Author Archive: Cell Your Sole

Low Back Pain

I find Dr Mike Evans presentations excellent.

Back problems often come when the infrastructure of the back doesn’t work as it should. This happens for many reasons and the fix is generally to do with getting the whole system to work in a coordinated fashion again.

Mikes video is an excellent thorough intro that gives you the clear details you need. There is far too much confusing information so it’s important to start with reliable and clear details and then see what it relevant for you.

To understand how walking and related activities help you only need to put your hand on your back while you move. Feel the muscles work while you move and you see that something inherently gentle still asks enough of your back muscles and infrastructure to remind it all how to work together.

Now take a look at Katy Bowmans advice that gives you a really simply thing to do if you have low back pain.

Occasionally I suffer from back pain but I’m fortunate in that I know what causes it. Sometimes it’s induced by activity, typically tennis, and is quickly fixed with a little rest combined with improvements in technique and strengthening the affected area and improving flexibility.

Other times I have had back pain caused by too much rest. This happens when I haven’t been busy, particularly when I haven’t been as active as normal. In these cases even something as simple as walking is enough to prevent back pain for me.

Years ago I drove 1,000 miles in one week for work so I was sitting pretty much all week. That lead to back pain. I made sure I went to play football that week and it was enough to fix it.

Worse happened when I sprained my ankle. Being unable to move normally for days led to excruciating pain to the point that I couldn’t sleep or even lay down without pain. I had to sit up all night and any movement was agony. Painkillers did nothing to stop the pain. Given my previous experience I knew that moving normally would help my back. So once I could put pressure on my ankle I started moving again. This fixed most of the backpain within a day. It got my back to coordinate itself properly and stop causing pain.

As I think of it I’ve seen a few more examples of back pain, each alleviated simply by movement. It won’t fixed or help every condition though it has amazed me just how helpful it can be even in excruciating cases.

I haven’t talked about back pain yet on this blog so I hope this initial post bridges the gap well for now.

More reading

Why train your nerves?

For many years I’ve noticed the forgotten aspect of training your nervous system and the adaptations it makes to support your activity underpins all the improvements you see.

I read a beautiful research article named how brain cells change their tune and I felt it was time to explain mytheory that learning a skill depends on training our nerves. (more…)

Is the quality of energy supply crucial to the effects of Parkinsons and related heart failure.?

Following on from the finding that the ability of your brain to harness energy could explain age related mental decline? there is similar evidence that problems with energy provision could be a factor in  Parkinson’s disease and heart failure.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis investigating mouse and fruit fly hearts, found that

a protein known as mitofusin 2 (Mfn2) is the long-sought missing link in the chain of events that control mitochondrial quality.

I’m most interested in their explanation of the effects of poor mitochondrial quality

Heart muscle cells and neurons in the brain have huge numbers of mitochondria that must be tightly monitored. If bad mitochondria are allowed to build up, not only do they stop making fuel, they begin consuming it and produce molecules that damage the cell

This finding implies that the effects of Parkinson are tied to problems of energy handling. The process of getting energy from one place to another fails or is disrupted. That appears to be crucial in Parkinsons and critical to heart failure.

Put in these terms I hope it makes more sense. Throughout the body our cells rely on energy to function properly and do their part in keeping us alive and healthy. So a failure in the energy cycle which is the production, transport and use of energy will inevitably cause problems.

We see the same effects at a different scale in society. When we run out of energy whether it’s petrol for your car or electricity for your house. There are always wider effects and damage to deal with. Freezers defrosting, cars not moving, engines being damaged. Why would the body be any different.?

Fitness: Could your brains ability to harness energy explain age related mental decline?

Everyone seems to assume that your mind must degrade with age. I’ve never seen convincing evidence for that. I simply see that increasing age requires increasing maintenance since our parts and code get old. In otherwords,

You are only as old as the lifestyle you live. 

So it is that I am good at finding evidence that shows this to be true. There is increasing evidence that
Age-related cognitive decline is linked to the energy available to synapses in the prefrontal cortex. The study’s senior author, John Morrison, PhD explains this more clearly

“We are increasingly convinced that maintenance of synaptic health as we age, rather than rescuing cognition later, is critically important in preventing age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease,”

So the experts are finding that our brain structures don’t die off as much as we thought. The real problem is that the brain needs energy to keep its traffic flowing because neurons need energy to transfer signals. As people age our current lifestyles lead them to become inefficient in accessing their available energy stores. So less energy is made available to support brain traffic.

The authors sum up the finding neatly

Working memory requires the energy-demanding activation of nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex through the complex arrangement of the synapses that interconnect nerve cells.

In short. Synapses need lots of energy to work properly. Without that energy they start to fail.

If you have been following this blog you may start to understand why I believe that the health of our bodies reflects an energy economy. Financial economies suffer when money flows slowly. Cashflow is everything and individual businesses fail simply because cash flow isn’t handled properly.

In the same vain life is all about energy flow and individual humans suffer problems when they manage their energy poorly.

The best way to fix problems like this is to be more active. With the mind you need both physical and mental activity. The reason is simple. Your brain loses functionality because it can’t tap into the energy resources around it. This happens primarily because you don’t use your brain enough and so it hasn’t kept up its sharpness. It’s literally become unfit. So you have to train it by using it.

Over time the parts that were slack are forced to get back up to speed. It’s obviously much more technical than that but that is what ultimately why the term use it or lose it was coined.

Functional medicine: an alternative treatment for cancer: Fitter Food Radio episode 11

I’m listening to  Fitter Food Radio episode 11 with Jo Gamble on Embracing Nutrition.

It is quite fascinating. Focusing on Jo Gamble explaining the value of functional medicine for health.

Jo is a nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner who specialises in alternative treatment for cancer.

I’m getting to know the show so I can only comment on this episode. I’m always interested in different approaches to help and I like the way Jo tells her story. So I share for reference.

Functional medicine certainly sounds interesting but so do most approaches in the hands of a good promoter. The problems cited with the existing health system we’ve all heard before. I like the holistic approach we hear from Jo.

Though I’m still curious how much we really know and how much relies on the ability of the practitioner. The same can be said for the existing system as much for alternatives.

Jo makes the point that

doctors knowledge of nutrition is often not as good as our own

Given how much Doctors are required to know along with the lack of support to help them gain this knowledge and keep it up to date. I feel it is important to keep considering other ways of achieving the same result. Helping people gain health.

What are the things Jo says are critical to preventing cancer through lifestyle

  • enough sleep: atleast 8 hours
  • stress: too much leads to problems.

These are the things I see across all diseases. The same lifestyle factors leading to disease. Lack of sleep prevents your body fixing itself and dealing with problems. Of course this leads to disease, why would it not.

To much stress overworks you creating too much damage. It also prevents sleep and thus stops any repair.

Thanks to Matt Whitmore and Keris Marsden for an excellent show.

What is Functional Medicine?

Wikipedias introduction is:

Functional medicine reflects a systems biology approach which involves an analysis of how all components of the human biological systeminteract functionally with the environment over time. The Institute for Functional Medicine contrasts this approach with an organ system biology broken down into modern medical specialties.

Functional medicine, in agreement with modern medicine, holds that the entire “patient story” needs to be heard and understood in context in order to truly help the patient.[6] Where functional medicine differs from mainstream medicine is its willingness to employ treatments and drugs which may not be well evidenced by clinical research, including orthomolecular medicine and detoxification of unevidenced toxins.

Related links

Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You?

I just came across Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You? from the excellent Marks Daily Apple. Something I’ve wondered for a long time. Given the chance I prefer gentle cooking. I feel flavours and textures are best with this approach. My wife is the opposite. She prefers quicker cooking and loves well done steak.

The article reminded me of Advanced Glycation Endproducts produced through certain types of cooking that can cause damage. Wikipedia starts by saying:

In human nutrition and biology, advanced glycation end products, known as AGEs, are substances that can be a factor in the development or worsening of many degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis and chronic renal failure.

Mark has created a lengthy article covering all sorts of angles.  Some key topics covered are

  • Heterocyclic Amines
  • Advanced Glycation Endproducts
  • Oxidized Lipids

I never see these types of articles as a list of stuff you shouldn’t or should do and basically something to reduce fun. I use it to guide my fun. Reminding me to learn more about marinades and other ways to make cooking easier and the results more exciting.

Are home schooled children leaner than traditionally schooled kids?

I saw the article Home schooled children leaner than traditionally schooled kids and just had to share and keep it.

It is just one study but it’s an important consideration. The impact of school on socialisation and health. The study makes clear these results came before the latest health standards were implemented at school but also makes clear the dependence you have on the school system when you’re kids are there.

It’s also important to remember that we haven’t heard the whole story

  • What’s the range and regularity? These are averages 
  • How much leaner? I didn’t see any numbers. 
  • What was classed as traditional
I’m not ripping apart the study. Just something I think of regularly in any study. Every report you get is biased but the bias is always slightly different. You will never get the full story so it’s work thinking a little deeper. 
An interesting question though. 

What pedometer tracks daily life?

I’m looking for something cheap and simple to start tracking the steps in my daily life. I can’t believe I don’t already have one but I was hoping to do this through my smartphone. It’s never really worked out like that for a bunch of reasons so I’m just going to get something and start monitoring my daily activity.

Tracking my steps is the basic unit that seems to fit me so a pedometer is what I need. I’ve never had my own before so I thought I would get a cheap one to test the concept then buy something expensive like a fitbit once I’ve learnt more about what I want.

The idea is to track steps in daily life. Steps in cooking, cleaning, walking dog and playing tennis shopping. Everything. Point out how much activity is out there.
Key features for me:

  • track small activities like pottering in the kitchen with small steps then a stop including
    • cooking
    • cleaning
    • walking the dog
    • playing tennis
    • shopping
  • light
  • waist clip

A quick check on amazon for pedometers less than £20 with feedback of 4 or more revealed a page of results.

Fit the bill

  • Omron Walking Style III Pedometer £20
    • Excellent battery life
    • active mode: You can track specific activities. I hope this is useful for pottering activities
    • 7 day memory
    • excellent reviews

Not appropriate

  • Daffodil HPC650 Multi-function Pedometer £5.15 Won’t track short activities
    •  Accurate Step Counter with 7 day Memory Function, Calorie Counter and Daily Progress Monitor
    • the pedometer will only start to count your steps after seven seconds of movement. So it doesn’t pick up steps if you only travel a small distance – say pottering in the kitchen.
    • no waist clip
    • all reports say it is highly accurate
    • I have had no problems whatsoever with accidental counting, for example when driving (even with a dozen quite severe speed bumps on my commute). And the device being on a lanyard around my neck has not been an issue either, i wear it under my clothes so it is not obvious at work and if i change clothes i don’t have to move it between pockets or waistbands.
  • CSX Walking 3D Pedometer with Clip and Strap £15.99 Won’t track short activities
    • – Accurate Step Counter, Distance Miles and Km, Calorie Counter, Daily Target Progress Monitor, 7 Day Memory, Exercise Time – White – with Tri-Axis Technology
    • Walk Sensor technology – to avoid counting sudden movements as steps, the counter will not count any movement less than 10 consecutive steps.
  • Omron HJ005-E Step Counter Pedometer With Large Lcd Display £6.15 Not accurate enough
    • pendulum driven so not highly accurate.
    • good reviews and very cheap. 
    • Good name

Results

So I bought the Omron walking style III. I did checkout a bunch more but didn’t feel like including every one. For each either accuracy or not tracking short sequences of steps was the problem. I might find the results inaccurate for this reason but I want to track the small activities as much as the large. Going up the stairs and cleaning. Stuff like that. The boring but incidental activities. Do they add up to something useful.

I would prefer a fitbit or similar but they cost and only work with an iPhone. I have Android at the moment but I will be addressing that soon. For now I just want to get used to having a pedomete because I don’t have one at all. 

Take Care of Yourself Before You Take Care of Business

This is the point that I start talking about the Sell Your Soul aspect that Cell Your Sole is also about. Yes the pun really is intended. The point here is that you must always understand who you are and what makes you and your life work. This site is all about learning, particularly about yourself.

Taking time for yourself and the time to learn about what you want and what makes you happy is important. The pressures of life distract us all the time but personal well being comes from knowing your own needs and feeding them. Which means not selling your soul. Not selling your opportunity for fun and happiness.

It’s much better to learn how to meet your needs without giving the chance for fun. Even better to learn how to make fun achieve your goals as well. That’s the point of food and exercise. Not as chores but as opportunities to play.

The same goes for me time. It’s not selfish. Think about it. The better you take care of yourself the better you can take care of others.

Check out Take Care of Yourself Before You Take Care of Business and let me know what you think. This applies to all of us whether we’re high flying CEOs or parents or whatever. You’ll do a better job if you take better care of yourself.

It’s Not Memory Loss – Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information

So, It’s Not Memory Loss – Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information is the kind of finding that makes sense to me. I’ve met plenty of older peeps whose memory is just fine. They can remember all sorts of stuff they do regularly. though as you would expect, they can get confused by all the other information they have to sort through. 
I’ve noticed the same each time I play tennis at lunch!!! In the first set calling the score is easy. Everyone can do it. Later on though mistakes start occurring. We can’t agree if it’s 30-40 or 40-30. We run through the points that have just been played. You know how it goes. 

Deja vu

Though a knowledge of psychology makes it easier to understand the problem. The scoring system in tennis encourages repetitive score lines and essentially Deja Vu. You have to really use your memory well in order to keep an exact track of events because by the end of a match every possible score line is likely to have occurred and thus each scoreline will feel relevant or at least recent. So figuring out what happened only a few shots or points ago starts to become a bit muddled. This happens independent of the age of the players.
The study reports:
older adults’ performance on cognitive tests reflects the predictable consequences of learning on information-processing, and not cognitive decline.

The point here is that this happens to any one for predictable and standard reasons. For younger people new information has no or little conflict with what they already know. For older people most things conflict or update what they already know. So they can start to get confused about what is the correct version of information they need to use or present right now. 

Computer memory has the same problem!!!

This is actually the exact same reason a computer gets slower over time and use because at first there is only so much information stored in its memory (hard drive). So it’s really easy to find what is needed or know that it’s not there. 
Over time more of the memory gets used and much gets changed and over written. So things become really cluttered. In fact your computer memory often starts breaking apart whole chunks of information and storing them separately. Putting it all back together when needed. As you can imagine this requires a lot of administration and effort. Taking time and slowing things down. The complexity also means more can go wrong. Details of where memories and their parts are stored can get lost or broken. 

Organising and accessing information

If this sounds like your human memory I think it’s because the principles are essentially the same. Organising and accessing a lot of information is obviously much much harder than organising and accessing a lot less information. 

the larger the library you have in your head, the longer it usually takes to find a particular word (or pair)

 So I like this article It’s Not Memory Loss – Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information because it fits what I have seen all my life and also what I see in technology. The same problems generally have the same solutions. It also makes me feel more positive about my memory as I age. Something to support what I believed anyway.

A well honed body and mind

Though I still feel it’s important to keep fit because what your body can do reflects what your brain can do. If your body isn’t fit and thus fast, strong and well honed then why would your brain be. All the evidence points to fitness affecting the whole body not just individual parts.

In fact, the new study is not likely to overturn 100 years of research, cognitive scientists say. Neuroscientists have some reason to believe that neural processing speed, like many reflexes, slows over the years; anatomical studies suggest that the brain also undergoes subtle structural changes that could affect memory.