Thoughts

Less Annoying Body Composition Metrics

March 29, 2019 by Chris Craig

Do you want to know how fat you are? How much muscle is under there? Okay, stand ½ naked, get drawn on with marker and pinched with calipers. That’s a hard sell, often with less than favorable reactions, yet it’s the norm for measuring ‘body composition,’ and without any impression of overall musculature. With that in mind, and without access (or a desire to expose individuals to radiation regularly) to the gold-standard DEXA scan, I have turned to Electromyographic Impedance Myography (EIM) to provide my people with a more complete picture regarding their current state of muscle, fat and progress. The resulting metrics nearly replicate the DEXA, however, it is affordable, safe and portable; and when compared to skinfold, and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) it was notably more accurate, more reliable, less invasive, and it provides information about muscle quality (Mclester, Dewitt, Rooks, & Mclester, 2018). This has been a fantastic tool for recognition of improvements in body composition that may not be visible, providing users with engaging feedback.

Of note: this device is not dissimilar from your standard body fat scale BIA technology, however it works by utilizing a localized, multifrequency approach that provides feedback on various levels of tissue (Jafarpoor, Li, White, & Rutkove, 2013; Schwartz, Geisbush, Mijailovic, Pasternak, Darras, & Rutkove, 2015; Sung, Spieker, Narayanaswami, & Rutkove, 2013).

Exercise & Not Feeling like 💩

March 15, 2019 by Chris Craig

I have noticed recently that people are feeling low and slow. While there are many possible roots to an issue like this, a relatively easy (physically) way to help ourselves feel a bit better is to do some exercise, mindfulness activities, or both (Cooney et al., 2013; Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010).

Review of the subject indicates that exercise can have a very positive, and cost-effective impact on reducing the symptoms related to depression for yourself, further, sharing this pro-active experience with someone may also help to slow its threat of becoming the lead cause of global disease burden by 2030 .... or at the very least it’s better than doing nothing (Cooney et al., 2013; Funk, 2011; Kraepelien, 2018; WHO, 2012).

And for those struggling with the inclusion of exercise and mindfulness/meditation as separate activities, it’s fun to say that at least Arnold Schwarzenegger similarly finds that lifting weights can be akin to meditating (Ferris, 2015).

Pull-Up

March 8, 2019 by Chris Craig

Overhand pull-ups with shoulders pulled down and together (chest proud), low reps with full awareness, and a strong trunk appear to provide the greatest amount of muscle activity with the lowest risk of injury (Antinori, Felici, Figura, Marchetti, & Ricci, 1988; Carroll, McGill, 2013; Dickie, Faulkner, Barnes, & Lark, 2017; Doma, Deakin, & Ness, 2013; Ekberg, 2017; Halet, Mayhew, Murphy, & Fanthorpe, 2009; Prinold, & Bull, 2016; Youdas, Amundson, Cicero, Hahn, Harezlak, & Hollman, 2010).

Exercise Physiologist Alex Effer noted that when the legs are crossed and shifted behind the body there is an increased anterior pelvic tilt (APT) resulting in pelvic hyper-extension that cascades into undesirable torque and rotation of the pelvis, spine and shoulders. For dynamic neural-drive efforts (McGill protocol): link the feet but attempt to pull them and the knees away from the mid-line during the pull up (Carroll, 2013).

Grip: place hands a comfortable distance approximately outside shoulder width apart, grab the bar as tightly as possible with a pronated grip, and allow for comfortable full shoulder ROM (Antinori, 1988; Dickie, 2017; Doma, 2013; Prinold, 2016; Youdas, 2010).

Reps: keep the movement dynamic in the upward phase, attempting to contract everything at once. Low reps in cluster sets may allow for increased capacity (Carroll, 2013).

The trunk muscle usage is high in a pull-up, assistance may aid in the ability to perform the activity more effectively (Ekberg, 2017; Youdas, 2010).

The ability to perform a pull-up appears to have more to do with total lean body mass than any other factor, including sex (Halet, 2009).

Role of Active Recovery on Athletic Performance:

Physiology, Awareness, Performance

September 28, 2018 by Chris Craig

Optimal athletic performance requires recovery process’. These are inclusive of physiological effects such as blood lactate levels and creatine kinase, and physical awareness of range-of-motion (ROM) perceived muscle soreness and the nervous system. Further, the mental state is positively sustained when a routine is maintained. Scheduled active recovery will lead to better performance through improved physiological effects, improved physical awareness and improved mental state.

An athletes performance is greatly influenced by their physiological abilities. Muscular contraction relies on the bodies ability to process oxygen and nutrients, which is inhibited when blood lactate levels are increased. Blood lactate levels are increased after intense physical activity, however, they can be returned to normal effectively through active recovery resulting in increased aerobic capacity with an estimated Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) of 28-40% (Spierer, Goldsmith, et al., 2004).

Creatine Kinase (CK) (note: this is not the supplement creatine) is a by-product of the human body creating its own energy to support intense activity and can be categorized as muscle damage. Low impact exercise following competition has been shown to clear CK from the body, allowing for increased performance potential (Draper, Bird, et al., 2006; Gill, Beaven & Cook, 2006).

An individual’s optimal physical ability occurs when they are able to perform within their full ROM. This is influenced by nervous system response, decreased circulation to affected areas and circumstantial flexibility. All of these issues can be further influenced by Delayed onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS). A time efficient manner of addressing these hindrances includes foam rolling, active/passive stretching and massage (Beardsley & Contreras, 2018; Pearcey et al., 2015; Nighingale, 2014; Shin & Sung, 2015)

Consistency directly relates to performance. Routine can have a positive effect on behaviour through regulation of concentration and the ability to mitigate arousal response. These abilities have a direct reflection on an individual's ability to perform in abstract environments such as sports through maintenance of abilities (Cotterill, 2010; Ortiz, Elder & Dawes, 2018).

Performing activities at 28-40% of an individual's capabilities in the format of a scheduled active recovery involving ROM, increased blood flow, and the time for self-awareness will lead to increased physical and mental performance as well as a reduced chance of injury.