Best of January 2016
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best new performance-related research, articles, podcasts and videos that we found on the internet over the past month. By no means is this list exhaustive, just some of the things that we came across and liked from January 2016.
We learned and explored some cool concepts this month and really got into the role that stability plays in facilitating strength and optimal movement patterns. We read and listened to some awesome stuff on shoulder stability, trunk stability, and foot stability. We also learned a lot this month about cultivating grit and mental toughness, and how it’s one of the most important aspects of reaching our highest potential both athletically, and in life. We also got really into the idea of ditching support structures (tape, braces, belts, straps, in some cases shoes, etc), cutting away the BS, and getting to the core of good movement. We read some awesome articles on it and wrote our own take on it as well.
So without further ado, here’s our Best of January 2016!
- A cool study looking at the role that mechanical stimulation can play in reducing muscle scarring and repairing muscle tissue. Exciting implications for mechanical stimulation as a treatment method over drugs and cell injections:
- How well you’re able to move will determine how susceptible you are to injury. This new study from The British Journal of Sports Medicine looks at this concept in collegiate athletics:
- An interesting look at changes in multifidi function and pain receptor sensitivity in those who “responded” to dry needling for low back pain, versus those who didn’t:
- An interesting study from the latest issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, looking at the use of biomarkers to better understand post-training recovery and to find optimal training intensity:
- Further evidence of the benefits of proprioceptive training in dramatically reducing a number of different injuries. This study, in the latest issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, looked at proprioceptive training in professional men’s basketball players:
- A couple of interesting new research infographics from YLM Sports Science:
- The abdominal muscles are one of the most prized, and some of the least understood in the mainstream world. Everyone wants to have a 6-pack. Some people have heard that the “core” is important for movement and being strong. So we do crunches like crazy and try to lose belly fat. But are we missing the big picture? Are the abdominal muscles one muscle group or a number of different muscles, with different functions and different requirements? What’s the best way to train a functionally strong core that also looks good? Meghan Callaway has the answers in her awesome new article:
- Ever since reading The Rise of Superman (check out our review of it here), we’ve been huge fans of The New York Times best-selling author Steven Kotler. He’s the best around at not only exploring the world of flow and performance psychology at the deepest of levels, but also being able to articulate his findings in a way that leaves us both smarter and inspired. Check out his recent article on grit, will-power, and performing your best when the pressure is on. And then scroll down and listen to his brilliant conversation with Michael Gervais in the podcast section.
- One of the most in-depth articles out there exploring the role of spinal flexion, and whether or not it should be avoided at all costs. Like will all things, the answer seems to be that it depends on the circumstances. And while maintaining a neutral spine as a goal still seems like a safe bet, we should be able to at least again consider flexion in certain circumstances without the sky falling. This article, from Greg Lehman, is one of the best articles we’ve seen exploring both sides of the argument:
- Mike Ritter shares with us eight valuable lessons that he has learned over the last eight years in the fitness and nutrition world:
- Really interesting article on some of the finer points of motor control, perception, cognition, feedback loops, and learning new movement from Todd Hargrove and Andy Clark. If you enjoy learning about learning, or exploring how the body works, give this article a read!
- You’ve may or may not have heard about flotation/sensory deprivation/isolation tanks, as they’re beginning to become mainstream. There’s some research coming out showing the benefits of floating for the body and mind and a number of professional athletes have started incorporating floating into their recovery. It’s great for total relaxation and for performing visualization practices. I personally am a regular “floater” and find huge benefits in it, both physically and mentally. If you’re considering giving the tank a try, or if this is your first time hearing about flotation tanks and you want more info, please check out this brilliant article from Common Hero Project founder, Chase Anderson:
- Public opinion surrounding running is that it’s one of the safest sports out there. If running is one of the most basic human movements, one that we learn very early on in life, it’s gotta be safe right? The reality, however, is that very few people in our culture can have a regular running practice without having chronic pain. Many times that pain either leads to serious issues (when we run through it) or it causes us to quit running altogether. This brilliant article from Christina Nowack takes a critical look at our relationship to running and what we should be doing to ensure that we can create, and maintain, a healthy running practice:
- Everybody wants to be strong. Having strength, and expressing it, helps us to prevent injuries, keeping us healthy and moving well throughout our lives. Oh and it also makes us feel like badasses. So if we just lift heavy shit, then we should get strong, right? That’s certainly one way of doing things (one that many times ends in injury and debilitation). If you read any of our stuff, you know that we’re all about learning from the ground up and developing a good basis for movement before adding on strength, speed, or power. That’s why we loved this article from Chris Abbott so much. He does a great job of exploring breath and body control and he shows us how to use them to create true, whole-body strength:
- Any teacher, coach, trainer, or person responsible for helping others to achieve their goals will appreciate this article. We so often find ourselves trying to figure out how to get the most out of people; pushing them beyond where they think that they can go, but not so far so as to turn them off from what we’re trying to do. Lance Goyke addresses this issue well and gives us some important things to think about:
- There’s a huge movement of ditching the support structures (in this case shoes) and getting back to moving in a natural way with our bodies themselves interfacing with the environment as much as possible. This is the best way to create stability in our own tissues (instead of from support structures) and to create full body strength. Dr. Mario Novo brilliantly explored this concept this month by looking at the benefits of barefoot strength training and how to get started with it:
Excellent Podcasts & Videos
- Brian Rose, from London Real, does not sit down with his guest, movement master Ido Portal, for his latest podcast. While this is the first podcast that we’ve seen with Ido that’s a “moving conversation”, it seems like there shouldn’t be any other way of interviewing and learning from the man. We really enjoyed this conversation on movement and philosophy, and we know that you guys will as well. Here’s the first half of the conversation, head over to London Real Academy site, using the link below, for the full version.
- Joe Rogan has former UFC and WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit, and MovNat founder Erwan Le Corre, on the podcast to discuss all things movement and MMA:
- We’re huge fans of both Dr. Perry Nickelston and Katy Bowman, so anytime they can get together for a conversation, we’re going to check it out. In this podcast, they dive into “nutritious movement”, optimizing the foot, and the biomechanics of various everyday movements:
- You guys know that we’re huge fans of Michael Gervais and his new podcast Finding Mastery. He gives us a unique view into the world of performance psychology by having converstations with some of the most interesting and inspirational athletes and performers out there. In this podcast, with plant-powered ultra athlete Rich Roll, they talk about overcoming personal struggles, transforming pain into self-growth, and using your desire to show others what’s possible as a fuel for greatness:
- Gervais sits down with Steven Kotler to discuss Flow, productivity, writing, overcoming injury and illness, and developing the grit that it requires to become your best self.
- Joe has Primal Blueprint creator Mark Sisson on the podcast to dispel many common diet and lifestyle myths and to share what his own version of living an awesome life looks like:
New from Higher Performance Network
We kicked off 2016 with a couple of articles. First, we looked at how to get back on track with our New Year’s goals after we fall off the wagon and what a smarter approach to reaching our goals looks like. Then, we looked at the cost of using tape, straps, braces, belts, chalk, and other training aids on our ability to move well and stay injury-free.
- We take a look at why the use of tape, straps, braces, belts, and chalk to improve performance may actually be making you weak and causing further imbalances in your body. This is really part of a larger issue of creating strength and athleticism in the natural body, true strength that can be applied to any circumstances, not just when we have our exo-skeleton on. We also look at how sometimes the need to perform trumps all of this, and we need to do whatever we can to get in the game and be at our best.
- It’s almost become comical how every year people get excited with their New Year’s resolutions, and usually about a week into it (for some a day or two) people have already given up and fallen back into their old routines. Maybe it’s time to step back and look at how we’re going about setting, and achieving, our goals. We take a look at how we can start over, and this time, do it the right way. Get back on track and get the most out of your 2016 goals.
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