I have a small side story before I start emptying the contents of my head on this fine morning.  This one goes to show you that no matter how old you are you can learn something new (no matter how useless it is).

So I’m finally all settled in to the new apartment with Lindsay and I am starting to get back into a solid routine of eating, training, training others, reading, writing and more importantly sleeping.

In regards to sleeping, I had one of those “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” moments on Sunday when Lindsay and I went shopping for bedding.  I thought it was a simple process of picking out a comforter and sheets.  Bada bing, bada boom.

Little did I know that the comforter set we picked out required another comforter to stick inside.  We also got pillows that you don’t sleep with or even use for that matter.  Wait what?  I’m buying 2 comforters for the comfort of one and pillows no one uses?  This is poppycock I say.

I have made it this far in life not knowing what a duvet is, pronounced “doo-vet”.   My life is now complete.  Not because of the duvet, because I have Lindsay to share it with.  Winning.

Anywho, since I have been able to sleep better and get work done I have also been able to read.  A lot.  I’m back to my steady dose of nerd books, blogs, and spell books.  In such, I have a lot on my mind so here goes.

1. Spinal Mechanics

As of lately I have delved back into Stuart McGill’s book Low Back Disorders and am picking up on a lot of new things that I didn’t understand before.  This just goes to show that you should re-read books periodically as your brain juices increase.

Here are a few juicy tidbits from the chapter on Lumbar anatomy:

  • Epidemiological data link herniation with sedentary occupations and the sitting posture.
  • Highly repetitive loads, even at quite low magnitudes, appear to cause microdamage. (I.E. bending at lumbar spine.  Crunches anyone?)
  • Machines can NOT create the many variations of force development within a muscle to stimulate all motor units.
  • Often, pain that is attributed to muscle turns out to be neurogenic pain.
  • It would appear that the disc must be bent to the full end range of motion in order to herniate.  (Again, crunches?)
  • …Amazingly, some people are trained on this machine (crunch machine), even those with known disk herniations…
  • A healthy back depends on proper function in the pelvis and hips…
  • The bulk of evidence supports neither a link between shorter hamstrings as a predictor of back troubles nor the idea othat stretching enhances strength output and offers no protective value against injury risk.
  • …what is often attributed to “hamstring tightness” is actually neural tension so that stretching only worsens the back and radiating leg symptoms.

And I quote “Stop doing crunches for f&$% sake!”…maybe not word for word but you get the picture.  I still have much book to get through but I feel better prepared to work with clients with “bad” backs just after having read this chapter.

2. Greasing the Groove With Deadlifts

Also in the book, McGill outlines evidence for training motor patterns for rehab and pain management rather than stretching:

“…after back injury, many people do not do well with an emphasis on enhancing spine mobility.  In some cases, back problems are actually exacerbated by this approach.  In fact, evidence shows that many back injuries improve with stabilizing approaches – motor control training, enhancement of muscle endurance, and training with the spine in a neutral position…

…low back ROM has no correlation to functional test scores or even the ability to perform occupational work…”

Chalk another one up for deadlift pattern baby!

And when I say deadlift pattern, I don’t mean the ones where you jack up the weight to get as much off the floor as possible.  I mean the elegant form of the deadlift where you keep your spine neutral and maintain perfect form to lift an object off the floor that provides some resistance.   Neurologically, your body has to “learn” this exercise in order to do it well and in the process your spine will be a much happiah campah.


To explain this better, my brothah from anothah mothah Dean Somerset wrote a series of posts called Deadlifts and Disk Herniations.  Here he explains the implications of bad form and why we need to “grease the groove” in order maintain a healthy back.  He also provides some great regressions to the deadlift if you have an injury or disability.  Dean is a wicked smaht and funny guy from Canada (that mythical land between the U.S. and Santa’s workshop) and always has some great stuff to check out.  Wicked, eh? (as they say in Canada)


3. Late Mother’s Day Present (for the ladies)

Another great site I recently came across is one for the ladies by Mother Fitness, Kellie Davis.  I know a lot of you who are devoted readers of my site are women and mothers and there are only so many levels we are able to connect on so here is a great blog to check out to help keep you on the path.  Kellie is super smart and talks about things that I will never understand.


Training wise, men and women are 99.9% similar but biologically and mentally there are some differences so it is better to hear some of the things I touch upon come from a woman.


P.S. Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, you all rock.


4. One More Reason to Take Fish Oil


I have been preaching this for years but with more anecdotal evidence rather than scientific evidence.  With more research being done, there is more reason than ever to get your daily dose of fish oil.  I came across this post the other day by Martin Berkhan on the promising potential of Omega-3s promoting muscle growth.  He has gone through and gathered all the scientific studies and put together a great reference for the effects and benefits of adding Omega-3s to your diet.


Fish oil will ALWAYS be part of my diet.  If you train, want to be healthy, function better, want to lose weight, want to perform better or want to build muscle and you don’t supplement Omega-3s in your diet you are shooting yourself in the foot.


5. Diff’rent Strokes for Diff’rent Folks


Theres always a lot of hooplah about what the best way to train is or the best way to diet is.  The brutal truth is there is no such thing.  There may be a better way than what you are doing but who is to say.  One question I get a lot in regards to diet is “Is eating 6 meals a day the best way to lose weight?”.

I hope you got the reference.

This answer to that question is diff’rent for everyone.  It may work for some but not for others and therefore it is not the BEST way to lose weight.  It is just one way.

Most people know where their diet sucks (carbs, too many calories, processed food) but don’t do much to change it.  Obviously what you have been doing all along isn’t working (which is why you want to make a change) so maybe it is time to try something else.

To find out what will work for you then try diff’rent ways that have worked for others.  Go low carb to see if that will work for you for an extended period of time, if it works then stick with it.  If it doesn’t then try something else.  Try intermittent fasting.  If that doesn’t work then try the Paleo diet.

The problem is that most people view one of these methods as the best.  Try it.  Fail.  Give up.

Find something that works for you.  Our metabolisms work extremely similarly but you are diff’rent.

Written by Steve