Emptying out the mailbag & clearing the history #18

Posted on February 6, 2017

(Last Updated On: February 6, 2017)

Other mailbags can be found hereKeep in mind a lot of this is email conversations, comment replies, or some random interesting things I’ve found. By their nature they are not as thorough or complete as a post on one topic.

Here’s what’s covered in this installment:

For the “exercise has failed” crowd

Some have said exercise and diet have failed due to the high rate of overweightness. From Phil Knight’s memoir (founder of Nike),

“In fact, in 1965 running wasn’t even a sport. It wasn’t popular, it wasn’t unpopular-it just was. To go out for a three-mile run was something weirdos did, presumably to burn off manic energy. Running for pleasure, running for exercise, running for endorphins, running to live better and longer-these things were unheard of.

People often went out of their way to mock runners. Drivers would slow down and honk their horns. “Get a horse!” they’d yell, throwing a beer or soda at the runner’s head. Johnson [Nike’s first employee] had been drenched by many a Pepsi. He wanted to change all this. He wanted to help all the oppressed rulers of the world, to bring them into the light, enfold them in a community. So maybe was a social worker after all. He just wanted to socialize exclusively with runners.

Above all, Johnson wanted to make a living doing it, which was next to impossible in 1965.”

It’s worth remembering only 51 years ago running wasn’t a thing. For middle aged people, they’re more or less the first generation where, throughout their lives, exercise would even be considered a health modality. And that’s a tenuous relationship for many of them, because they were at the beginning of the movement. I regularly have older clients say “I didn’t realize I could lower my blood pressure from exercising.” “I didn’t realize I could get stronger at this age.” “Did you know exercise can help dementia?”

For the younger crowd, you may have heard this, but not realized it was true,


That making a living from exercise, whether it be doing it yourself or training other people, is a recent phenomenon.

The fact an entire, enormous market has emerged is one sign of progress. These things take time. (Not to mention all the money there is to be made getting people to be less active! There is a metabolic war going on.) We’ve created a market, we’ve de-stigmatized / -stereotyped, now we need to make more people regularly participate. The snowball did start rolling and it hasn’t melted. It’s just not big enough yet.

On another note, Phil Knight’s book is wild. The ups and downs of Nike are hard to believe. Knight didn’t pay himself a salary for five years! While there was clearly elements of luck -multiple times one decision made by a non-Nike person could have put the company under- the sheer perseverance is inspiring.

Which brain networks respond when someone sticks to a belief?

“To consider an alternative view, you would have to consider an alternative version of yourself.”

“The amygdala in particular is known to be especially involved in perceiving threat and anxiety,” Kaplan added. “The insular cortex processes feelings from the body, and it is important for detecting the emotional salience of stimuli. That is consistent with the idea that when we feel threatened, anxious or emotional, then we are less likely to change our minds.”

Or why if we’re trying to have open discourse with someone, potentially trying to persuade them, it HAS to be relaxed, genuinely open minded, and potentially above all else, empathetic.

That said, if somebody is already worked up, raised voice, upset, they probably aren’t going to be convinced of anything contrary to their current view. I think most would find if anything, the person will only become more entrenched.

Something else can help here- humor. Is there any better way to disarm someone than to make them laugh? Even that has to be nuanced though. Pure sarcasm, which may be funny to one side but antagonizing to the other, isn’t a good move.

Motion is lotion

“Normal synovial fluid does not clot but may exhibit thixotropy, the property of certain gels to become fluid when shaken. On standing at room temperature, normal synovial fluid may assume a gelatin-like appearance. When shaken it will resume its normal fluid nature.”


MRI of intermittent meniscal dislocation in the knee

Some cool images in this study. Always good to keep these weirdos in mind.

“Genetic tests promised to help me achieve peak fitness. What I got was a fiasco”

I’ve had some clients ask me about these tests. This article pretty much sums up my advice to them.

“And in one case, two companies cited the same journal article to support their opposing conclusions.

This happened in their analysis of the gene known as COL5A1, which regulates the production of a protein found in tendon and ligament tissue. The three tests that reported it agreed that I have a genotype of TT. That’s a relatively rare variant, found in less than 10 percent of the population, according to Orig3n.

DNAFit said that made me more vulnerable to tendon injuries, citing a few studies. Kinetic Diagnostics agreed that I was at greater risk, citing a different study from 2012.

But Orig3n took that same 2012 study and came to the opposite conclusion: I’m protected against tendon injuries.

At this point, my head was spinning.

So I got in touch with the authors of the 2012 study, who said that their results “are too preliminary for confident interpretation” of what my TT genotype means for injury risk.

And, to my surprise, Orig3n CEO Robin Smith conceded that his company had likely got it wrong.

After I told Smith about my findings, he said his team reviewed the literature and concluded that most likely, I was at greater risk of tendon injury after all. He pledged to send out a correction by email to other customers with the same TT genotype. And he told me his team would study the data on another genotype where Orig3n’s interpretation contradicted another test.

How did the other companies respond when I asked them about this and other contradictions?

DNAFit sent me a 2,000-word document defending its interpretation of my genotypes. It even included quotes from scientific studies to bolster its interpretations — and to rebut the contradictory results I got from other companies. (My apologies to the DNAFit staffers who got stuck with that task.)

Kinetic Diagnostics didn’t respond to my specific questions about the contradictions. It has since withdrawn the test I took from the market, describing it as a “pilot,” and is working on refining its business model.”

Props to the CEO for at least being honest and correcting their mistake, but this is happening with things as (seemingly) rudimentary as aerobic fitness, sprinting ability, tendon healing. Who knows how many people will be harmed with the big guns, like heart disease and cancer.

One of the things that doesn’t get talked about enough in healthcare is how many people do we need to hurt until we make a treatment worth doing?

Anyways, want to know if you’re made to sprint? Use a stopwatch.

Knowing your risk of being automated

One of the best takes on this-

Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet)

Some nice graphic work too.

Have a concussion? Get moving??

Association Between Early Participation in Physical Activity Following Acute Concussion and Persistent Postconcussive Symptoms in Children and Adolescents

You name it, and physical activity probably helps it. One of the few times I’ve seen this questioned though was with concussions. Screen time has been found not helpful while concussed. Where the idea was then, perhaps, give the brain as much relaxation time as possible, at least initially. Maybe the first week. Looks like moving around may not qualify though!

This is likely in opposition to how most would approach healing. “Let me relax by not moving much and watching television.”

Resistance Training Recovery: Considerations for Single vs. Multi- joint Movements and Upper vs. Lower Body Muscles

“Eighty percent of participants completed within 1 repetition of baseline for all exercises at 48 h except bench press (70%) and deadlift (60%); suggesting 72 h of recovery should be implemented for multi-joint barbell lifts targeting the same muscle groups in slower recovering lifters.”

While one could question if full recovery was properly labeled here -you could argue that, ideally, full recovery would mean being a little stronger than the previous session- and this study is merely affirming what well trained people already know, it’s cool to have research behind the theory of needing multiple days between intense exercise. And that multi-joint exercise is more intense than single-joint.

Another takeaway here is why the difference between multi-joint and single joint? It’s unlikely to be muscular, since all the muscles in e.g. the bench press were hit in the single joint exercises. Neural fatigue would be a logical place to look. That while the brain can output the same for a tricep extension 48 hours later, it can’t for a bench press, which uses a lot more muscle / motor units than a tricep only exercise.

How many activities do humans do which require multiple days to recover from? If you’re somebody who wants to keep your mind sharp, trying to work your brain, for something like preventing dementia, when was the last time you needed 72 hours to recover from a crossword puzzle? Stop thinking and start moving. 

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