that to me to distribute to the listeners. But what exactly is in that free report that people are going to have access to as part of these Shownotes?
Rick Kaselj: It’s kind of me putting my philosophy on paper. So what it basically is kind of me explaining to you the key components of muscle imbalances and the acronym that I end up using is – taking yourself or your client from being imbalanced to balanced – so I look at the ten components that are involved in someone being imbalanced and what those ten components or the key one that you need to address when it comes to moving yourself or moving your client to being balanced when it relates to muscle imbalances. So, I go through each of those ten components. I talk about them and I know a number of the components aren’t talked about very much. I don’t see them when I go to conferences or present at conferences. I don’t hear many of the fitness representatives talking about that or even when I end up reading magazines or books, I don’t see them talking about it either. So there are some new concepts in there that have worked for me and have worked for my clients.
Ben: Yeah, I actually had a chance to thumb through it a little bit and there was some new stuff in there that I wasn’t familiar with in terms of things that I’ll start to implement in my training and with the clients that I work with. What I’ll do – I think it’s just a little over 40 pages, I will put that in the Shownotes. If you’re listening to this via iTunes, i’ll make sure it goes out automatically to you on your iTunes feed, so it should automatically get delivered to you. But if you want to grab it from the Shownotes just go to the Shownotes for this episode and you’ll be able to get that free report from Rick and also I’ll put a link to Rick’s Web site with the information on the muscle imbalances, the Webinars and basically what it boils down is that if your performance is not what you want it to be or your fitness is not waht you want it to be and you feel like something in your body is holding your back, something is just not quite right when it comes to the way your body is moving or feeling, muscle imbalances are most likely the culprit and Rick’s actually got a very comprehensive program for identifying, diagnosing and treating them. So thanks for the information that you shared with us today, Rick.
Rick Kaselj: Thank you very much. It’s excellent to be sharing. I think it’s great information and definitely check out the report. It’s 40 pages of me just sharing all my thoughts and ideas to kind of challenge some of the common ideas that are out there.
Ben: Yeah, and this is stuff – I know some of it gets complicated but that’s where this report would come in handy for you to review some of the information and also where Rick’s Web site where he explains it a little more will come in handy. So until next time, this is Rick and Ben from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com signing out.
Alright folks, remember Rick is offering a special deal on that Muscles Imbalances Revealed program and I will put a link to that in the Shownotes for episode 108 along with a link to everything that I talked about in this episode. Now, if you like this podcast, please go to iTunes, leave a ranking, leave a review, please be nice and be ready for an addition to the podcast starting next week, assuming we can get everything hashed out before then but it’s going to be a brand new podcast full of some things that are going to be super useful to you because the goal of this show is to bring as much value as possible to you whether you are a complete beginner when it comes to exercise or you’ve been doing this awhile and just want to get as many advantages as possible. So until next time, this is Ben Greenfield. I’ll be coming to you next week. I’m heading down to Portland to do the Portland triathlon. I’m going to be down at the Portland Triathalon. Look for me there. I’ll see you next week. To your health. Signing out.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net