Sleep and why most of us need more of it!

sleep-deprivation

Today’s blog post is about sleep – one of the most underrated things we can adjust to hinder or help our fitness goals and fat loss.

SLEEP 101 – the Bad. 

Let’s be realistic – how we eat and how we exercise are probably the two biggest contributors to how we look and how we measure, physically. I won’t argue that. There are also many factors outside of these two things that also contribute. I’d like to discuss one of the biggest ones: sleep! (Hint: It’s probably the most overlooked reason).

It’s not always how much we sleep, but it’s a combination of both quality and quantity that can equate to proper hormonal responses, fat loss, and all of the other great benefits of proper sleep that we can achieve.

Let’s touch base on Cortisol first. It’s such an evil word, I feel bad even typing it! Cortisol is a hormone in our body that breaks down tissues. In stressful times (including dieting), the body’s cortisol levels can be higher as the body is preparing for fight or flight status. This can cause the body to store fat as a response!

There’s a cool study in the Laboratory of Physiology in Belgium that showed daytime cortisol levels were higher in those that short themselves of sleep.

Another negative to lack of sleep is glucose control.  Let’s face it, when we can’t sleep, we get hungry and no one ever says “I can’t sleep, let’s go chow on some broccoli.” It just doesn’t happen! Usually CARBS are the culprit of these cravings. There’s a great study done in Chicago (my home!) that showed sleep deprivation can lead to increased hunger and appetite!

In all likelihood, our sneaky little bodies sense fatigue and think it’s a low energy supply, queuing internal drives to chow down on some carbs.

And my last rant here – if we don’t sleep enough, our workouts SUCK. I can quote research on this all day, but I think most of us can confirm that knowingly already.

An interesting tidbit. 

Here’s a quick fact I learned on sleep and car accidents:

A study was done on car accidents the week following daylight savings time in the Spring and Fall.

In the Spring when we lost an hour, car accidents were up 10% approximately for up to two days after the time change. 

In the Fall, when we gained an hour of sleep, car accident rates were reduced by 8-10% in the 2 days following. Personally, I think more accidents occur in the fall anyways, so this research is VERY telling.

Pretty interesting, huh?

2 Strategies for better quality of sleep. 

I am going to share a few strategies I’ve learned from books, lectures, etc. i’ve researched over the years that have made a huge impact on quality of sleep for my clients.

1. Make it a priority!

Make sure you get 7.5 hours per day. Carve it out in your calendar if you must. Here’s a cool idea: Find 10 minutes per day and add it into your sleep time. This could mean:

  • Sleeping later in the morning
  • not finishing that netflix rerun at night
  • taking a powernap

Why? Remember that tidbit about the car accidents? Now you’ve just added an extra hour per week to your sleep. That can really have a positive effect on how you sleep.

2. Protect your fort of sleeping. 

Design your own fort of sleeping. Get rid of your i-this and i-that. Research says you’ll fall asleep faster. 

Let’s start here. Try these two strategies and over a 4-6 week period jot some notes down on energy levels, weight, and overall mood. I’m willing to bet you’ll feel much better if you look these things over.

-Darin Hulslander, CSCS, Precision Nutrition Level 1/2

http://www.thisisperformance.com – first week of online training free.

For all your performance, mobility, and nutrition needs.

Sources:

  1. Copinschi, G. (2005). Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essent Psychopharmacol. 6(6):341-7.
  2. Murphy, HM., & Wideman, CH. (2009). Constant light induced alterations in melatonin levels, food intake, feed efficiency, visceral adiposity, and circadian rhythms in rats. Oct;12(5):233-40.
  3. Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2010). Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss In Hormonal Release and Metabolism. Endocrine Development. 17:11-21.
  4. Coren, Stanley. Sleep Thieves: An Eye-opening Exploration into the Science and Mysteries of Sleep. New York, NY: Free, 1996. Print.
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AND THE BEST DIET IS – (DRUMROLL PLEASE)

and-a-diet-coke-meme

Sorry guys and gals – I’m going to make you have to read to get the answer 😉

The Beginning. 

Let’s face it. There are more diets out there than we can even count. So which one is truly the best? Most recently a group of authors and researchers (plus a little of my own research) have looked at many studies to help determine which diet is truly the most effective and best in regards to weight loss. 

This study looked at “name brand” diet interventions (i.e. Atkins, South Beach, etc.).

The Critical Elements. 

A few key things to note from this:

  • The studies DID include exercise and behavioral interventions but not all of them. Remember this is a cumulative analysis.
  • They had to have lasted 6 months, some lasted longer, and the longest lasted a  year.

Diets Assessed:

  • Atkins – Low Carb
  • Biggest Loser – Moderate carb, moderate fat
  • Jenny Craig – Moderate carb, moderate fat (customized meals)
  • LEARN – low fat to moderate
  • Nutrisystem – moderate
  • Ornish  – Low Fat
  • South Beach – Low Carb
  • Volumetrics – Moderate
  • Weight Watchers – Moderate
  • Zone – Low Carb (in phases)

The researchers that assessed these took into consideration all interventions, including exercise, and ranked them based on strength of the modifications done.

What did the results say???

So this doesn’t answer the original question, but here were the findings (after 1 year):

  1. Any diet > no diet (DUH!)
  2. Low Carb diets were only slightly superior to low fat diets (8.73 vs. 7.99kg lost)
  3. Low Carb and Low Fat Diets had nearly equal effects on weight loss in comparison to the moderate based diets.
  4. Of the individual diets, the Atkins and Ornish (10.1 and 9kg, respectively) were the most effective at both the 6 and 12 month markers.
  5. (This is my favorite one) – Behavioral Support resulted in greater weight loss (3.23kg more than using diets with no support) over the 12 month period.

Let me say, however, that it’s very difficult to make conclusive statements, hence the use of my lingo up there. There are way too many factors involved to definitively say and Scientifically say one works over the other.

What does all of this dribble mean????

It means just that. There is no “universally optimal” diet. That’s just life. The best diet is a diet that one can adhere to.

Sorry that’s not the answer many of us are looking for, but I’m going to give some better strategies below that will help with that.

So what truly is the best diet?

The best diet is one you can adhere to. Low Carb and Low fat lead to greatest long term results, but not by much, and only with named diets in this particular research. There are many other factors that make it impossible to say one is truly the best.

So how do I follow this diet?

Simple. Create habits. Let’s use ‘Sally’ as an example below. Read this scenario.

Awesome Darin: “Sally, we are going to create a habit for you in order to fix your diet long term. The first habit is to eat one serving of colorful vegetables per day for two weeks and we will build on that. Can you do that?”

Sally: “That’s it?! That’s way too easy. I can eat 5 servings per day for two weeks, can I just do that??”

Awesome Darin: “Sure, but I only want you FOCUSING on 1 serving per day”

Here are two scenarios to ponder:

Trainer gives sally a goal of 5 servings per day, she does it for two days, then by day 5, she’s down to 1 serving per day. Sally’s progress starts high, the habit is never built, and she regresses instead of progresses.

Awesome Darin only reinforces the one serving per day, Sally complies for two weeks, and she has successfully built a habit that she can now add on to.

Which do you truly think would have the most success over a year?

So the point is this. Create simple habits. FOLLOW them. Then add new ones. Make them attainable every single day. That’s the best diet out there. 

-Darin Hulslander, CSCS, Precision Nutrition Level 1 (Level 2 in progress)

http://www.thisisperformance.com

http://www.darintalks.com

Source: Patel, Karmal, ed. “ERD Research Digest.” ERD Digest 1st ser. 1.2 (2014): 21-27. Web. 21 May 2015.

Why Punishments Never Work!

punishment-meme

After some serious discussion with multiple people this week, I wanted to create a post  on the whole “punishment scenario” in fitness. I saw a trainer yesterday making his client row 100m for every gram of sugar his client ate. It just didn’t make sense so I immediately gathered some reading and consulted some people and wanted to share my findings.

My goal as a trainer is to get people to their goals and to allow them to move faster, better, and as efficiently as possible versus on their own, if on their own at all.

If you remember anything from your elementary science days, it’s that we use rats, dogs, etc. both for rewards and punishments. They ‘avoid’ the punishment by doing the assigned task. Except there’s one thing wrong with that in regards to us:

WE ARENT DOGS OR RATS!!

What does the research say?

Research says this about rewards and punishments:

  • Only works for short periods of time
  • Is primarily effective for children and animals
  • it’s best used for basic motor skills (fall of riding a bike, get hurt)

But I’m referencing this post into more daily adult tasks, beyond exercise. Exercise and nutrition are simply my specialties.

I read a research study about a crossfit box motivating clients to eat better by punishing them with burpees for every bad calorie they ate at the end of the month. Guess what? A lot of people were doing burpees.

Let’s think about why this is?

No one cared. The end justified the means. They simply shrugged their shoulders and did some burpees at the end of the month. 

This accomplishes 3 major negative things:

  • Exercise is a form of punishment
  • You can buy your way out of a bad diet or habit
  • Eating healthy has more strict rules than 3rd grade math.

Is that what you want a client to think? NO WAY!

Here’s a fact: Rewards illicit the same part of our brain as chemical drugs used for highs. 

Also, pain avoidance activates the brain’s fear center. 

That’s why so often we freeze up when we are scared or frightened.

So how do we avoid this?

For one, you must build a solid relationship. I always pride on knowing my clients like my best friends. There’s no need to punish someone in that regard. They trust and depend on you, and do not want to let you down. No need for a punishment when you have this superpower of relationship control.

Recognize growth rather than reward: Celebrate a great accomplishment. This allows for reinforcement versus a reward or punishment. Clients will benefit more long term from this.

Here’s an example:

“Congrats on finishing your first 5k in under 30 minutes! I will pay your entry fee into your next 5k so we can zoom even faster into it!”

-This gets the client pumped for the next one, versus:

“if you finish this 5k in under 30 minutes, I will pay your next fee”

-This allows the client to simply say ‘meh, if I don’t, oh well’. This is NOT the type of reaction we seek.

http://www.thisisperformance.com

First week of online training is free.

I know we all hate the sled . . . but . . . .

Towing a weighted sled can substantially improve sprint performance. So says a  study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Acceleration is often more important than speed in sports. Athletes on playing fields rarely have enough distance to reach top speed before a change in play. This means that short sprints – acceleration – can be paramount to sports performance.

Today’s study examined whether a training regimen using weighted sled tows and unweighted sprints together would be more effective than unweighted sprints alone. Twenty professional rugby union players participated in the study. They were tested in 10m and 30m sprints, and then broken into two groups. The groups were balanced by average sprint times, so each group had a nice mix of different sprinting abilities.

The first group added only unweighted sprints to their training. They performed 3 sets of 20m sprints, rested, and then performed 2 more sets of 20m sprints. The second group performed the first 3 sets of 20m sprints while towing a sled. Then they rested and performed the final 2 sets of sprints unweighted. Both groups performed the training twice a week for six weeks, in addition to their off-season strength and conditioning program.

So which protocol improved sprinting the most? The weighted sled protocol was more than twice as effective as the unweighted sprints alone. Rugby players in the sled towing group improved their 30m sprints by an average of 0.1 seconds. The unweighted sprint group managed just half that improvement – 0.05 seconds.

In the United States, we’re all about American Football and the 40-yard dash. Thirty meters is about 33 yards. That means these athletes would have improved their 40-yard times by even more than 0.1 seconds. The fact that a professional athlete improved his 40-yard time by more than 0.1 seconds in just six weeks is huge.

The study chose a sled weight of 12.6% bodyweight for each athlete. This generally ranges from about 15lbs for a small lady to 30lbs for a large man. The authors chose that weight strategically because any more weight altered the mechanics of the sprint too much for the drill to be effective.

So there you have it: towing a weighted sled as part of your sprint training is much more effective than just sprinting alone. For best results, use a sled weight that doesn’t alter your sprint mechanics, usually about 13% of your bodyweight. And when your friends ask why you’re suddenly smoking them on 50m repeats, you can either divulge your secret, or tell them your new Zumba class made all the difference. Your call.

References:

1. Daniel West, et. al. Effects of Resisted Sprint Training on Acceleration in Professional Rugby Union Players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Apr 2013. Vol. 27. Issue 4. p1014-1018. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182606cff

The COOLEST breathing trick you’ll ever learn.

I’m back!

HARRIS

So today’s post is going to demonstrate a really awesome breathing technique developed by an awesome guy, Dr. Andrew Weil. I’m going to get a little scienc-ey for a bit then discuss why this is so cool.

Whether it’s financial woes, health issues, or just loneliness and busy traffic, people are under more low-level, chronic stress than at any other time in history. Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress and the CDC estimates that up to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

Americans are so stressed out that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace that costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.

Everywhere we turn in modern society, there are people and things that keep us feeling insecure and on alert. Stress can play a part in problems like headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

When our adrenal glands put out more and more adrenaline and cortisol in response to our busy lives and perceived stress, and we don’t take ample time to rest, heal and recover fully, our bodies and minds become accustomed to living in a constant state of fight-or flight and start to malfunction.

There is nothing more disconcerting than feeling a heavy sense of impending doom—trembling, heart racing, light-headed, overwhelmed, scared—even though your eyes and your logic tell you there is absolutely nothing to fear. 

That anxiety you feel, that panic that is starting to take you over? It’s chemical. It’s not real; it’s not reflective of true circumstances going on right in front of you in the present moment.

If it was, you’d call it fear, not anxiety.

But it sure feels real. After all, your body is having a very real fight-or-flight reaction. You wouldn’t be trembling, sweaty-palmed and freaked out for no real reason, would you?

Well the reason you are anxious is real, but it’s not why you think. The reason for your anxiety and panic is simply that you have a stress response system that has run awol.

NERVOUS SYSTEM 101

he central nervous system is made up of the brain, the spinal cord and millions of individual nerve cells called neurons, which serve as the body’s wiring. Nerve signals are transmitted as electrical impulses through the length of a neuron. When a nerve impulse reaches the end of the neuron it jumps over to the next neuron using chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.

At the end of each neuron there are tiny sacs filled with neurotransmitters. When a nerve impulse reaches the end of the neuron, it triggers these sacs to dump their neurotransmitters into the gaps that separate one nerve cell from another. These gaps are called synapses, and the neurotransmitters float across the synapse. When they reach the neighboring neuron, the neurotransmitters lock into specialized receptor sites. When enough neurotransmitters attach to the receptors, the neuron “fires,” sending an electrical impulse down its length.

Glutamate and GABA are the most abundant neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. GABA is short for gamma amino butyric acid, and is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is essential for the proper function of your brain and the central nervous system. GABA has the effect of reducing excessive brain activity and promoting a state of calm. While glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, and encourages neurons to “fire” and send a nerve impulse, GABA does the opposite, and tells the adjoining cells not to “fire,” not to send an impulse.

Without enough GABA to balance glutamate, nerve cells fire too often and too easily. Anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, seizure disorders, and numerous other conditions including addiction, headaches, depression, Parkinson’s syndrome, and cognitive impairment are all related to low GABA activity.

GABA hinders the transmission of nerve impulses from one neuron to another. To help understand this effect, think about the last time you had some caffeine. Caffeine is a natural drug that inhibits GABA from locking into the neuron receptors. The less GABA, the more nerve transmissions occur. Think about what drinking too much coffee feels like: that is the sensation of too much glutamate in your system, without enough GABA.

This is where the 4 7 8 breathing technique comes in. 

The slow breathing rate and the increase in blood oxygen that 4 7 8 breathing creates signals the brain to release GABA! GABA, in turn, inhibits the release of cortisol and adrenaline, allowing your body-mind to finally slow down, rest, digest and repair itself.

You can use 4-7-8 breathing whenever you need to create an immediate release of GABA that will help bring your nervous system back to baseline, and make you feel calmer, more relaxed and better able to meet the challenges that life offers you.

4-7-8! 4-7-8!

The technique is called 4-7-8 Breathing, and it has four easy steps:

  1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  3. Release your breath from your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of 8.
  4. Without a break, breathe in again for a count of 4, repeating the entire technique 3-4 times in a row, then resume normal breathing and activity.

If you use a second hand on a watch to count your breaths, the whole exercise will take just 57 seconds! But it doesn’t really matter if each count lasts an actual second; it only matters that you count evenly so the ratio of 4-7-8 is maintained.

You may find yourself feeling mildly light-headed after doing this. That’s actually a sign it is working, and it will quickly pass. Feel free to do this as often as you want, but you may need to get used to it first.

Many people find that this breathing technique immediately ends an anxiety or panic attack.

Why It Works

The 4 7 8 breathing technique works because when you are stressed out, your breathing becomes very shallow. People who experience long-term, chronic stress are often chronically under-breathing and are in a constant state of mild hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. Additionally, under-breathing can lead to a build up of excess carbon dioxide in your tissues, which contributes to oxidative stress, inflammation and acidification in your body—the foundations for disease.

It’s hard to think clearly (much less be healthy) if you’re not getting enough oxygen. And when you are totally freaking out with anxiety or a panic attack, it’s common to breathe very shallowly, hyperventilate, or even unconsciously hold your breath—which affects your thinking and your health even more!

But by drawing out your inhale over a count of 4, you are making yourself slowly and consciously take in more oxygen. Then by holding your breath for a count of 7, you allow as much of that oxygen to saturate into your bloodstream as possible, cleansing and energizing all your cells, tissues and organs. Finally, by exhaling for a count of 8, you make sure you have expelled as much carbon dioxide from your lungs as possible.

The 4 7 8 breathing technique basically takes the shallow, oxygen poor breathing you normally do when you are stressed out, and turns it upside down. This has some profound effects on your body and your mind.

-Darin Hulslander

Interval Training at its finest.

HIIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT.

hiit kid

Interval training is a fantastic way of conditioning and it has many benefits, not limited to:

  • Takes a shorter amount of time than most other modalities
  • Is the most tried and true fat loss strategy for exercise out there
  • Can keep calories burning in a way that most traditional cardio cannot
  • Can increase both strength and cardio stamina

Tell me more about this research.

Check this out: A recent study suggested that 3 minutes (yes, 3 minutes) of High Intensity Interval Training  (HIIT) has the same cellular adaptations as 45 minutes of spinning! 

One of the earliest studies, done by researchers at Laval University (Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada), kept it basic, using two groups in a months-long experiment. One group followed a 15-week program using HIIT while the other performed only steady-state cardio for 20 weeks. Proponents of steady-state training were pleased to hear that those subjects burned 15,000 calories more than their HIIT counterparts. Those who followed the HIIT program, however, lost significantly more bodyfat. A 2001 study from East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) demonstrated similar findings with subjects who followed an eight-week HIIT program. Again, HIIT proved to be the better fat-burner–subjects dropped 2% bodyfat over the course of the experiment. Meanwhile, those who plodded through the eight weeks on a steady-state program lost no bodyfat.

The most recent study, out of Australia, reported that a group of females who followed a 20-minute HIIT program consisting of eight-second sprints followed by 12 seconds of rest lost an amazing six times more bodyfat than a group that followed a 40-minute cardio program performed at a constant intensity of 60% MHR (maximum heart rate).

Why does this happen?

Since HIIT training is harder on the body, it requires more energy (*cough calories cough*) to repair itself afterwards.

Ok, one more cool study.

A Laval University study discovered that the HIIT subjects’ muscle fibers had significantly higher markers for fat oxidation (fat-burning) than those in the steady-state exercise group. And a study published in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology reported that young females who performed seven HIIT workouts over a two-week period experienced a 30% increase in both fat oxidation and levels of muscle enzymes that enhance fat oxidation. Moreover, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim) reported that subjects with metabolic syndrome–a combination of medical disorders that increases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes–who followed a 16-week HIIT program had a 100% greater decrease in the fat-producing enzyme fatty acid synthase compared to subjects who followed a program of continuous moderate-intensity exercise.

So, if you are a busy person and don’t have 1-2 hours per day to commit to exercise. Here’s the good news. You don’t need it!

I’ve shared a sample HIIT video below as a followup to my presentation at SAP a few weeks back. Try it and comment below!

Why Fish Oil is just so freaking awesome.

fish oil blog

Time and Time again, in the name of John Berardi, I stress that the deficiency must be fixed FIRST. One of the biggest deficiencies I see if the inherent abundance of Omega-6s and lack of Omega 3s. Recent research suggests an Omega-3 deficiency could be the underlying cause of approximately 100,000 deaths each year. Yes, 100,000!!

Let’s dive in to why Omega 3s are just plain awesome.

1. Heart Health – An Italian study (GISSI) of 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils markedly reduced their risk of another heart attack, stroke, or death. In a separate study, American medical researchers reported that men who consumed fish once or more every week had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than do men who eat fish less than once a month.

2. Omega-3 normalizes and regulates your cholesterol triglyceride levels – Compared to a statin, both fish oil and krill oil are more efficient in doing this. According to a study comparing the efficiency of krill and fish oils in reducing triglyceride levels, both oils notably reduced the enzyme activity that causes the liver to metabolize fat, but krill had a more pronounced effects, reducing liver triglycerides significantly more.

3. Got Kids? DHA affects your child’s learning and behavior – Do you want to maximize your child’s intellectual potential? A study published in Plos One in June 2013 linked low levels of DHA with poorer reading, and memory and behavioral problems in healthy school-age children. In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 2013, children who consumed an omega-3 fat supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary, and intelligent testing at ages 3 to 5.

Previous research also found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior or learning disabilities are more likely to have low omega-3 fat levels.

The magical balance.

Omega-3 and omega-6 are two types of fat that are essential for human health. However, the typical American consumes far too many omega-6 fats in her diet while consuming very low omega-3 levels.

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Our forefathers evolved over millions of years on this ratio. Today, however, our ratio averages from 20:1 to 50:1 – this spells serous dangers to your well-being! In fact, mainstream media has finally reported that lack of omega-3 is among the most serious and pressing health issues plaguing our world.

Omega-6 is primarily sourced from corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils. These are overabundant in the typical diet, which accounts for excess omega-6 levels.

Omega-6 fats predominate the diet in the US, and this encourages the production of inflammation in your body. Many scientists believe that one reason there is a high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and some cancer forms today is this profound omega-3-omega-6 imbalance.

Which kind of oil is best for me?

There are tons of different kinds out there. Let me give my honest personal recommendation.

Fish Oil – of all of the research I have seen, this has the best benefits. Make sure you get one thats USP verified and contains over 600mg of EPA/DHA combined per serving. Slightly lower bang for your buck than krill oil, but I’ll explain my issues with Krill oil below. Fish Oil, however, is weak in antioxidants. This happens because fish oil is a bit perishable, and oxidation leads to the formation of harmful free radicals. Antioxidants are therefore necessary to ensure that the fish oil doesn’t oxidize and become rancid in your body. So I recommend taking with a multivitamin or greens powder or meal rich in veggies, as you’ll get the necessary nutrients to help work with the fish oil.

Cod Liver Oil – Recent research suggests this can cause insane ratios of Vitamins A and D so it’s not on a go-to list for me or hopefully anyone reading this.

Krill Oil – Has just as many of the benefits of Fish Oil, however the ONLY SINGLE REASON I don’t recommend it is that I have seen it cause irritability and lack of social awareness (which is a promoted benefit of fish oil) in children. I am simply waiting until further research comes out before I make a case for it.

Moral of the Story? Get your omega-3s, and ditch the Omega-6s like a bad date.

Just how important is posture?

So I want to share a few very valuable insights on posture – It’s something we all rolled our eyes at when we were younger, but now it’s catching up to us, in a very VERY negative way.

Check this out, for instance:

  • 65% of back pain is posture related
  • 53% of neck pain is posture related.

This is QUITE alarming.

Let’s think of some of the causes: I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 18 years old. When I had one I barely used it. Now, children are glued to their iphones at the age of 10, sometimes even younger. And they’re probably not doing soft tissue work or mobility work or even switching hands when they talk.

This can lead to neck pain, referred all the way down to back pain as they get older and such. I have had more people with pain in the last 5 years than people without, unfortunately.

I would like to bring light to some of the effects that it has, as well as an identifiable solution to one of the more common problems:

Back Pain: You should be sitting at 135 degrees if you suffer from back pain. Read below to see the research.

135 degree

Using “positional” MRI techniques researchers studied the sitting positions of 22 healthy volunteers with no history of back pain. The MRI machine allowed freedom of motion, such as sitting or standing, during imaging. Conventional MRI machines require the patient to lie flat and may mask some causes of back pain.


Researchers used the MRI to examine spinal positioning while the participants assumed three different sitting positions: slouching forward (such as hunched over a desk or video game console), an upright 90-degree sitting position, and a relaxed position with the back reclined backward about 135 degrees while the feet were still on the floor.


Overall, researchers concluded that the 135-degree reclining position put the least stress on the spine and may reduce the risk of back pain. They recommend that people who sit for long periods of time correct their sitting posture and find a chair that allows them to recline.

When I was preparing my research for the SAP Field Kick Off Meeting, I found some more alarming research insights into posture and just the effects it has on people:

A study from researchers at Columbia and Harvard showed that body language symbolizing power can actually affect our decision-making subconsciously. The researchers measured the appetite for risk of participants in either expansive, powerful poses or constricted poses (occupying minimal space, keeping limbs close to the body). Those in the powerful poses not only felt more powerful and in control, but were 45% more likely to take a risky bet.

Plus, the study used saliva samples to prove that expansive postures actually altered the participants’ hormone levels—decreasing cortisol (C) and increasing testosterone (T):

This neuroendocrine profile of High T and Low C has been consistently linked to such outcomes as disease resistance and leadership abilities.

So clearly, our posture has more to do with our minds than we might have thought. And, in fact, it seems like our bodies come first: When we alter our posture and body language, it subconsciously influences our thinking and decision-making.

So moral of the story: PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU SIT!

-Darin Hulslander

http://www.thisisperformance.com