Eating Fats

Can Eating Fats Make You……Fat?

Eating FatsThere are about 4, 230, 984 diets available to the average consumer.  Most of these diets pick on a certain macronutrient that doesn’t fit its agenda and create a misguided plan to attack it.  One of the macronutrients that tends to confuse people and has developed a bad reputation because of this misperception is fat.  After all, doesn’t it make sense that eating more fat will make you fat?  The answer to that is probably not – unless of course you are eating an enormous amount of food that happens to contain fat.  In that case, you are consuming an excess amount of calories that will contribute to weight gain.  So, what causes fat accumulation and obesity if eating healthy fats doesn’t?  Also, how are healthy fats good for you?

Insulin’s Role

A major player in fat accumulation is a hormone called insulin.  Insulin is primarily released when carbohydrates are ingested, although other molecules in digestion contribute as well.  At first glance it may seem like insulin is a madman wreaking havoc inside your body.  However, the hormone is necessary for proper digestion.  Having said that, you don’t want it running wild and unchecked.  Then what does insulin do exactly?  Here are a few functions of the hormone:

  1. It tells your body to store excess carbohydrates as glycogen in your liver and muscle.  Once those sites are full, insulin tells your body to store excess carbs as fat in your adipose tissue.
  2. It suppresses the release of Glucagon – a hormone that tells your body to utilize fat and glycogen for energy.  This hormone decreases fat percentage in the body.
  3. It suppresses growth hormone – a hormone that contributes to muscle development and mass.  Muscle burns more calories than fat, so maintaining muscle actually helps battle fat accumulation.

As you can see, insulin can contribute to fat accumulation multiple ways.  It essentially tells your brain and body to store more energy as fat (energy that is commonly known as calories).  This was advantageous when humans spent days searching for food and calories were hard to come by.  By having excess energy available in storage, your body could go longer without a meal.  However, we live in a society where food is prevalent and we do not typically need to store excess energy.

Typical American Diet

Unfortunately, it is estimated that the typical American diet is roughly 50% carbohydrates – a big initiator of insulin activity.  Even worse, the predominant source for Americans are refined carbohydrates.  Refined carbohydrates tend to be higher on the glycemic index and promote the release of a substantial amount of insulin.  This elevated insulin will cause the body to quickly absorb glucose in the blood, promote energy storage as glycogen and fat, and will even progressively lead to another bout of hunger shortly after you have eaten!  This is because it lowers blood glucose rapidly.  Your body monitors blood glucose levels and when they get too low it initiates the feeling of hunger.  This can create cyclical, compulsive eating habits!

If increased amounts of carbohydrates are a major contributor to obesity, then what do healthy fats do?  To begin with, they are a good source of calories that your body needs for energy.  The calories used from healthy fats can be used to replace the calories from the excessive amount of carbohydrates that Americans typically consume.  This is beneficial because healthy fats satiate you, or make you feel fuller, more effectively than carbs.  In addition, healthy fats do not cause a spike in the release of insulin like many of the carbohydrates we consume.

Important Roles With Your Body

Also, healthy fats participate in many important roles within your body.  To begin with, many crucial vitamins and minerals for your overall health are fat soluble.  If your meal does not contain healthy fats, your body will struggle to absorb these important building blocks!  In addition healthy fats contribute to:

  1. Cell Health – your cells are surrounded by a membrane that regulates its internal and external environment.  What is this membrane made from?  Predominantly fats.
  2. Nervous System Health – Healthy fats contribute to the composition of your brain.  It is roughly 60% fat!  In addition, it coats the nerves of your body.  This coat, also known as myelin, insulates your nerves so that they can conduct their electrical messages without obstruction.
  3. Fats make up your hormones – Hormones regulate a lot of physiology in your body.  Examples of hormones include estrogen and testosterone, but there are many more
  4. There are many more benefits that we may not even be aware of yet.

Unfortunately, not all fat is created equal.  Trans-fats permeate the typical American diet.  These are the unhealthy fats you may have heard about.  They promote the proliferation of LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and lower the levels of HDL cholesterol (the good one).  LDL cholesterol contributes to clogged arteries by depositing itself into arteries and forming plaques that contribute to atherosclerosis.  HDL cholesterol actually removes LDL cholesterol from artery walls and brings it back to the liver for reprocessing or excretion.  Therefore you need to be wary of trans-fats when you are making healthy fat diet choices to maintain a good ratio of HDL to LDL!

As you can see, healthy fats don’t typically make you fat.  Obesity is the result of a very complex metabolic pathway regulated by a major player – insulin.  Even so, there is no reason to throw out all of the carbohydrates in your pantry.  They serve an important role just like healthy fats.  However, you need to avoid sources of carbs that may be high on the glycemic index just like you need to minimize trans-fats in your diet.  Fats in your diet are not your enemy.  They are just a misunderstood friend.

Additional Resources:

  1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/18/pasta-not-bacon-makes-you-fat-but-how.aspx
  2. http://www.newhealthguide.org/Function-Of-Fats-In-The-Body.html
Normal Structure

Got Curves?

Normal StructureDid you know your spine has a number of curves when viewed from the side? These curves, according to engineering principles, help the spine protect itself from compressive loads. As your spine shifts away from what is considered normal (measurements derived from chiropractic, medical, surgical, physical therapy texts and journals) it causes abnormal loading of your spine. It is a similar concept to the normal range of blood pressure in your body. As you get farther away from normal blood pressure (120/80 mmHg), you may have issues that require an intervention such as modifying your diet or taking prescribed medications. With respect to you spine, as it shifts farther away from normal it will lead to arthritis, muscle spasm, pain and more. It even puts your spinal cord and nerves under neurological degenerative strain which can unfortunately obstruct the electrical wiring of the body. What is normal and why haven’t you heard this before?

What’s Normal

A normal spine has a number of curves that bend in opposite ways. The cervical spine and lumbar spine are concave toward your back, while your thoracic spine and sacrum are concave toward the front of your body. When they are within range of the normal accepted angles, the load is placed appropriately on the spine. This means stress and strain will be absorbed properly and the spine will function as it should. If, for example, your cervical spine (neck) shifts away from normal it can put additional stress on the vertebral bodies. Sandwiched between these vertebral bodies – like hamburger meat in between 2 buns – are your vertebral discs. As the stress shifts onto the vertebral bodies it can squeeze the discs and can contribute to bulging and eventually a herniated disc. This is a painful ordeal that can cause pain and affect your nervous system. Many, if not most of the cases of disc herniation, appear to be the result of these abnormal loads. It is not crazy to think the disc issue plaguing many in the country can be corrected by working on normal spinal alignment.

Why You Haven’t Heard About This Before

It appears to be a relatively new phenomenon in the research world. The past decade has seen a tremendous influx of papers from all types of journals on this topic. For the longest time people believed that the spine could essentially take on any form it wanted and that was normal. However, with advances in technology such as functional MRI and 3d CT scans, we can see this is not the case. Because of this, there are now standards for the angles of certain aspects of the spine. Isn’t it cool to think you can have someone measure these angles via x-ray, posture grid analysis, and other means to determine if your spine is within normal limits? It used to be a guessing game but with the advent of new viewing technology it is becoming much more objective.

As I mentioned previously, the research is beginning to pour in. Soon our society may look at the spine the same way that we evaluate normal body temperature, vision, or blood pressure. The understanding of normal will continue to evolve and practitioners who stay on top of this will be armed with the appropriate tools to address abnormal spinal alignment. Fortunately, there are already some very good ways to address this. Chiropractors who focus on Structural Correction are typically a very good source of information on this topic. Don’t take your spinal health for granted – see how you compare to normal.

 

Farmed Fish

Are Farmed Fish Bad for You?

Farmed FishFish are one of the best sources for the animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.  There are many additional health benefits to eating them as well.  However, are all fish created equal?  It appears farmed fish offer less benefits relative to wild caught fish and are riddled with pollutants and other chemicals.  In addition, Omega-3 fats may be reduced by as much as 50% in farmed fish!  Industrial fish farming is a fast growing industry and about half of the United States’ seafood comes from fish farms.

Why Is This A Problem?

To begin with, the industry is plagued with many similar problems that land-based concentrated animal feeding operations endure.  Many farmed fish are fed genetically modified corn and soy, which is not part of the natural diet for their species.  In addition, because of the close proximity in which farmed fish are raised, there is a higher probability that all of them will become infected with pathogens when one becomes ill.  This means the fish on your plate at dinner may be harboring disease within it!

To combat pathogens and other issues that occur with close-quarter feeding operations, fish farmers utilize concentrated antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals in the pens where the fish are raised.  This can be problematic because farmed fish have a relatively high fat content compared to wild fish.  Since most pollutants and chemicals are fat-soluble, farm-raised fish can store larger amounts of harmful chemicals within the fat of their body.  You are probably getting a lot more than just a mouthful of fish when your meal is farm raised!

Finally, many people eat fish for their omega-3 fatty acid benefits.  These include: improved cardiovascular health, reduced ADHD symptoms, reduced inflammation, improved brain and spine health (big emphasis on healthy fats in our practice), and more.  It is believed that omega-3 fatty acids are reduced in farmed fish because of their grain diets.  In addition, farmed fish contain five times as much omega-6 – a fatty acid that is pro-inflammatory.  Americans already get 10-20 times too much omega-6 as they need from their diet (Americans don’t eat healthy diets on the whole).  You may actually be doing more harm than good when trying to get a natural source of omega 3!

Reduced Benefits & Possibly Harmful

Farmed fish are often ill, filled with chemicals, and offer less omega-3 fatty acids than wild caught fish.  Essentially, the benefits that come from eating fish are reduced and they may actually be harmful to the consumer.  Always check the label of the fish you are purchasing to see if it is wild caught or farm raised and opt for wild caught when you can.  According to Dr. Mercola, wild-caught Alaskan and Sockeye salmon are some of the least contaminated and healthy fish options for US residents.  Don’t forget, you are what you eat!

Additional info:  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/06/01/best-seafood.aspx

Image courteous of:  https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2012/04/13/21/31/fish-33712_960_720.png

What Is Best For Muscle Growth

Hi Reps, Low Reps, No Reps – What Is Best For Muscle Growth?

What Is Best For Muscle GrowthThere are many schools of thought when it comes to lifting weights.  Should you only lift heavy if you want your muscles to grow more efficiently and gain strength faster?  Does lifting light weight for more repetitions “tone” your body?  What is the difference between doing 3 sets versus 456 sets during a workout session (I am sure everyone has seen this person who never leaves the gym).  There is no definitive answer that I am aware of.  However, in this blog I will summarize the data from a research article I stumbled across recently.

What Studies Show

To begin with, does lifting heavy weight for less repetitions produce more growth than lifting light weight for higher repetitions?  According to this study the answer is no – contingent that both are lifted to muscle failure.  When you lift to complete fatigue, your muscles are forced to recruit everymyofibril they can to move the weight.  Therefore, lifting heavier does not recruit more of your muscle than lifting lighter when exercising to failure.  As a matter of fact, this study found that lifting lighter to fatigue actually caused more myofibrillar protein synthesis rates 24 hours after exercise.  Is this significant?  The researchers believe that this may be predictive of long term gains in muscle.

How many sets should you do if you want to achieve optimal muscle growth?  According to this study, you develop more muscle growth doing 3 sets rather than 1 set.  This follows the same concept as discussed above.  As you do more sets, your muscles fatigue and are forced to recruit more muscle fibers.  When more muscle fibers are recruited, the body responds by creating growth to counter the demand placed upon it.  Then what is better, 3 sets or 15?  The answer to this is unclear and is probably dependent on the individual.  However, it appears clear that doing higher volume within reason tends to be more beneficial for growth.

Improving Strength & Increasing One Rep Max

What about if you want to improve your strength and increase your one repetition max?  The study found that lifting heavier weights is actually more beneficial than lifting lighter weights for more repetitions.  These observations are in line with previous work that has shown that strength gains are due to a combination of muscle hypertrophy and neural adaptations.  It makes sense that if you want to improve your one rep max you need to train using similar high weight, low rep movements that increase a similar demand on your muscles and nervous system.

It appears that muscle growth is not dependent on how heavy the weights are you lift as long as you lift to failure.  In addition, the study found that long term muscle growth may actually benefit more from a high repetition, low weight strategy.  With respect to volume, it seems that more sets increases muscle growth.  If you are looking to increase your one repetition max, you may need to train heavier though.  This is only one study and information is best gathered when taking a look at the body of research on the topic.  However, the information provided is useful when you are developing a gym strategy based on your goals.  Need help developing a plan?  You can always visit our health partners, The Rochester Gym, for advice.

Image courteous of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/5268559005

Anterior Head Syndrome

What Does Your Head Posture Say About You?

Anterior Head SyndromeHave you ever looked around a room and noticed some people’s heads tend to rest a little farther forward on their body than others? If you haven’t, maybe you were in a room where everybody was afflicted with this abnormal head position! Our head posture has deteriorated with the advent of technology like cell phones and tablets. A typical user spends hours a day looking down at these devices. As we do, our head begins to assume a more forward head posture – or what we refer to in our office as Anterior Head Syndrome. Your head moving forward of a normal position is no different than your car being forced out of alignment. It puts stress on many areas of the body.

So What Kind of Damage Can This Cause?

To begin with, anterior head syndrome stretches your entire spinal cord. How is this possible? Your spinal cord is anchored firmly to the skull by dura mater at an area called the foramen magnum and also to the bottom of your spine at a bone called the sacrum. In between the skull and sacrum are 21 pairs of soft tissue attachments that connect your spinal cord (via the pia mater) to your dura mater. When your head is within a normal range the dura mater connections at the skull remain relatively “loose” and no neurological degenerative strain is passed to your spinal cord. However, as your head moves forward your spinal cord lengthens. This creates strain that is transmitted through the dura mater to your entire spinal cord via dentate ligaments! It is similar to stretching a rubber band. The tension doesn’t remain local, it is transmitted throughout its entirety. Physical therapists in Egypt actually used this principle to address lower back pain and sciatica in patients with abnormal head posture. They found that reducing anterior head syndrome in people with low back pain actually relieved their symptoms!

Why Does This Matter?

For one, your spinal cord and nerves are the electrical wiring of your body. The proper operation of your body is no different than the proper operation of your house or car – it is dependent on electrical signals. If there is an electrical obstruction in your house you might find that your lights flicker, wall sockets don’t work effectively, and your microwave constantly resets the time. What do you think might happen if the electrical wiring to your muscles, glands, heart and intestines were obstructed?

This tension also affects hemodynamics of the brain – the processes that are involved in moving blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in and out of the skull. How is this so? When the aforementioned dentate ligaments become taut secondary to anterior head syndrome, there is an increase in the intramedullary pressure of the spinal cord and its contents. The veins in this area do not have valves and are dependent on pressure gradients to direct blood flow in the correct direction. With abnormal head posture, the pressure gradients leaving the skull are increased and CSF may not flow out of the skull like it should. This is problematic because CSF bathes your brain with nutrients as well as removes toxic material!

As you now know, anterior head syndrome can have a number of effects on your body. With continued reliance on technology our head posture is only getting worse. Fortunately, there are ways to address this condition and we utilize a number of methods at Precision Chiropractic to guide your head back to a normal position. It is shocking what kind of effects head position can have. What does your head posture say about you?

Chiropractic For Animals

Did You Know Animals Have Chiropractors Too?

Chiropractic For AnimalsSurprisingly (although maybe it shouldn’t be) animal chiropractors are a specialty within the profession.  After all, many animals have spines with structural issues just like you and me.  Much of the public isn’t aware of this unique area of expertise – and truthfully I am not sure how they would.  After all, I went through 4 years of chiropractic school without knowing such a specialty existed.  Since humans develop structural shifts of the spine, there is no doubt animals can as well.  Fortunately, there are skilled practitioners capable of helping our furry friends.

Schooling Differences?

Can anyone who went to traditional chiropractic school adjust an animal spine then?  In a number of states the answer is yes.  The problem is, just because they can, should they?  My opinion is only chiropractors and veterinarians who have trained post-grad with animals and then certified in a national program should adjust animal spines.  Reason being, animals are typically quadrupeds (walk on 4 legs) versus people who are bipedal (walk on 2 legs).  Because we walk more upright, gravity affects our spine differently.  Due to this, the biomechanics of the spine are altered and what we are trained to do for people may not be effective for your pet dog, cat, horse or any other critter you consider a pet.

When You Need An Animal Chiropractor

What are some potential issues that indicate a need for animal chiropractic?  One major indicator is a limp.  A limp is a sign of discomfort and should be evaluated even if it resolves by the end of the day.  Animals evolved in the wild and many of their instincts developed to keep them alive.  Showing any weakness may mean they are dinner for something higher up on the food chain.  Therefore, their body will compensate to disguise any ailments from potential predators.  Another possible sign is “puppy sitting”, or side sitting.  Everyone has seen an adorable Labrador puppy side sitting and wondered if there was anything cuter on the planet.  What they may not know is that this behavior is not healthy for dogs after 18 months of age.  As they get older, it can be a sign of structural hip and spine issues.

What should you look for then if your pet is in need?  The largest post grad training in animal chiropractic is run by the IVCA and AVCA.  This stands for the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association and American Veterinary Chiropractic Association respectively.  Before having an animal treated it may be a good idea to confirm the practitioner’s credentials.  After all, pets are like children for many – and we want what is best for them.

Your pets deserve a quality animal chiropractor just like you.  Fortunately, Precision Chiropractic has teamed up with Dr. Christina Cole of Advanced Animal Chiropractic to bring your pets the care they deserve.  She is a health business in our VIP card program created for practice members and will offer a discount on her initial exam.  If you think your pet may be in need, don’t hesitate to contact her.  Your pup, kitten, horse and even bunny will be glad you did.

Super Foods

If You Are What You Eat, Do Super Foods Give You Special Powers?

Super FoodsHave you ever heard the expression you are what you eat?  I grew up 1/3 man, 1/3 chicken fingers, and 1/3 fish sticks.  I somehow survived my childhood eating the way I did – but could I have been healthier, stronger, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound?  The truth is, you really are what you eat.  Your body continuously replaces its cells and the materials come from what you consume!  With that being said, doesn’t it make sense to eat foods that have the most nutrients for your body to create new, healthy parts?

Super foods by definition are foods that are more nutrient-rich than their standard counterparts, but does this really matter?  I suppose it depends how you want your body built.  Think about your body like the house of your dreams.  Would you possibly want a marble staircase, all new appliances, a massive chandelier, beautiful wooden furniture, and even more intricate design features?  I am guessing you would.  What would happen if you put an order in for all these great features and the contractor told you the only materials available were rotting lumber, cheap plastic, and stained carpet acquired from a dog day care?  I imagine you would be pretty upset about your future living situation.

Your body isn’t much different.  You may not be building mahogany bookshelves in your liver, but you frequently replace the cells responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood stream.  Like your lungs?  You are reproducing the alveoli about every 8 days.  This chart gives you an idea how frequently your body replaces certain parts.  Fairly shocking isn’t it?

Armed with this new knowledge, it seems reasonable to assume we should treat our body to nutrient rich foods frequently.  This is why super foods are a pretty big deal.  They help your body build the “house of your dreams”.  Which foods are super foods then?  Here is a list of a few:

Super Foods

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Quinoa
  • Blueberries
  • Chia seeds
  • Follow this link for more

If you compare lists online you will find that super foods tend to be vegetables and fruits.  If you rarely consume them, adding them to your diet is a great start.

Super foods are not a magic pill that fix everything.  Adding kale to a Big Mac won’t make it healthy.  Instead, gradually replace some meals with nutrient dense alternatives.  Eventually, your goal should be to make them a large majority of your diet.  When you do, your body will become a featured listing in a neighborhood of “fixer uppers”.

-Other good blogs include: http://bembu.com/66-super-foods

-Image provided by http://www.healthandwellnesstoday.com/weight-loss-super-foods-that-burn-fat-like-a-furnace/

Chiropractic For Back and Head Pain

Why is Chiropractic Known for Helping Back Pain, Neck Pain, and Headaches?

Chiropractic For Back and Neck PainWhen I meet new people, I always hear how a chiropractor helped them with their back pain, neck pain, headaches and more.  You would think chiropractic is merely a treatment for these ailments.  Did you know that the goal of care has nothing to do with pain though?  Chiropractors, particularly those who focus on structural correction of the spine, are concerned with stabilizing the spine and returning it to what is considered normal alignment.  If the goal of care isn’t to treat pain directly, then why has the chiropractic profession become associated with symptom relief?

Symptoms From Underlying Issues

The reason for this is that many symptoms (or what we call secondary conditions) occur because of an underlying issue.  Secondary conditions like neck pain, back pain, and headaches are typically not the primary issue causing your discomfort.  To illustrate this, let’s compare your spine to the foundation of a house.  If the foundation of your house sunk in by a couple inches on one side, do you think there may be some cracks that appear in your walls?  Would your windows possibly become more difficult to open and close?  Do you think your floorboards might creak?  As you can see, there are a number of “symptoms” going on in this house.  What you may have also noticed is that the creaking floors, stiff windows, and cracked walls are the result of an underlying issue – a structural shift in the foundation of your house.

Traditional practitioners, regardless of profession, tend to treat symptoms.  They will show up to your house and patch the walls, WD-40 the windows, and put a few more nails in the floorboards.  Will this resolve the issues?  It definitely will.  However, what are the chances your secondary conditions will reappear if you don’t address the foundation?  What you really want is someone who focuses on the foundation of your house to come in and evaluate the support beams, the concrete slab, anchors and other supporting structures.  After that is addressed, it definitely makes sense to address the secondary conditions if they aren’t resolved already.

Your spine is the foundation of your body.  Muscles, blood vessels, nerves, ligaments and more connect to or traverse through your spine.  What would happen if your spine shifted away from normal alignment?  Is it possible that some of the structures connected to your spine may show symptoms such as pain, decreased strength or stiffness?  By addressing the underlying issues with the spine (similar to how architects and engineers analyze buildings) we can stabilize the foundation.  When this occurs, many secondary conditions will resolve.

Why Do You Need To Take Vitamin K2 With Vitamin D

Why Do You Need To Take Vitamin K2 With Vitamin D?

Taking Vitamin K2 With Vitamin DVitamin D is essential for your body to function optimally.  Many of us are aware that Vitamin D supplementation helps the body absorb calcium and can promote strong bones.  That is why it is often prescribed to those afflicted with osteoporosis, or its predecessor, osteopenia.  Did you know Vitamin D has a significant role in many other body functions though?  Vitamin D is involved in the immune system, muscle function, cardiovascular function, respiratory function, brain development and may even have anti-cancer effects (Reference 1).  There are many more implications we are probably not even aware of yet.  Needless to say, deficiencies aren’t a good thing for your overall health.

The primary source for Vitamin D is the sun.  This can be problematic if you live in northern climates where the sun hides for months at a time, or if you don’t go outside often enough to reap the benefits of sunlight. Unfortunately, too much sun exposure  is also linked to skin cancer – especially exposure during peak UV hours.  Therefore, it is not shocking that people might limit the amount of sunlight they receive with these inherent risks looming. Considering this, it seems reasonable to take a Vitamin D supplement to help your overall health goals.
One of the issues with taking Vitamin D is that it does in fact help absorb calcium into the blood stream.  However, what tells the calcium where to go?  Elevated calcium in blood vessels can lead to plaques in the arteries.  This can contribute to atherosclerosis, cardiac disease and stroke.  Seems like a bad thing, right?  The good news is, vitamin K2 is shown to direct calcium to the skeleton for storage (Reference 2).

If you are looking for sources of Vitamin K2, fermented foods seem to be a good start.  Sauerkraut, cheese and nato (a soy dish popular in Japan) appear to be foods with high concentrations of K2.  If you are looking to go the supplement route, you can look for Vitamin D that has Vitamin K2 in it or MK-7 (a specific form of Vitamin K2).

Vitamin D does it all.  It could probably file your taxes if you needed it to.  Being deficient isn’t a good thing.  If you think you may be deficient consider having your blood tested for Vitamin D levels.  With proper supplementation or increased exposure to the sun during non-peak UV hours, you can get the levels your body needs to function optimally.

Reference 1:  https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/what-is-vitamin-d/
Reference 2:  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/19/vitamin-d-vitamin-k2.aspx

When Did Sit-Ups Become Bad For You

When Did Sit-Ups Become Bad For You?

When Did Sit-Ups Become Bad For YouThe Marine Corps started phasing sit-ups out of their PT tests recently. Is it possible that the exercise is too difficult for some of the most fit soldiers walking the planet? The answer is no. It turns out, sit-ups are bad for your spine and can lead to injury. One study found that 56% of soldiers’ injuries during the fitness test were related to sit-ups. They are now looking to replace sit-ups with an exercise known as the plank.

Biomechanically, it makes sense that full sit-ups injure the spine and its discs. There is a normal range of alignment for the spine, just like there is a normal range for blood pressure and body temperature. Sit-ups force the spine forward of a neutral position. There is a certain percentage of load that is typically split between the posterior column of the spine and the anterior column – which includes the vertebral body and disc. Sit-ups force excessive pressure on the anterior elements which will squeeze the vertebral bodies and discs beyond normal. This increased pressure forces the disc to bulge backwards which can lead to a herniation and further injury.

Also, this type of excessive flexion obstructs the electrical wiring of your body (spinal cord and nerves). The proper operation of your body is no different than the proper operation of your house or car. If you have an electrical obstruction in your house you may find that your lights flicker, outlets don’t work, and your microwave clock constantly resets itself. What do you think might happen if there is an obstruction of the electrical system that controls your muscles, glands, and organs?

Fighting wars is hard enough without being sent to battle injured already. It is great that the military is now altering some of their programs as research about the spine continues to be published. There are many more ergonomic recommendations we would make for soldiers, but this is a great start!