Wednesday, April 10, 2013

11 Random Knowledge Bombs

1.  70% of the Immune System is in your gut

That's right 70%, that a whole heck of a lot.  If you want to stay healthy, then keep your gut healthy.


Consider taking a pro or prebiotic or start adding more probiotic rich foods.  Probiotics are bacteria aka "good bacteria".  You have roughly 100 TRILLION living bacteria in that old dumpster you call your stomach, and the more good bacteria you have the better your health.

So consider eating more foods such as greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or other fermented foods, and dark chocolate (were talking 80% cocoa plus).  When I lived in Austria, it presented me with the opportunity to eat a lot of 'Kraut (as it's known in the ghetto), and I freekin love that stuff.  If you've only ever had 'Kraut on a brat or hotdog, you're missing out, that stuff is good with any meat and is also good to throw on eggs, pizza, or just as a side dish.

2.  20% of energy expenditure during exercise is spent on brain activity

This means, do things that challenge yourself and in return you will challenge your brain.  Challenge your position, your movements, your speeds, your proprioception, your asymmetries.  Your brain is learning about itself during exercise, so teach it something!

While on this topic, please read this article on the importance of Physical Education and Physical Activity in Schools.  If you're in the fitness field/ PE educator, work with youth kids, or are a parent, then this topic is important, and this information needs to be spread.

3.  We are naturally asymmetrical

Everybody and their mother talks about how we need to balance out asymmetries, but we are naturally asymmetrical beings

     - We have a heart in our left upper chest cavity but nothing on the right
     - We have three lobes on our right lung and only two on the left
     - Our right diaphragm is 2/3's larger than the left and is supported by the liver.
     - Speaking of the liver, I don't believe there is one on our left side :)
     - Each hemisphere of the brain is responsible for different functions, and they are not identical
     - Most of us are left or right side (hand, foot, brain) dominant, not ambidextrous 
     - My left bicep is 14.31456 inches and my right is 14.52301 - OMG! I need to fix this NOW!!!


Many programs are set on finding and curing our asymmetries, but they never take a second to consider that some asymmetries are good and needed.  We must understand we will never be perfectly symmetrical and many of our asymmetries are necessary for athletic success and actually help us in sports.

So while it may important to close the gap between major asymmetries, we need to look and consider why some of the smaller asymmetries developed.  Most likely it's do to an adaptation to a sport, and that small asymmetry is benefiting performance, and you might do more harm than good in trying to correct that 3% difference between sides.

4.  Breathing is Important

Breathing is becoming a prominent training tool, and a point of attention to evaluate.  Diaphragmatic breathing is so important because of all it's connections and implications elsewhere in the body.  If the diaphragm doesn't do it's job properly the thoracic, lumbo-pelvic, cervical, so on and so forth will bear a brunt of the abuse from this loss in function.

In fact, we take between 20,000-22,000 breaths each day.  That's 20,000+ reps each day, and each rep plays a role in how the rest of our body functions and moves.  Imagine doing 20,000+ reps of squats!  You better believe the squat pattern is going to get engrained and how difficult breaking a poor squat pattern would be, plus your legs would be like sequoia tree trunks.  The same goes for your breath, you need to consciously think about activating the diaphragm and using your pelvic floor to get a full, deep belly breath.

Here are just a few ways breathing effects the body, and believe me, trying to wrap my brain around just how powerful proper breathing can be, is extremely difficult and I still don't understand it all.  Gonna need to take a PRI course and really learn more
  • If you’re locked into thoracic flexion, the odds of your breathing being affected is pretty high
  • If you don’t open your lungs adequately, your ability to extend your thoracic spine will be inhibited, which will affect scapular mechanics, shoulder mechanics, neck mechanics, and probably lead to some form of an upper body injury or another.
  • If your diaphragm isn’t working properly, it can affect your entire core stability, which could lead to low back injuries.  This lack of diaphragm function that doesn't allow your core to work optimally may not allow your hips to fire properly and thus limiting your strength/power (NOOO!!!)
  • Clavicular breathing is related and can actually increase stress.  It can also lead to tightness and inhibition of your neck, scalenes, and cervical spine.
  • If you can't breath right, who won't move right - I'm really sorry not being able to remember who I heard this from, but it hits the nail of the head

5.  80/20 Rule

Twenty percent of the things you do, account for 80 percent of the results.  Don't forget that!  Stick the the basics and be great at them.  This applies to in the weight room, nutrition, and life; save the gimics for the wannabe's.

6.  Play Multiple Sports

Kids need to play multiple sports.  I was going to go into greater detail about this, but decided to keep it simple.  Don't specialize before high school (and truly don't specialize in High School either), and play as many different sports as you can.  There is a whole bunch of research showing specialization at younger ages is leading to injury, overuse, burnout, decreased performance with age, and a higher percentage of drop-out.

7.  De-Clutter

This hits home for me right now, living in a foreign country with about 5 pairs of clothing, 3 pairs of shoes, no TV, no car, no couch, no living room, no desk, no smart phone, no microwave, no oven, limited language comprehension, and no junk.  Everything I'm living with fit into one suitcase and a small backpack, that's it.

You'd be amazed at how little you really need.  Here are two challenges for you

   1.  Go through your clothes and turn all your hangers the opposite direction (so the open end is facing you).  When you use a piece of clothing, put it back on the hanger but turn the hanger the normal way now (open end facing away from you).  After 6 months, take all the clothes on the hangers that haven't been switched and give them away or sell them. 

   2.  One day a week go without facebook, twitter, TV, email, or your phone (can keep it on you just in case of emergency).  You'll probably learn you are addicted to that stuff.  What can you do instead - read, go to a museum, explore the city you live in, exercise, write, play a board game, etc.  Get out and see the world a little bit, all that other stuff will still be there don't worry.

Here's a neat little TED video, oh by the way TED is awesome, start watching them!

8.  Daily Stress is Equivalent to Smoking 5 Cigarettes a Day

You need to find ways to reduce and relieve stress.  Everybody is different, so experiment with different approaches.  Movies, meditation, spend time with family, friends, be around young people, be around old people, exercise, walk your dog, do yoga, learn how to breath, cook, go to the gun range and get all Bruce Willis on that targets ass, etc.  These are all simple thing you can do to lower your stress.

9. Sitting Might Be Slowly Killing You

More and more research is starting to confirm what many coaches have preached for years, sitting is really bad for you. How about this little factoid
On average in the United States, people are sitting 9.3 hours a day as compared to sleeping only 7.7!

Some studies have shown that after 1 hour of sitting, enzymes that burn fat are reduced by 90%.  Prolonged sitting is being correlated with many health risks and shortend life span.  Basically what it boils down to is that sitting is an indication of exercise.  The more you sit, the less likely you are exercising; the less you exercise, the increased risk of health problems, and on and on.

Check out this Sitting Visual

So what can you do, MOVE!  Try kneeling instead of sitting, maybe get a stand-up desk, or a great tip from Dan John is to sit on the floor more.  By sitting on the floor you will naturally take up different positions and move more often.  Also research is showing that the ability to get off the ground is a key indication of life expectancy.  Sitting on the floor forces you to get off the ground to stand up instead of just off the couch.  And as you know, getting up off the ground from a seated or lying position is a great strength, core, mobility, and stability exercise  As Kelly Starrett has said, "Your butt is NOT a weight bearing muscle!"

Go Get 'Em!

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