Blog Archives

Book Recommendations

While I’m not too frequently asked for book recommendations (as I often over load my patients and clients with information anyway!), specific topics come up a lot, and more importantly, the vital questions that people are asking show that they want what are in some of the books I recommend most. This list covers the topics I see people wanting and needing to know more about most. Do note, I receive no incentives for suggesting these, they’re just damn good useful books!

“Crazy Sexy Kitchen” – Kris Carr
A cookbook based on simple, natural, whole food cooking. Kris Carr is an interesting story as she should be a terminal cancer patient…and well, still is. On the ending stages of an inoperable cancer she changed her lifestyle entirely, with the foundation being based on optimal nutrition. This book is representative of much of what she has done, in a condition that is largely based on what we put into our bodies. Also, the food is delicious!

“Isa Does It” – Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Definitely my personal favorite chef, and one of her best cookbooks. She also has a website: Isa is based on vegan cooking, though if that isn’t your thing you don’t have to go full vegan. That said, we’ve NEVER had a dud recipe; every single one has been mouth wateringly delicious. Every recipe is also devoutly healthy and can be done without too much expense (some more than others).

“The Obesity Epidemic” – Zoe Hareombe
Probably the most important book on this list. So much of our cultural basic “knowledge,” or rather our cultural position, on nutrition and metabolic health is painfully, shamefully wrong. Due in large part to old, outdated, bad science which has been shown over and over to be wrong (and NEVER shown to be right), and the companies which make money off of this, has been propagated for a hundred years. This is largely the myth that fat loss is simply calories in – calories out (eat less, exercise more), but this is horribly flawed. Fat is also not the devil, sugar is, as far as we’re concerned. This book is pretty accessible, if mildly dry, and will give you the information to understand your metabolism and relationship with food so much better.

“Mastering Leptin” – Byron Richards CCN
This, along with The Obesity Epidemic are the two biggest nutritional texts I can recommend. Leptin is the king of hormones, especially for metabolism; it lets the body know how much stored reserve energy it has, from which it decides mental function, immune function, muscle building, energy, etc. It is the key to the metabolism and the loop of obesity in many ways. It’s a pretty easy read and is about a lot more than obesity.

“Good Calories Bad Calories” – Gary Taubes
Definitely the most dry of the three nutrition books here, and the most dense, but is one of the best out there for someone who really wants to understand nutrition for the sake of a long, healthy life. We have some horribly flawed beliefs about nutrition, and this will help fix many of those.

“Becoming Vegan” and “Becoming Vegetarian” – Davis Melina
If you want to become vegan or vegetarian for any given reason, fantastic, but I recommend these books to anyone interested in nutrition because they are actually some of the best general and basic nutrition guides I have found, going into good explanations of specific macro and micronutrients, and other food info.

“Move Your DNA” – Katy Bowman
Katy Bowman is one of my movement heroes; working hard to educate and change the most damaging movement habits of our culture. This isn’t just about desk ergonomics, but how movement affects everything from back pain to obesity to heart disease and more. Her work is superbly accessible to anyone, and she also has an excellent site filled with good articles, blogs and podcasts that are all gloriously informative and fun. I naturally have some disagreements with her on certain points as she is a biomechanist (human mechanical engineer) while I am a neurokinetic therapist (human electrical engineer [the system which controls the mechanical side of the body], who also works on mechanics), but overall this doesn’t stop any of her material from being seriously helpful for anyone who wants to improve their overall health, mobility, and longevity.

“Ultimate MMA Conditioning” – Joel Jamieson
If you are looking at sports performance and general conditioning improvement, this is by far the best book I have seen that can be read by the lay-person. I have my own version of the same text if you want to get it for less than the $40-50 price tag this book has. Most people don’t need to employ these techniques because their body simply doesn’t need to be pushed that hard in such specific ways to improve, but for those who really want to pursue competitive performance of any kind, this is a mecca of information.

“The Power of Habit” – Charles Duhigg
Whether you’re trying to fix your sleeping habits, your diet, or trying to get yourself to write every day, habit is a complicated entity and process. It is complex neuro-science at it’s core and our lives really are made up of habit. This book wil help you understand it and change it. Take control of your life and change it for the better.

“The Art Of Happiness” – HH Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
This may be a book you’d expect to see on this list, but this is really one of my top books that all humans should read (and the occasional anxiety ridden ape!). Someone who is able to approach a wide range of situations and opportunities with happiness before, instead of just after, has such a better chance of living a good life. Both in health, and satisfaction. This is far beyond a worthy read.

Back pain, balance, ankle stability and more.

My box of rocks!

My box of rocks!

This is my box of rocks. It is one of my favorite toys/tools in my living room. Enjoying it daily improves my back and ankle stability, making my core work better and decreasing the chance of any injury between the toes and belly button (and some above). It improves my balance, and overall movement among other benefits. So how does my box of rocks give me anything like the benefits I just described? I walk in/through it. I stand in it. I put my feet in it and grip the stones with my toes and wiggle through the small pile I’ve assembled. The benefits come largely through something called proprioceptors and other mechanoreceptors. These are a range of nerve cells through your skin and deeper tissues that let your brain know what’s going on. How fast tissues are moving, how much pressure is being exerted on them, temperature and texture, and these nerve bodies are also what let you know where your limbs are and what they’re up to, even when you’re not looking at them.

Unfortunately for essentially the entirety of the Western world, and most of the entire human population at this point, many of these nerve bodies have been handicapped severely. Humans have been walking the plains, forests, deserts, and other natural settings for over 200,000 years as the specific species branch we are today, and over 2,000,000 years as something pretty similar to what we are now. There have been some adaptations and evolution, of course, just within the homo sapiens sapiens branch, but almost the entirety of our existence and ‘design’ in whatever way you mean it, walking on the Earth. Whether this was sand, dirt, rocks or plant life our feet have always been our connection to the world more directly than anything else. The texture and hardness of the ground, it’s drops and inclines. All this information, this data, and so much more is collected in our feet through their direct and uninhibited contact with the ground to message the brain about the environment and make decisions about not only where to put our feet step after step, but to set timing and organization for contracting muscles around the core, spine, hips and legs to not just move you but keep the fine detail of muscle use to keep things stable and safe no matter the movements you’re going through.

Shoes have existed for quite a while in our ‘modern’ culture, but as shoes have evolved they have become more and more rigid on the bottom as well as padded, cutting off our connection from the world. They have become more ‘shoe shaped’ instead of foot shaped, pinching our toes, lifting our heel, taking over the responsibility of holding up our own arch, and many other issues that places the foot in a rigid position where it doesn’t even have it’s full range of motion AND for those nerve bodies does the same thing as wearing earplugs would do to our hearing. Some gets through, but not much, and probably not enough! On top of this, over the last several decades every surface of our world has become completely flat and quite hard. Even carpet which is a bit padded is completely flat. Concrete, linoleum, hardwood floors. Our feet weren’t meant for such surfaces. Imagine watching nothing but the TV guide channel all day on TV, your brain would just eject! And this is what our mechanoreceptors are doing, to the detriment of out entire body.

So where does my box of rocks come in? Reawakening those mechanoreceptors, the proprioceptors and getting the foot working again. The name of the game is barefoot nerve stimulation. Simply walking through it each time I pass to the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom, or out the door without shoes. And when I’m outside, hopefully walking in grass and dirt and anything else I can manage. Have back pain? Hip, knee or foot pain? This is part of your equation and part of the solution. Pick up rocks in nature, or even go to a craft store and buy some. Mix up the sizes, shapes and textures. Make some a bit sharper (but not puncturing sharp!) and rougher with others smooth. Some tiny pebbles, some medium sized rocks. I just put this together the other day, it will be growing and diversifying but it’s a start! If your feet are less prepared for such stimulation and the toughness of the rocks, start with smoother ones and just stand in it. Or even put it in front of your chair at your desk, kick off your shoes and socks, and just let your feet play! Pretend they’re swimming and let them grip and move through the stones on their own.

It seems silly to some, I’m sure, but it can have a profound effect and takes hardly any effort at all to make part of your daily routine. Leave it in the middle of a room, or in front of your desk chair and it’ll be hard to forget.

What Is NKT Anyway?

A lot of my practice exists off the referrals of my patients and clients. So many people frequently go years after an accident, injury or surgery, or just years of some ache/pain/other symptom coming and going and while they may see many practitioners, it just never seems to really go away. I’m frequently the last stop, getting rid of that pain or limitation. However, it often starts with a mixture of “Go to this guy, he’ll get that worked out quick!” And then staggered attempts to describe what I do. I may pinch and pull at scars in certain ways, I’ll tap bones here and there, hold a muscle for a minute or two, and a range of other seemingly random things and somehow the pains just drop away. It’s often hard for even health practitioners to describe to other people what I do, because honestly at first glance (and probably second and third) it’s complicated on top of being new in many ways to most people (again, medical practitioners typically included).

The work I do is in the realm of functional neurology, used for physical rehabilitation (as opposed to most functional neurology DC’s who use their skill sets to help brain health). This side of medicine and science is among the most rapidly developing, but also one of the least practiced in the medical community so isn’t widely known. By physically moving scar tissue, tapping areas of the body, or the range of other ‘weird’ looking techniques I employ, we are able to send signals to the brain and get signals back that let us track down what’s going on. Then by putting the right sequence of stimuli into the brain (via at home corrective work, aka ‘homework’) we can make permanent changes that give us dramatic improvements in pain, discomfort, range of motion, and a wide range of potential issues.

Anyone who I work with gets a bit over loaded with explanations and discussions of how the brain and body works and how their pain/issue likely happened in the first place, among a lot of related topics (If someone hasn’t pointed it out to you yet, I talk a lot! But an informed patient is a far more successful and healthy patient). Despite that, however, I’d like to give you a very short (for me) and distilled explanation of how this all works.

After millions of years of human/pre-human existence, the brain has become exceptionally good at perceiving different kinds of threats and learning how to avoid them. In nature, the two things most likely to get you (among others) are starving, and simple accidents/physical injuries. When the calories and nutrients you take in start to dip (like traditional caloric restriction diets) the body responds by slowing down the metabolism in a myriad of ways to protect itself from running out of stored fat and starving. This is why straight out caloric restriction backfires horrendously in the long run.

When it comes to accidents and injuries, for our human ancestors who lived in the natural world (no cable TV or lattes’, or well, you know, medicine, hospitals and doctors) falling and breaking your hip or leg, or getting a concussion in could be lethal. If you can’t move to avoid predators, get food and water and avoid excessive exposure, you die, simple as that. Unsurprisingly the brain takes injuries and near-injuries (you don’t have to actually damage yourself to have some significant long term repercussions) very seriously. So whether you’ve actually torn a muscle, cut yourself, broken a bone, or been concussed, OR you just took a hard blow, or have a previous injury, the brain and therefore the body react petty similarly; it seeks to protect the body from making the injury worse or getting injured again.

Your body mostly (some situations and some locations in the body differ) chooses to compress joints and limit range of motion in them to protect itself. This is achieved by turning up the activity and ‘tone’ of muscles that compress, and turning down muscles that would decompress. This immediately can cause discomfort or pain as muscles are forced to over work or are stuck in tightened ‘off’ positions, not to mention the potential grinding of the joint (one of the main causes of arthritis), and it just gets worse over time and often with use or exercise. This altered joint position and how the joint now moves because of this change in how it’s being used then often causes a snowball of changes throughout the body. For example if the upper neck is out of place, the whole spine and the shoulders will then have to move differently. If the hips are out of place, the knees, and ankles will definitely have to change in certain ways too. These changes then lead to further changes, etc. etc.

This may not seem like it makes much sense, but for our human ancestors who were most threatened by accidents and similar physical injuries, and who if they were extremely lucky still didn’t get past about 40 years old, these changes were for the best. But today if you’re wanting to rock climb and surf into your 80′s, let alone just avoid arthritis and joint replacements, it gets pretty problematic! The list of what this leads to is enormous, but often may include joint pain (back, hip, knee, shoulder, etc.), stiffness and poor mobility, chronic headaches or heartburn, TMJ, urinary or fecal constipation/incontinence, hernias, numbness and tingling in the extremities, along a long range of other issues. Most people have some of these, and may just think it’s normal, but they can almost always be fixed.

So what do we do about it? The simple but straight forward answer is that we use techniques to find out what impact injuries, scars, and other sources of ‘threatening’ traumas the brain is neurologically reacting to by changing joint position and tissue function and then with some corrective ‘homework’ we are able to show the brain that these previous incidents aren’t actually threatening and can be ignored. We que them by tapping areas or messing with scars, rubbing muscles and doing light exercises in just the right sequence. We clear off one or a few of these issues at a time until they’re gone, and then the brain and body is able to operate pretty close to ‘factory settings,’ no longer driving in long term damage and wear on the joints, poor movement and mobility, and existing in a state of pain. Once the brain doesn’t feel threatened by previous events, it simply doesn’t need to operate differently and can get back to more optimum, ideal posture and movement.

In some cases we may include some manual therapy (various kinds of massage) or movement therapy, but overall the process is pretty quick. I see most people a total of 3-5 times (some more complicated cases take longer), about once a month until we are finished permanently.

Ground sitting for hip, core and back health.

For the majority of those in our culture, getting up each day to breakfast at a table or in the car to work, 6-10 hours sitting at a desk, then the car back to home for dinner in a chair is the foundation of our movement lifestyle. We spend an incredibly slim amount of time doing anything but sitting, when sitting is actually a fairly ‘recent’ development for our species. At the same time, back and hip pain is rife in our society, with an overall severe ‘movement malnutrition.’

An esteemed member of the rehab and corrective world, Kathy Dooley, has done hundreds of dissections and every one that had reported back pain and under developed and atrophied multifidi (deep stabilizing muscles in the back along the spine). In a life made of sitting in chairs in a 90 degree position where we train our bodies that the spine itself can take the weight instead of our muscles, we simply don’t spend any time using these muscles so it is no surprise that they are most frequently atrophied. The under use of these vital back muscles leave us with poor strength and endurance to stabilize the spine and hold our back up, and by simply spending our life sitting our brain doesn’t really know how to use these spinal muscles anymore on it’s own, so we slouch or hold bad posture when we aren’t sitting (and when we are, actually).

The multifidi muscles.

The multifidi muscles.

Our core is made up of numerous muscles, all of them together holding the spine and the torso, but few of them work in our culture because of how we live. Without giving up your 9-5 desk job, be it just a job or your calling, we can do a lot to overturn and prevent the back pain that most of us are destined for. By simply spending time sitting straight each day we can take back some of the strength and endurance the multifidi need as well as teaching the brain how to use the muscles again to stabilize the back and body. Starting with just a minute or so a day and going from there adding more time each day, especially coupled with getting up and moving around regularly more often, so much of back pain can be stopped and prevented. Below are two simple but highly effective sitting ‘techniques.’

Cross Legged Sitting

Cross Legged Sitting

Simple cross legged sitting on the ground. Keep your head tall and your spine straight. Start with this sitting each day, for a minute or two at a time.

'Hero Pose' sitting.

‘Hero Pose’ sitting.

Far more difficult for most people to start with, this can also help with hip mobility and stability. Once you can do the first sitting approach (cross legged) for several minutes straight comfortably, try this. A pillow on top of your feet, under your butt, may be a good way to start until your hips are comfortable with it.

The Pain Gate: A Drug Free Way To Minimize Or Stop Pain

The Pain Gate: Speaking broadly, there are two speeds at which nerve impulses are transmitted throughout our bodies. One at about a second, and another at about a tenth of a second. Sensations of hot or cold, the feeling of something touching your skin, and many other similar sensations travel at the faster speed. The slower speed is a system which is used for transmitting most kinds of pain. This is in large part why if you cut your finger, while you know it’s going to hurt, it may take a moment or two to actually start being in pain.

When you do cut your finger, we’ve always been told to stick it under cold water. When you stub your toe you stop to rub it. But why do we do this, why would this help the pain at all? The fact is, it does work, and the theory describing it is called the pain gate. When faster signaling nerves are firing in the same location, it seems to crowd the pathway, blocking or at least obscuring the pain signal.

This is the mechanism that Rock Tape, fascial movement tape, uses to diminish pain with remarkable effectiveness. The moment it is applied many kinds of pain are decreased substantially. This can also contribute to down-regulating pain nerves which have been stuck over firing for a long period of time. Whether short term or chronic pain, Rock Tape is one of the best pain reduction tools available, all without using organ damaging pharmaceuticals (which also means it does not conflict with any current medication, so can help in addition to any other medications you may be on). It also perfectly combines with BioFreeze or Rock Tape‘s ‘Rock Juice’ which in addition to skin contact for pain gate effects, ads a cooling effect, compounding the effects of the pain gate on minimizing pain.

To purchase Rock Tape or have it professionally applied, or just for more information, please feel free to contact us.
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