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Why you can’t trust Science

 

 

 

 

I’ve been getting pulled into many discussions regarding health, exercise and nutrition lately and the trend is clear:

Everything needs to be SCIENCE BASED.

This is a good thing, or at the very least, the idea is good.

It’s good to want to support your thoughts and findings with some kind of testing to see if what you’ve seen or done is replicable or that it was just a combination of circumstances.

There are, however, some issues to the current use and limitations of science that I have problems with and I think they’re worth a share so that you are aware of it the next time you read the sentence “Scientific research shows”

1# Cherry Picking

Take an interesting topic on nutrition and it won’t take you long to find 100+ different scientific studies on it. It’s very common for people to pick a scientific study that fits their argument and use that as “proof”. If you don’t have the knowledge, or time, for that matter, to take a good look at what that article actually says, it’s an understandable result to accept that as truth.

You’ll also want to ask yourself the question: who is benefitting from this bit of research? It has happened more than once that scientific studies have been over/underplayed to favor the financer of the study.

 

#2 Science has been wrong more times than it’s been right

Take this example of cholesterol and the drastic dangers of it on your cardiovascular system. It’s a funny explaining video on how Science was wrong on it many times. It’s not that scientific studies are badly done necessarily, there are many other factors in play.
We could have been asking the wrong questions, doing the wrong tests, or didn’t quite have the right instruments to do proper testing -and who says we do now? –

 

#3 Human Errors

Science may sound bulletproof, but it’s still executed by humans. And we make mistakes.  When we have problems that can’t be explained easily we tend to blame stress for pretty much everything but stress is never factored in when it comes to scientific research. Not for the scientists, and not for the participants. But we do make mistakes. Constantly. We make them when remembering facts, with what we are supposed to write down, and sometimes, well, it helps to get paid $50.000 to say something that goes against everything you know is true

#4 Research is not Research

Anecdotal evidence, expert opinions, cross sectional studies, they’re often presented as evidence but the actual value of them in terms of the hierarchy of scientific studies is not very high. There’s a pretty serious change that there are another couple of studies of the same level of reliability that prove the conclusions of yours, wrong. And otherwise, there will probably be one very soon.

 

 

#5 Research can be slow to catch on

 

Sometimes we practice certain principles that are based on scientific research for years, only to find out that it was the wrong approach all along. I touched on that with my 2nd point but here’s another great example on how we’ve overplayed the importance of calories in weight loss. It’s still the most practiced approach (and it does have value) but the point is that only now we are finding that it’s most likely hormones that play a crucial part in weight loss, and not just energy balance. This video is a long one but has very valuable information that might change the way you think about weight loss.

 

As always, I’d love your thoughts about these things. Because I need any insights I can get 🙂

 

Mark

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Readers Question: A muscle tear, now what?

“Can you be treated for a muscle tear by a physiotherapist? What relieves the pain and how long does the recovery take?”

-Wilma

 

Mark Chen, physiotherapist:

 

I would like to start with the following: everyone can use physiotherapy!

That said, the answer to your question depends on a number of factors. The location of the tear and the size, for example, are very decisive for the duration of the recovery. Someone who walks a lot in his daily life will need more recovery time for a tear in his calf muscle than someone who is sitting behind a desk.

Recovery

The recovery of soft tissue proceeds in phases. There is a fixed time for the recovery. This cannot be accelerated but it can be optimized and certainly also be delayed. Give your body the time and opportunity to do its job.

The first phase of recovery is called the inflammatory phase. Think of an ankle that becomes thick and stiff when you have rolled it. Thickness, redness, heat, pain and stiffness characterize this phase, in which the body tries to create a safe environment for recovery.
This phase often takes three to five days.

In the phases that follow, the ‘proliferative phase’ and the ‘organization phase’, a new network of tissue is created. This can be compared with a wound on the skin. It must first be bridged. If there is a scab the body can repair the skin underneath. Then the crust falls off and you see new tissue.

That’s how it works with muscles too. As soon as the crack is bridged, the new tissue has to be stressed and adapted to the demands. The muscle will be ‘repaired’ again within three to five weeks, but the time to make the tissue completely stressable can take several months to a year!

Support
I advise people to support the affected muscle with medical tape in the period that it can be less stressed. If the requirements you place on the tissue do not go beyond the general daily life, then, most likely you do not need physical therapy.

If you are an athlete or do a heavy job, that is a different story. It can make a huge difference if you hire a therapist or trainer to help you build your load capacity. My experience is that most clients become stronger than they were before.

Do not underestimate the capacity of your body, it is amazing if treated properly! Drink enough, rest enough and success with your recovery!

 

Best,

 

Mark

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Readers Question: Cracked rib, can I tape it?

I fell three weeks ago. I thought it was okay, but the next day it turned out that I damaged my ribs. Thanks to paracetamol, I have no problems with exercise. In addition, an elastic bandage gives relief during walking, but that is not really comfortable. My question is whether I would be helped extra with taping while walking? If it is possible to tape the ribs at all?

-Miek

 

Mark Chen, Physiotherapist

Yes, Athletic tape can certainly support your ribs. Thanks to the tape, there will be fewer shocks on the ribs during walking. And that can help a lot! And if the Tape is placed right on the site of the bruise, this can have a good pain-decreasing effect. Some techniques can even speed up the recovery of the bruise.

There are different techniques and you will have to find the one that works best for you. Probably, a technique that imitates the function of your bandage will be a good option to start with. That is why I advise you to do this with a certified therapist. Taping ribs is quite tricky to do yourself. He/she can show you how to do it and apply the first one for you. It should be able to stay on for 4-7 days so sometimes you only need it once!

PS.

Here are the 5 most commonly asked questions about Athletic Tape

 

Best of luck,

 

Mark

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Readers Question: Cramp during workout

Last Monday I did an hour of bootcamp. The same night I woke up with cramps and sore muscles. The Tuesday after I ran with a limp and I had really strong muscle pain. I expected even more muscle pain on Wednesday because it is usually the worst two days after exercise, but I did not have any problems anymore. How is it possible that I had such a strong pain burden, but it was quite short?

-Ilona

 

Mark Chen, physiotherapist

A muscle cramp is a relatively normal and common problem, but in most cases perfectly preventable. The cause of a cramp is simply because too many muscle fibers contract at the same time and then “hold on” to each other. That is painful, and produces enormous tension in the muscle, but in most cases it is not harmful. There are several factors that can influence the risk of cramps.

One of the contributing factors is the internal environment of the muscle, for example:

– low glucose (sugar) content in the muscle
– poor fluid balance (too little fluid intake before, during or after training)
– a mineral deficiency

The muscles have an excellent circulatory system, so if the problem is metabolic in its nature, you will often no longer suffer the next day. As seems to be the case with you.

Circumstances and sportswear also have a strong influence. Have you had very tight footwear or stockings that could impede blood circulation? Or did you, for example, train while it was very cold outside? These are also factors that can play a significant role.
Just go for a walk through cold water and then immediately go jogging again. Very uncomfortable!

Also, do not underestimate that some boot camp training can be very heavy. If your physical condition is not good enough to “keep up” with everything, muscle fatigue can simply be the cause.

The question is, was this an incidental problem? Then maybe you just had bad luck, or trained a little too hard. Do you often suffer from cramps? Then it will probably be worthwhile to look at your fluid intake, diet and other factors above.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Mark

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Readers Question: When to stretch?

In the gym, we always stretch after the lesson. I have also heard that you just have to stretch before exercising, or after warming up. What is the best?

-Merel

Mark Chen, Physiotherapist:

There is a lot of discussion about stretching. For years scientific research has been done to establish the value of stretching before, during and after training. Yet there is still little clarity about what the best way of stretching is and when it can best be done.

In addition, there are also a lot different of ways to stretch, for example static, active or dynamic. All there own strengths for different goals. So the most important question is: what do you want to achieve with the stretching?

The main reason for stretching is relaxation or restoring the resting tension of the muscle. This is often done after training because it has a soothing effect on the muscles. Especially static stretching is suitable for this. Often a light stretch is maintained for a longer period (more than 30 seconds).

To get ready for training, you can actively or dynamically stretch as warming up. This way, you prepare the muscles for a work to come.

Stretching is an important part of a complete training, but is an art in itself. Choosing the right version, maintaining good technique and breathing are all important conditions for your results. So consult your instructor or coach once and see where you can improve.

Hope that helps!

 

Mark

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Episode 4: Self testing the Front-line

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The Power of Personal Standards (RSD Video)

A lot of people simply do not have standards
Don’t let yourself off the hook
Say I’m going to examine myself
And have standards and say
“I’m F*cking pathetic for what I’m doing right now”
NOT having your health handled
NOT having the type of dating life you want
NOT having the type of sex life you want
NOT living in a situation you’re comfortable in
Use the negative emotions from saying “that’s pathetic” to focus your mind
If you’re a person who has his shit together you’re a role model to others
you’re able to bring value, a calming energy, people will actually listen to you
Make yourself strong first.
When you’re taking action,
That’s your criteria for success

 

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Episode 3: Recovering From Injury