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14/Dec/2022

Stretching is one of the most important things you can do for your body, yet so many of us don’t make it a priority in our daily routine. Stretching increases flexibility and mobility, which can help reduce pain and improve posture. But there are even more benefits to stretching every day. Let’s explore why stretching is so important and how it can be beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing.

Stretching Increases Flexibility

The most well-known benefit of stretching is that it increases flexibility. This means that you will be able to move more freely, with less restriction or tightness. Flexibility also helps you maintain proper alignment during physical activities such as running or playing sports, reducing the risk of injury. Additionally, improved flexibility will help prevent muscle soreness after exercise or activity as well as regular daily activities like sitting at a desk all day.
A recent study from the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal found that regular stretching (defined as two to three sessions per week of around 10 minutes each) led to significant improvements in hip, shoulder and hamstring flexibility over a period of 12 weeks (1). Furthermore, a study conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association concluded that consistent daily stretching can reduce muscular soreness after physical activity (2).
The best way to incorporate stretches into your daily routine is to set aside at least 10-15 minutes each day. Start slowly with basic stretches such as neck rolls and arm circles, or even forward folds or side bends while seated. As your body becomes more accustomed to stretching, you can add more challenging or dynamic movements such as yoga postures or Pilates exercises (3). Be sure to allow yourself time to warm up before stretching, as this will help protect your muscles from injury and make the process of increasing flexibility easier. Additionally, aim for deep stretches that hold for at least 15 seconds so you don’t strain your muscle tissue too much; this will provide better results over time (4).

Stretching Reduces Stress

Stretching not only helps physically but mentally as well! Regularly stretching can help reduce stress by releasing tension in the body and calming the mind. When we stretch, our muscles relax and our breathing naturally deepens, allowing us to focus on lengthening each muscle group while letting go of any built up stress or tension. Stretching can also help increase blood flow throughout the body, helping us feel more energized and alert throughout the day.
Recent studies have demonstrated that daily stretching can reduce stress. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Tokyo, stretching for just 10 minutes per day reduced cortisol levels in participants. Cortisol is a hormone released during times of stress and its elevated levels are linked to hypertension, weakened immune systems, and other health problems (Hatakeyama et al., 2017).
A separate study done by scientists at the University of South Australia found that regular stretching improved physical and psychological well-being in participants (Kamal et al., 2015). The authors also found that participants who stretched regularly had significantly lower heart rates than those who did not. Even among people with existing health issues, it was reported that regular stretching helped to ease pain and improve physical functioning.
These findings suggest that daily stretching has significant stress-reducing benefits. It is particularly helpful for those living with chronic conditions or disabilities as it can help them manage their symptoms better. Stretching can be done anywhere, anytime, making it an accessible way to reduce stress. Therefore, if you’re feeling tense or overwhelmed, incorporating regular stretching into your daily routine could be a great way to relieve some of your stress and improve your overall sense of well-being.

Improved Posture

Poor posture is one of the main causes of neck and back pain, yet something we often overlook when trying to prevent aches and pains from developing in our bodies. Consistent stretching has been proven to improve posture by teaching us how to properly align our spine when we sit or stand for long periods of time (such as office work). Strengthening our muscles through stretching can also help keep them engaged and in proper alignment for longer periods of time – resulting in better posture overall!
Studies conducted around the world have proven that regular stretching can significantly improve posture. For example, one study published in 2017 in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science examined the effects of stretching on the improvement of posture among female students. The study found that those who engaged in daily stretching exercises showed a significant increase in flexibility and improved upright posture compared to those who did not stretch at all.
Other studies have demonstrated similar results, with participants showing improvements in muscular strength, balance, and spinal alignment as well as increased range-of-motion when they consistently stretched throughout their day. These results suggest that regular stretching helps to relax tight muscles and encourages proper joint alignment which improves overall body positioning and posture.
Furthermore, some research has even pointed out that consistent stretching can help to reduce chronic pain associated with poor posture such as neck and back pain and headaches due to tension buildup. Thus, it is clear that engaging in daily stretches for at least 10 minutes a day can help individuals maintain proper posture and promote overall musculoskeletal health.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why incorporating regular stretching into your daily routine is essential for both physical and mental wellbeing! Not only does it increase flexibility, reduce stress levels, and improve posture; but it also helps boost energy levels throughout the day so that you always feel ready to take on whatever life throws your way! So next time you’re feeling stressed out or sore after a long day, try taking a few minutes out of your day to do some basic stretches – it could make all the difference!

References:

(1) ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2016/05000/The_Effects_of_Stretching_on_Performance–A_Systematic.9.aspx

(2) American Physical Therapy Association: http://www.apta.org/PWNF/

(3) Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching

(4) Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931


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28/Oct/2022

Any good rock climber knows that in order to perform at your best, you need to take care of your body. That means eating a nutritious diet, appropriate training, sleeping well and staying hydrated. But it can also mean supplementing your diet with the right things to ensure that your body has everything it needs to climb to new heights. Here are 10 of the best supplements for rock climbing.

CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike its more famous cousin THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects. Instead, it has been shown to offer a variety of health benefits, including reducing anxiety and pain. CBD is also being explored as a treatment for several conditions, including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. CBD oil can be taken orally or applied topically, making it a versatile addition to any medicine cabinet.
For athletes, CBD oil has become an increasingly popular way to manage pain and inflammation. CBD is thought to work by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating pain and inflammation. In one study, rock climbers who took CBD before their climb reported reduced pain and inflammation afterwards. CBD is also being explored as a potential treatment for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), a type of muscle soreness that can occur after exercise. While more research is needed, CBD oil shows promise as a safe and effective way to manage pain and inflammation for athletes of all levels.

Dose: 60mg after training has shown benefit in muscle recovery

Theanine

Theanine is an amino acid that can be found in tea leaves. It is known to have a calming effect on the mind, and it has been shown to improve focus and concentration. Theanine has also been shown to reduce anxiety levels. For these reasons, theanine has become a popular supplement among rock climbers. While theanine can help to improve focus and cognitive function, it is not a miracle drug. Theanine will not make you a better rock climber overnight. However, it can help to improve your mental state while climbing, making it easier to maintain focus and avoid getting overwhelmed by anxiety. If you are looking for an edge while climbing, theanine may be worth considering.

Dose: 100mg has shown improvements in cognitive function.

Protein

Climbing is a strenuous activity that can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue. Adding a protein powder supplement to your diet can help your muscles recover more quickly so that you can get back on the wall sooner. Protein powder is also helpful in preventing injuries since it helps to repair and build muscle tissue. For optimal effects, it is best to take a protein supplement within one hour after climbing.

Dose: 1.2-1.5 grams/kg or 30-33 grams when combined with athletic training.

Iron

Climbing takes a lot of energy, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough iron. Iron helps carry oxygen to your cells, which gives you the energy you need to power through a tough climb. If you’re not getting enough iron, you might start to feel fatigued more easily. The best way to get iron is through food sources like red meat, dark leafy greens, and beans. However, if you’re not getting enough from your diet, you might want to consider taking an iron supplement. Just be sure to talk to your doctor first, as too much iron can be harmful.

Dose: Depends on current iron levels. Blood testing may be required. Consult with your doctor or naturopath.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for human health. It is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including the metabolism of energy, the regulation of blood sugar, and the formation of bones and teeth. Magnesium is also essential for muscle function, and it helps to relieve muscle cramps. For athletes and people who are physically active, magnesium is especially important. This is because Magnesium helps to maintain electrolyte balance and to reduce exercise-induced inflammation.
Rock climbers can benefit from taking magnesium supplements, as this can help to improve their performance and recovery from climbs. Magnesium can also help to prevent injuries by reducing the risk of cramping. For climbers who are looking to improve their results, magnesium may be a valuable addition to their diet.

Dose: Up to 350mg is generally tolerated well.

Creatine

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound in the body that helps to supply energy to cells. It is popular among climbers because it has been shown to improve power and strength output. This can be helpful when you are trying to send a hard route or when you need to pull yourself up a steep wall. Creatine is also one of the most studied supplements on the market, so you can be confident in its safety and effectiveness.

Dose: 20 grams for 5-7 days has shown improvement in both aerobic and anaerobic performance

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is another amino acid that is popular among athletes because it has been shown to improve performance. It works by increasing the amount of carnosine in muscle cells, which helps to buffer lactic acid buildup. This can delay fatigue, arm pump and help you climb for longer periods of time without getting as tired. Beta-alanine is also relatively safe and has been well-studied, so you can be confident in its effects.

Dose: 2-6.4 grams for 3-12 weeks demonstrated improvements in exercise capacity and performance.

Collagen

Collagen is a structural protein that helps to give tissues their strength and elasticity. It is found throughout the body, including in the skin, bones, and tendons. Collagen plays an important role in rock climbing, as it helps to maintain the strength and integrity of the climbers’ hands and feet. Collagen also helps to protect against injury, as it acts as a shock absorber and can help to reduce the impact of falls. In addition, collagen aids in the healing process, helping to repair tissue damage caused by climbing. As a result, collagen is an essential component of rock climbing. without it, climbers would be at a higher risk of injury and would have a difficult time recovering from falls. Taking daily amounts of collagen through supplementation can help ensure that your body has all the required building blocks for collagen synthesis.

Dose: 10-20 grams daily has shown increases in performance.

Ginseng

Ginseng is an herb that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Today, ginseng is commonly taken as a dietary supplement, and it is also said to have many benefits for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. Ginseng is thought to improve stamina and endurance, and some climbers even swear by it as a way to boost their performance on the rock. Ginseng is available in many forms, including capsules, teas, and tinctures. If you’re interested in trying ginseng for yourself, be sure to talk to your doctor first, as it can interact with some medications.

Dose: 200mg up to 3 times daily for 12 weeks has been shown to be safe. Panax Ginseng can raise blood pressure so it is important to consult with your doctor or naturopath prior to supplementation.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a popular supplement among athletes in general because it has been shown to improve alertness, focus, and power output. This can be helpful when you are trying to maintain focus while climbing. Caffeine is also relatively safe, but it is important to not overdo it as too much caffeine can lead to side effects like jitters and anxiety.

Dose: 2-10mg/kg has shown improvements in athletic performance. Up to 400mg per day has been shown to be relatively safe for most individuals.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many different supplements that can be helpful for rock climbing. If you are looking to improve your performance, then you may want to consider adding some of these supplements to your diet. As always, make sure to consult with a doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

References

Isenmann E, Veit S, Starke L, Flenker U, Diel P. Effects of Cannabidiol Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle Regeneration after Intensive Resistance Training. Nutrients 2021;13(9):3028

Foxe JJ, et al. Assessing the effects of caffeine and theanine on the maintenance of vigilance during a sustained attention task. Neuropharmacology. 2012;62(7):2320-2327

McAdam JS, McGinnis KD, Beck DT, et al. Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation on Physical Performance and Body Composition in Army Initial Entry Training Soldiers. Nutrients. 2018;10(9)

McNaughton LR, Dalton B, Tarr J. The effects of creatine supplementation on high-intensity exercise performance in elite performers. (abstract) Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1998;78:236-40

Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, et al. Effects of ß-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids 2012;43:25-37

Jendricke P, Kohl J, Centner C, Gollhofer A, König D. Influence of specific collagen peptides and concurrent training on cardiometabolic parameters and performance indices in women: A randomized controlled trial. Front Nutr. 2020;7:580918.

Sorensen H, Sonne J. A double-masked study of the effects of ginseng on cognitive functions. Curr Ther Res 1996;57:959-68.

Greer F, Friars D, Graham TE. Comparison of caffeine and theophylline ingestion: exercise metabolism and endurance. J Appl Physiol 2000;89:1837-44


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11/Jul/2022

Fasting for six years

I thought it was a good time for me to personally reflect on the last six years of intermittent fasting. Yes, for the last six years I have been following a relatively strict program of fasting for 16-20 hours of the day. Usually this means having my last meal of the day around 6pm and my first meal the following day at 11am.

I remember first hearing about the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) at a medical conference organized by the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine back in 2016. After Dr. Denis Wilson M.D. spoke about all the clinically supported benefits of IF as well as his own personal journey with IF, I was sold!

Fasting and Climbing

That was around the same time I started to take rock climbing seriously. A was training 2-3 days per week and for around 2 hours each session. I decided it would be an interesting experiment to combine IF with my morning training. I was hitting the gym while in a fasted state (usually around 16 hours at that point) and would train as hard as I could.

When the body is in a post 14 hour fast it starts to convert fat into an energy source called ketones. This is because all the sugar stored in the body has been used up. Exercising while fasting speeds up this process. I was amazed to see how quickly this combination of fasting and exercise transformed my body and my health. Over the course of a year I lost 15lb and went up several grades in my climbing. My climbing partners couldn’t believe I was able to climb hard on an empty stomach, but I actually felt lighter and clearer. I would try to have my first meal of the day within an hour after workouts for optimal protein metabolism to build muscle. I would regularly get comments from familiar faces at the gym asking if I’m doing anything special outside of the gym. I simply told them that I’m fasting and climbing. Pretty simple but very effective.

Finding the right program

Over the following 5 years I had short 2-3 week periods where I would take a break from IF but would soon return as I felt my best, looked my best and climbed my best while on a pretty strict IF program. I have since recommended IF to dozens of patients, the majority of whom see results within a few months. One of my biggest supporters and now followers of IF is my dad. He saw such dramatic results that IF is now a regular lifestyle habit for him as well.

I dabbled a few times with doing pretty long fasts (20-23 hours) and eating only one meal per day but I found that this was a bit hard on my body. I was getting irritable and was not performing very well at the gym. I now have a pretty good understanding of how many hours my body likes to fast for and how many meals per day is best.

Everyone is going to find a sweet spot for themselves. I don’t recommend forcing the body into a particular program but to try fasting for different lengths of time and see what feels and works best. It does take a little getting used to at first but it is important to remember that this is a very natural state for the human body.

It’s only natural

Through most of human evolution humanity had to go for extended periods of time without food. In fact, an abundance of food at our beck and call is likely contributing to a lot of chronic disease in our modern way of living. Many religious traditions still practice fasting in order to clear the mind, body and spirit. Centuries of cultural practice as well as hundreds of recent studies are in support of fasting in one form or another. It is one of the cheapest, simplest and most effective medical programs I can recommend for a patient.

What lies ahead

Looking ahead to the next decade, I don’t see myself giving up IF anytime soon. There are a few other lifestyle changes I would like to implement but IF will continue to be the backbone of my personal health and wellness program. There are some individuals including in pregnancy where IF is not recommended. I encourage those of you curious about IF or trying it out, to at least have a consultation with a health professional like myself. The benefit of being supervised by a Naturopathic Doctor is the peace of mind that your are practicing something that is safe for your body, you have someone to answer questions as they arise and even to run blood tests if necessary. If I have inspired at least a few people to give IF a try then I have passed along a valuable lifestyle tool as it was passed to me six years ago. Happy fasting everyone!


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03/Mar/2022

For the past 6-months I have been supplementing with collagen peptides in my morning coffee. I take relatively few daily supplements; Lions Mane mushroom for my brain, Vitamin D for my immune system and Collagen Peptides for my joints. I became focused on protecting my joints (especially my fingers, toes, knees and shoulders) a few years ago as I started training harder in rock climbing. I began to feel stiffness, soreness and occasionally pain after hard training sessions. I decided I needed to do something soon or I would lose the ability to climb at a relatively young age.

Instead of suppressing inflammation with compounds like curcumin, glucosamine and chondroitin I wondered if it would be possible to actually strengthen my tendons and ligaments. I had been aware of collagen supplementation through a number of patients taking it for hair and skin health. I had largely dismissed collagen as a beauty supplement and it was therefore not on my radar as a potential athletic enhancement.

Just over 6-months ago I had received a newsletter about of tendon health for climbers. The physiotherapist/climbing expert outlined specific exercises for warming up fingers and also mentioned the benefits of collagen supplementation for tendon health. At that moment I decided to re-visit the research on collagen, and I am glad I did!

Collagen peptides are small amino acid chains derived from collagen, which is the primary structural protein in ligaments, tendons, bones and skin. The research behind supplementing with collagen peptides seems to support three key areas.

Skin

A few studies, including randomized placebo controlled trials, have shown an improvement in skin moisture, elasticity and wrinkles with daily supplementation of Collagen Peptides. The daily dose ranged from 4-10 grams daily.

Osteoarthritis

Several studies have demonstrated a modest benefit in pain and function with daily supplementation of Collagen Peptides. Most studies focused on osteoarthritis (OA) in the knees but a couple also mention hip and hand. In general the improvement was modest (a little better than chondroitin) and took approximately 3-5 months to appear. Some studies used collagen peptides in combination with other compounds like chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. Most studies used a 10 gram daily dose.

Performance Enhancement

A great systematic review came out in 2021 that looked at the effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis and recovery from joint injury.

Five studies demonstrated a positive effect on reducing joint discomfort, knee pain , ankle and knee function and recovery from achilles tendinopathy. Those studies used 40 mg-10 grams per day over a 4-6 month period.

Four studies looked at the effects of collagen supplementation on body composition and muscle strength. The studies combined collagen supplementation (15 grams per day for 3-months) with resistance training.The studies, which were conducted on elderly men, active men and untrained pre-menopausal women, found an increase in fat free mass, a decrease in body fat percentage and an increase in hand grip strength.

Two studies assessed the effect of collagen supplementation on exercise performance and recovery from muscle soreness. The studies included recreationally active men, one used 3 grams per day for 6 weeks and the other used 20 grams per day for 7 days prior to intense exercise. There was a strong positive effect on pain with movement and muscle soreness.

Two studies assessed the effects of Collagen peptide supplementation on collagen synthesis. When taken 60min prior to exercise there was a significant increase in collagen synthesis markers following ingestion of 15 grams collagen enriched with vitamin C.

Conclusions

When it comes to preserving joint, ligament and tendon health for myself and my patients, collagen peptide supplementation is now a staple. The evidence in favour of collagen, along with a strong safety profile makes collagen peptides a valuable nutritional supplement in both sports medicine and anti-aging medicine. The recommended dose seems to be between 10-20 grams per day for 3-6 months.

References

Inoue N, Sugihara F, Wang X. Ingestion of bioactive collagen hydrolysates enhance facial skin moisture and elasticity and reduce facial ageing signs in a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study. J Sci Food Agric. 2016;96(12):4077-81.

Czajka A, Kania EM, Genovese L, et al. Daily oral supplementation with collagen peptides combined with vitamins and other bioactive compounds improves skin elasticity and has a beneficial effect on joint and general wellbeing. Nutr Res 2018;57:97-108.

Asserin J, Lati E, Shioya T, Prawitt J. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2015;14(4):291-301

Sangsuwan W, Asawanonda P. Four-weeks daily intake of oral collagen hydrolysate results in improved skin elasticity, especially in sun-exposed areas: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Dermatolog Treat. 2020:1-6.

Benito-Ruiz P, Camacho-Zambrano MM, Carrillo-Arcentales JN, et al. A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy and safety of a food ingredient, collagen hydrolysate, for improving joint comfort. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009;60 Suppl 2:99-113.

Kumar S, Sugihara F, Suzuki K, Inoue N, Venkateswarathirukumara S. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, clinical study on the effectiveness of collagen peptide on osteoarthritis. J Sci Food Agric. 2015;95(4):702-7.

Trc T, Bohmová J. Efficacy and tolerance of enzymatic hydrolysed collagen (EHC) vs. glucosamine sulphate (GS) in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis (KOA). Int Orthop. 2011;35(3):341-8

Moskowitz RW. Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease.Semin Arthritis Rheum 2000;30:87-99

Kalman DS, Schwartz HI, Pachon J, Sheldon E, Almada AL. A randomized double blind clinical pilot trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of hydrolyzed collagen type II in adults with osteoarthritis. FASEB Experimental Biology 2004 Abstracts, Washington DC, April 17-21, 2004; A90.

Amino Acids. 2021; 53(10): 1493–1506.Published online 2021 Sep 7. doi: 10.1007/s00726-021-03072-xPMCID: PMC8521576PMID: 34491424The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review Mishti Khatri,1 Robert J. Naughton,1 Tom Clifford,2 Liam D. Harper, 1 and Liam Corr1


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