Currently viewing the tag: "movement"


Holy Hormones Honey! Interview with @DrNickCampos - Applying Universal Principles to WellnessI spent last Wednesday evening being interviewed by the fascinating Leslie Carol Botha for her radio show, Holy Hormones Honey! The Greatest Story Never Told. The show’s topic was Applying Universal Principles to Health and Wellness (listen to archived show here). While I have written previously on The Four Dietary Principles, I thought I would touch on some more universal principles as they pertain to physical health and wellness here. As a quick review, the four dietary universals are:

  • Food as an energy source
  • Food as a vital nutrient source
  • Food as a source of hydration
  • Food as a source of body composition

Remember that universal health principles are true for everybody no matter what age, gender, creed or color, while health nuances may be true for some people, or more exaggerated than true, as many cases tend to be. Take for instance the above universals—these dietary needs are true for everyone and all living things, no exceptions. Some associated nuances, however, might relate to a way of eating, like vegetarianism, or Paleo, or raw food diets, and so forth. While some people thrive on each of these diets, none is correct for all people.

So what are some other universal health principles? In no particular order:

  •  hydrationHydration — all living things need water; life cannot exist with out the good ol’ H2O. The universal solvent is a must and so getting sufficient amounts (two liters per day minimum) is imperative.
  • Movement — we live in a dimension of movement; movement is the hallmark of the physical universe. If you are not moving, you are stagnating, collecting cobwebs, degenerating, and your time in this plane will neither be long nor pleasant. Get moving regularly—stretching, contracting, and aerobically—and more than half of your physical problems will be solved.
  • Touch — all living things need to exchange energy with other living things; touch is the most effective form of this energy exchange (as well as a source of comfort and security). What would happen to a plant, a pet or a child if it were rarely or never touched? We know that children deprived of touch have different levels of circulating hormones, which has major affects on brain development.
  • Rhythm — this pertains mostly to cycles, although it can also refer to the universal sound (also cycles or oscillations) within space, the oceans, and of course, music. The universe has a multitude of cycles including the orbiting of planets, solar systems and galaxies. Our seasons are cyclical (sun), as are our months (moon) and days (earth). Being mindful of the changes that occur in accordance with these cycles is paramount, and operating within these cycles — sleeping more during winter months, planting seeds (goals) during spring, and so forth — will lead to the greatest growth, fulfillment and wellness.Touch is love
  • Rest — one such rhythmic cycle is the sleep/wake cycle. Getting sufficient rest is of utmost importance, and while everyone is different, we all need both REM and non-REM deep sleep. There was a movement some years back on conscious sleep deprivation, and I must say I have heard of nothing stupider. Many regenerative and storage/sorting processes occur during sleep. Consistent lack of sleep is one of the most damaging acts one can carry out. It is bad enough when one has trouble sleeping, but to deprive oneself when one actually can sleep is pure foolishness.
  • Moderation — which can also be thought of as balance. This is the true essence of a harmonious cycle—fluctuating calmly between two poles, around the center, avoiding the extremes. Extremes are body, mind and soul disrupting, while smooth and small fluctuations are more rhythmically enhancing and growth inducing. We can apply this principle to diet, movement, touch, sex, mind-altering substances, medications, herbs, teas, tinctures, caffeine and other foreign or toxic substances. And most crucially, balance is necessary with regard to the mind.
  • Balanced mindBalanced Mind — The Buddha said, “Whatever an enemy might do to an enemy, or a foe to a foe, the ill-directed mind can do to you even worse.” A chaotic mind is the foundation for all other “problems” and human suffering. We cannot control the circumstances of life but only our perception of those circumstances. A balanced mind is adept at being still. In stillness lies awakened perspective, insight and wholeness. All other aspects of wellness are enhanced by this most powerful of universal principles.

I am certain that these universal principles will get you farther than any particular diet, extreme fitness regimen, supplements, special pH water, or any other nuance you’ve been sold as the answer. Take it from me — I’ve studied health and wellness for going on three decades; I’ve met many of the masters. These universal principles are the common themes of all great teachings as they apply to wellness; they also happen to be common themes present throughout the entire universe in various forms. Apply these principles and forget about the fads. If you find a nuance that works for you, it is because it fits in a greater universal scheme as applied to your unique individuality; but in the end it is the universal aspect that nuance falls within that is bringing the most benefit. Think about it, and I believe you will see the truth behind this statement.

When it comes to strengthening the lower back, Pilates swimming mat exercises beat straight back extensions every time.  So says a recent study out of Brazil, which looked at Pilates mat exercises to distinguish which was the best exercise to increase strength and endurance of the lumbar spine paraspinal muscles (multifidi to be exact).  We know that by strengthening the spinal stabilizers of the low back–paraspinals and abdominals (the core)–chronic low back pain can be resolved and prevented.

The study involved measuring muscle activity during three Pilates mat exercises with surface electromyography (sEMG).  The three exercises were (all done face down):

  1. swimming (great video here)–essentially a cross-crawl pattern of lifting opposite side arm and leg while extending the back, alternating sides through several repetitions
  2. single leg kick–the subject’s back arched, supporting herself with forearms on the floor, flexing one foot then the other in a repeating pattern
  3. double leg kick–the subject moving from head and shoulders down and knees bent, to her back fully arched and arms extended behind her, and then back to head down/knees bent in an alternating manner

The results showed that the greatest activity of lumbar paraspinal muscles (an indicator of more efficient strengthening and stability) occurred in the swimming or cross-crawl pattern.  This study confirms that, at least for strengthening and stabilizing the low back, a cross-crawl pattern is superior to same-sided (ipsilateral) movements, or contracting both sides together.  Why?

Cross-Crawl Pattern

It’s because the cross-crawl pattern actually simulates the way we move.  Muscles of the low back and pelvis fire in an alternating pattern, going from glut to opposite side paraspinals to same side paraspinals, in that order.  When we become lax or de-conditioned in this region–watch out!–chronic low back pain.  In fact, studies show that weak paraspinal muscles are a good indicator of future low back pain.

This study’s upside is that we have a good indication of which movements of the lumbar spine are most functional–again, the cross-crawl.  The downside is, we don’t know if Pilates mat exercises are more effective than using the Roman chair or machines.  My feeling is they are–Pilates mat exercises most closely resemble our natural movements; this leads me to believe that the exercises done in the natural lumbar range of motion will have the greatest contractile strength, and thus the greatest increase in the endurance of the muscles.  Although the Roman chair and machines undoubtedly strengthen low back muscles, the very nature of their low-functionality (we don’t really do those movements naturally) probably makes them poor endurance building exercises comparatively.

Have you ever fallen?  Think it can’t happen to you?  Falls are not as uncommon as you might think, and for the elderly they can be deadly.  But new research shows that balance and movement exercises combined with music do more to prevent falls.  This post is not just for seniors. One out of every three adults age 65 and older falls each year; and of these, tens of thousands die from injuries sustained from falls.  Almost two million seniors visit emergency rooms every year as a result of falling.
Because of these staggering numbers, experts in fall prevention are continuously looking for ways to help the elderly (and others) stabilize themselves. There are effective ways of training people of all ages to maintain balance, including proprioceptive exercises like rocker and wobble boards, yoga, and other movements.  But now a recent study shows that adding music to these workouts can increase these already powerful practices.
Swiss researchers looked at 134 Swiss adults, mostly women, average age 75.5 years, who were at increased risk of falling. They were assigned to either an intervention group that did a music-based multitask exercise program or a control group that did normal exercises. The intervention program used an instructor-led one-hour weekly exercise class that featured multitask activities, including movements that were designed to challenge balance and become increasingly difficult over time. These exercises included walking in time to piano music and responding to changes in the music’s rhythm. People in the intervention program showed a greater improvement in balance and had 24 falls (a rate of 0.7 falls per person per year), compared with 54 falls in the control program (a rate of 1.6 falls per person per year).  It increased participants’ walking speed and stride length while performing one task at a time, and increased stride length and decreased stride length variability while performing multiple tasks at the same time.  This improvement in gait (manner or style of walking) and balance helped reduce the risk of falls.

Not bad, not bad.  I do balance or proprioceptive training with many of the clients at my Los Angeles sports chiropractic office.  Not only do these exercises prevent falls, but they improve athletic performance, add grace to the gait, and believe it or not, help reduce low back pain (check out the article here to find out how). So whether you are a chiropractor, physical therapist, or other movement therapist, try adding music to your training program.  If you are just into working out and keeping fit, then do so to the rhythm of your favorite music.  Moving rhythmically to the beat will improve your balance by syncing your proprioceptors, muscles and brain.  Trust me when I say this is the greatest thing you can do for yourself physically.  Balance, in all areas is the name of the game.


Listen up, gents.  Women are attracted to dancing…yes, dahn-cing.  And when it comes to dance moves, wide, sweeping, flamboyant moves are best for attracting the ladies.

In a study published this week in the journal, Biology Letters, a publication of Britain’s Royal Society, researchers found that when rating male dancers, women preferred those who had a wide range of dance movesand focused on the head, neck and torso.  Think popping and locking.

Researchers from Northumbria University and the University of Gottingen in Germany asked 19 men aged 18 to 35 who were not professional dancers to dance in a laboratory for one minute to a basic drum rhythm. They filmed the men’s movements with a dozen cameras, and then turned those movements into computer-generated avatars so the study could focus on moves, not appearances.

Scientists then showed the dancing avatars to 37 women, who rated their skills on a scale of 1 to 7.  Women rated the best dancers as those with wider, sweeping movements and those that had a variety of moves.

Evolutionarily speaking, women may subconsciously judge how fit a man is by the fluidity of his dancing. According to one of the study’s authors, Nick Neave, an evolutionary psychologist at Northumbria University, their research was likely subjective and different cultures would have different measures for what constitutes good dancing.  He advised bad dancers to improve their core body moves.

“The movements around the head, neck and trunk were the most important,” he said. “The good dancers had lots of different movements and used them with flair and creativity.”

I don’t think men who are bad dancers should get down on their chances of attracting females.  I think in general women are just attracted to men that will dance.  Embarrassingly bad dancing will probably repel before attract women, but as long as a man is willing to move, I think he should be okay.

Dancing is movement.  Movement is health.  Health is attractive.  So dance—it’s that simple.


Hey you! Yeah…you. Don’t be a sitting duck. Get off your a$$ and move around. Sitting for too long can get you killed, literally. Several studies suggest that prolonged sitting can cause obesity, heart disease and even death. And let’s not forget hemorrhoids.

According to an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, physical activity is not enough–sitting too long causes the genes that regulate glucose and fat in the body start to shut down. Whether the sitting is done in a classroom, a car, or in front of the T.V. or computer is inconsequential. What matters is time.

In a Canadian study published last year, 17,000 people were followed for twelve years: Those that sat the most had a higher death risk, independent of whether they exercised or not. Holy hematochezia! That means…aw man, I’m in trouble.

I’m not the only American needing to worry: A 2003-2004 U.S. survey found that Americans spend more than half their time sitting, from working at their desks to sitting in cars. Although preliminary, these studies point out the dangers of taking too much of a load off.

Well, I must say I’m truly listening to this one. Although I am a highly active person, I also sit a lot. And the results of these preliminary studies make sense to me. The human body is made to move–movement is a part of our very survival. Not in just the obvious way as a means of catching food or escaping predators, but as a way to detect changes in the environment. Our moving parts have receptors–sensory devices that sense the world around us. When these are not used (through movement) regularly, the function of the body is disrupted. Chiropractors know this; we do our part to keep these moving parts moving through adjusting subluxations (stuck joints). But actual movement also need to be carried out. Sitting on your rump is not movement.

So if you want to win the lottery, you’ve gotta buy a ticket. And if you want to get the most out of your movable body, well you figure it out. But may I suggest you not be a sitting duck?


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