Zach Cooper

Zach Cooper is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Licensed Massage Therapist who has committed his life towards helping others improve their health. When he isn't baking waffles or practicing headspins, he spends his time reading fitness research and sharing it with the many intellectual readers who frequent his site.

Aug 052017
 

An interval type workout may be significantly more beneficial than a slower, steady-state type workout.

In a new study, half of the subjects were instructed to perform low-intensity, steady-state cardio for 45 minutes three times per week for 12 weeks.  The other half of subjects performed 10 minutes of high-intensity interval training.  By the completion of the experiment, both groups had lost roughly two percent body fat, increased maximal oxygen uptake by 20 percent, and boosted insulin sensitivity and citrate synthase activity to similar levels.

Considering that both groups saw very similar benefits but the interval group performed only 30 minutes of exercise per week compared to 135 minutes in the steady-state group, this suggests that interval training may be a superior use of time.

Conclusions

Low-intensity, steady-state cardio can sometimes be useful; clearly, this study found that the subjects who engaged in this cardio did experience benefits by the end of the study.  However, there may be reason to believe that interval training accomplishes the same benefits in significantly less time, which would make it overall more favorable.  Although low-intensity training may definitely have its place, it should not be surprising that so many experts have chosen to drop this type of cardio in favor of more high-intensity intervals.

References

Gillen, J. B., Martin, B. J., MacInnis, M. J., Skelly, L. E., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Gibala, M. J. (2016). Twelve weeks of sprint interval training improves indices of cardiometabolic health similar to traditional endurance training despite a five-fold lower exercise volume and time commitment. PloS one11(4), e0154075.

Jul 232017
 

Positivity in the workplace is contagious and enhances everybody’s well-being.

In a new study, a large number of employees at the Madrid office of Coca-Cola were regularly assessed for various forms of happiness and work satisfaction metrics.  Some of these employees were instructed to be extra positive and perform small acts of kindness towards their coworkers.

Those subjects who acted in a more positive manner reported feeling a greater sense of autonomy during their job and enjoyed elevated levels of work satisfaction.  Amazingly, over time, other coworkers began to reciprocate these acts of kindness and the entire culture became more positive.

Conclusions

This amazing study illustrates how even a small number of positive individuals can act as a catalyst towards favorable improvements in work culture. Bringing a positive mindset makes people feel happy and leads to a better environment for all.

References

Chancellor, J., Margolis, S., Jacobs Bao, K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2017). Everyday Prosociality in the Workplace: The Reinforcing Benefits of Giving, Getting, and Glimpsing.

Jun 252017
 

One of the single most important factors that influence mood, focus, and stress is one’s ability to breathe properly.

In a new study, forty participants were divided between a “breathing intervention group” and a control group.  In the breathing intervention group, participants were trained to properly breathe using the diaphragm.  After 8 weeks of practice, these individuals experienced a significant decrease in negative affect, an increased ability to focus, and a decrease in cortisol levels, which is an objective measurement of stress.

Conclusions

This study adds to the growing body of evidence that supports the importance of proper breathing.  Diaphragm exercises are extremely valuable and should be a part of all exercise programs.

References

Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … & Li, Y. F. (2017). The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in Psychology8.

Jun 212017
 

One major contributor to neck pain may be poor breathing.

A new study examined 44 patients with neck pain and 31 subjects without pain.  Those with neck pain had impaired breathing habits compared to those who did not.  Additionally, those with neck pain exhibited less range of motion and weaker strength of the neck flexors and extensors.

Conclusions

Breathing is meant to be done using the diaphragm.  When the diaphragm is not engaged, accessory muscles of the neck such as the traps, scalenes, and SCM all become overactive trying to do the diaphragms job.  Teaching proper breathing mechanics is essential in order to prevent neck tension or pain from occurring.

References

Lo´ pez-de-Uralde-Villanueva, I., Sollano-Vallez, E., & Del Corral, T. (2017). Reduction of cervical and respiratory muscle strength in patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain and having moderate to severe disability. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-10.

Jun 212017
 

Athletes with rotator cuff tendinopathy tend to display lower activation levels of the low trap and serratus anterior compared to the upper trap.

A new study examined 43 volleyball players to determine if any muscle imbalances existed in those who exhibited rotator cuff tendinopathy in comparison to asymptomatic controls.  The researchers found that those who had rotator cuff tendinopathy had a more difficult time activating crucial muscles of the scapula, including low trap and serratus.  Those who were successfully able to recruit the low trap and serratus muscles possessed significantly more upward scapular rotation.

Conclusions

The low traps and serratus are two extremely important muscles for the health of the shoulder joints and all exercise routines should incorporate exercises for these two crucial muscles.

References

Leong, H. T., Ng, G. Y. F., Chan, S. C., & Fu, S. N. (2017). Rotator cuff tendinopathy alters the muscle activity onset and kinematics of scapula. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology.

Jun 122017
 

One common cause for irritation in the iliotibial (IT) band is a weak glute medius.

A new study had 12 women run on a treadmill for 30 minutes while measuring the activation of their glute medius muscle.  Those subjects who had a history of an irritated IT band demonstrated lower levels of glute medius activation.

Conclusions

This study further elucidates Shirley Sahrmann’s concept of “synergistic dominance”.  When the glute medius muscle becomes weak, the nearby muscles must work harder to compensate.  In this case, one of the nearest muscles to the glute medius is the TFL, which attaches to the IT band.  When the TFL is working too hard to make up for a weak glute medius, it is no surprise that the IT band becomes painful.

This study illustrates that for runners, exercises to strengthen the glute medius can be immensely beneficial.

References

Foch, E., Westbrooks, J. W., & Milner, C. E. (2017). Hip Neuromechanics In Women With And Without Previous Iliotibial Band Syndrome During A 30-minute Run: 3495 Board# 3 June 3 9. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise49(5S), 995.

Jun 042017
 

Individuals with stronger muscles in the arch of the foot display superior levels of balance and dynamic stability.

A new study used ultrasound to examine the size of the abductor hallucis muscle in 28 runners.  The abductor hallucis is one of the key muscles that helps stabilize the subtalar joint.  The study found that the larger the abductor hallucis, the better the balance and dynamic stability of the runners.

Conclusions

Exercises that strengthen the abductor hallucis, such as variations of Vladimir Janda’s “short foot” drill, may be highly beneficial for improving balance and preventing dysfunction.

References

Zhang, X., Schütte, K. H., & Vanwanseele, B. (2017). Foot muscle morphology is related to center of pressure sway and control mechanisms during single-leg standing. Gait & Posture.

May 302017
 

Individuals who tend to shift their shoe pressure medially experience a greater likelihood of experiencing shin splints.

A new study examined 79 runners to determine whether they tended to place more pressure medially or laterally during gait, and then checked for symptoms of shin splints after endurance training.  Those runners who placed more pressure medially had more instances of medial tibial stress syndrome.

Conclusions

This study adds to the growing body of research suggesting that subtalar stability is essential for optimal functioning of the ankle joint.  In theory, exercises that strengthen the muscles of the arch could potentially teach individuals to shift more pressure laterally and thus aid in the prevention of shin splints.

What would be interesting to test is whether there are any differences between severity of shin splints in the left leg compared to the right leg in these individuals.  Because right-side dominant humans tend to put more medial pressure on their left shoe, this could theoretically lead to a greater occurrence of shin splints on the left.  Unfortunately, this was not tested by the present study.

References

Brund, R. B., Rasmussen, S., Nielsen, R. O., Kersting, U. G., Laessoe, U., & Voigt, M. (2017). Medial shoe-ground pressure and specific running injuries: A 1-year prospective cohort study. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

May 072017
 

Left-handed people have faces that are shaped differently than their right-handed counterparts.

According to a new study, individuals with a slender lower face are 25 percent more likely to be left handed. In these individuals, slender jaws cause the jaw to be lower, causing them to bite backwards. This leads to a more convex facial profile with an overbite.

This change in facial structure can affect occlusion, which could potentially affect the body’s sense of proprioception and dominance towards various polyarticular chains of muscles.

Conclusions

According to the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI), the positioning of the teeth and various cranial bones can have an effect on one’s right-side dominance.  It would be highly interesting to discover whether or not the difference in facial structure observed in this study could be increasing subjects’ likelihood to become left-handed due to effects on the Temporomandibular Cervical Chain (TMCC) described in the PRI courses.

 

References

Hujoel, Philippe P. “Handedness and lower face variability: Findings in three national surveys.” Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition (2017): 1-16.

Apr 112017
 

Orthotics may help prevent back pain.

A new study found that when subjects were given a custom-made orthotic, six weeks later their symptoms of back pain were significantly lower compared to subjects who were put on a wait list and received no treatment.

Conclusions

There are many conflicting opinions in regards to the proper use of orthotics.  This study would seem to indicate that in some instances, orthotics may indeed be helpful.  This could be due to the ability of orthotics to prevent engagement of what PRI calls the “Posterior Exterior Chain” (PEC), which can lead to back tension if chronically engaged.

Unfortunately, this study did not properly control for the placebo effect, so it is impossible to know whether the effects seen were indeed due to the orthotics or were simply a placebo.  Regrettably, higher-quality research is needed to discern more.

References

Cambron, J. A., Dexheimer, J. M., Duarte, M., & Freels, S. (2017). Shoe Orthotics for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.