Podcast Episode #30 from http://www.nuvisionexcel.com/podcasts/episode-30
Introduction: Hi and welcome to Excel Radio. This is your host and high-performance expert, Dr. Nick Zyrowski. In this episode, I am going to be speaking with Brendan Ridings. Brendan Ridings and I are going to be discussing topics such as posture destroying your health, the secrets to aging gracefully, and how meditation can set you up for a day of much more success. Brendan brings a lot of knowledge to the table and I hope you enjoy the show. Thank you and welcome to the show, Brendan.
Brendan: Thanks for having me. I am really excited to be on Excel Radio Podcast. Hopefully, I can share some really great information with your listenership about being an entrepreneur and the health strategies involved to bring you some awesome performance and help anybody who is listening to perform at their best every day.
Dr. Z: I have no doubt that you’re going to deliver an incredible amount of value. So, let’s go ahead and start with this. You talk a lot about the American lifestyle causing a lot of health crisis in many people’s lives. Can you elaborate on the lifestyle that American’s live and some of the issues that are coming out of that?
Brendan: Absolutely so, there are many facets to this question. I will start to break them down sort of by category. Now first we call it the Standard American Diet and the initials are SAD. Which it really is SAD. Our diet is primarily based around heavy, meats, trans fats, and refined foods. We have really gotten away from eating natural foods and we are finding so many health issues. I mean the top killers in the United States (heart disease, stroke, diabetic related conditions) are all directly part of this. So for instance we are finding in the medical community that inflammation, chronic inflammation is actually the cause of most problems and disease stages, not necessarily a direct response to those these states. For instance, you’re eating some type of food. A refined carbohydrate with a high Glycemic index, which means it’s going to digest rapidly and it causes a spike in your blood sugar and you get a very strong insulin response from that. So, high blood sugar has an inflammatory effect on the body. You can almost describe it as acidic. Let’s say you’re eating sugary food throughout the day and your constantly elevating blood sugar. You’re increasing that blood sugar throughout the day and it’s creating this inflammatory response within the blood vessels, within the circulatory system and this chronic inflammation leads to these blood vessels hardening and some people may notice and some may not but blood vessels assist in the circulation along with the heart. If they lose that elasticity in the ability to contract and expand, they are going to make the heart work harder. You’re going to make the whole system not function effectively.
Just this chronic inflammation from eating like we said the refined foods the high sugar foods actually being reversed in our own mega fatty acid intake. The typical American takes in more omega six’s and omega nine’s and lacks in omega three’s (which are found in plant-based foods like walnuts and fish, fatty fish.) So, omega three’s are a mega anti-inflammatory. Where omega six fatty acids which are present in steak, for instance, are highly inflammatory. We are seeing that this chronic intake of these poor food choices is actually leading to inflammation throughout the body and it’s destructive inflammation is leading to disease state. It was previously thought that the disease states were creating this inflammatory response. We have to look at the Standard American Diet. There is lots of information on better ways to do this. The biggest way is to start reducing those refined foods, the boxed foods, the canned food and start going for the fresh natural stuff. I am sure everyone has heard it from time and time again. This is a really concrete reason to do so. When you go the grocery store shop around the exterior of the grocery store not within the aisles. In the exterior is where you are going to find the fruits, vegetables, fresh lean meats. Things like that, that are going to be much better for you in the long run. Not just your body composition, also in fighting these chronic conditions and these top killers. In addition to that, we have to look at activity.
There is an interesting study that came out of the National Academy of Sports Medicine based in Arizona. They studied populations from Mexico versus the United States in lower back pain. It was found that in Mexico 95% of people experienced the lower back pain of the poled populations. This is due to our technology here in the United States allowing us do less movement. We are much more sedentary. We sit in a car to drive to our work, we sit at a desk and type on a computer, and then at the end of that long stressful day quote-unquote, we sit down on a couch and watch television. Whereas, when you look at some of the people overseas or say in Mexico, they are moving, walking, or riding a bicycle to work. They are working more labor-like things so they are finding not only less pain but also the United States is experiencing an obesity epidemic which is a risk factor for almost every disease type including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, even chronic wounds, which kills more people than breast cancer.
It becomes a movement issue as well and there are two prongs to this. Lack of movement obviously deteriorates the body. It reduces health. It increases body fat, which is a risk factor for all disease states. When you sit, current information and I am sighting a study that Dr. Kelly Starrett from Mobility WODs, is that sitting is now being linked more now to have more of an effect on mortality than smoking. For instance, sitting for one hour reduces life expectancy about 21 minutes compared to smoking one cigarette which reduces life expectancy about 11 minutes.
Sitting why is it so bad? So when you sit you change the fundamental function of the human body in various ways. The first thing you do is completely shut down the glutes or your butt. You’re also stimulating the frontal leg, like the hip muscles. You start to change the biomechanics of the hips which changes their position. You start to mess with the low back, you start to mess with the knees because now the pelvis is out of alignment. The spine becomes out of alignment.
The next thing that happens is you lose the ability to activate and breath out of the diaphragm, of the lower lobe of the lung. You might not be noticing this but pay attention now while you are sitting listening to this podcast. Chances are your driving in your car, traveling home, or relaxing by your computer listening to this. Pay attention to where you are breathing. Are you breathing more out of your chest or are you breathing more out of your stomach? Does it feel lower, because when you sit you deactivate that lower lobe and breath out of the upper lobe. Now, why this is problematic? When you breathe out of the upper lobe of the lung that actually initiates the fight of flight response within the human body, which stimulates cortisol and adrenaline in the human body, which are stress hormones. It gives a perceived stage of stress that doesn’t exist. We all know chronic stress is terrible for you. It also can change how your mind is functioning. So all these problems coming together of poor diet, lack of movement, sitting that are all wrapping into one to create these terrible conditions we’re experiencing and the final note on that is sitting in a hunched position can actually increase cortisol 30 percent and decrease testosterone about the same. There was a study done by psychiatrist Amy Cuddy out of Harvard. That showed standing with a confident outstanding posture in two minutes can increase testosterone while decreasing cortisol. The opposite is true by sitting in a hunched over, arms crossed, unconfident looking position. You’re going to raise stress hormones and lower those confidence hormones. That also has a negative effect on your health and well-being. All in all, it’s these activities that we are performing on a daily basis that, we don’t think of as that bad or pay much attention to that are really at the root cause of all of our top killers. We have the most advanced medical science here in the United States. Yet, we have suffered; cancer rates have gone up, heart disease has gone up, stroke has gone up. Why is this? The medical profession is doing their job. We are not doing our own job to take care of ourselves.
Dr. Z: Right, it is all very interesting. I got a million questions just off everything you have said. First thing, there is no way around the job that people have that requires them to sit at a computer all day. I mean that is how people make a living and feed their families. What are some of the things that people can do to actually change the way that they’re sitting at their desk or whether it’s standing or sitting there with a better posture? What do people do, like to get up every 5 minutes to 15 minutes, what are your suggestions?
Brendan: So, I will you some strategies starting with the most simplicity to obviously the larger behavior change so that somebody can take that first step. The first rule of thumb is for every 30 minutes spent sitting, you want to walk for at least 2 minutes to get the circulation going to reactive those gluts that have been sitting their dormant to be restored to the posture. One little trick or tip that I would recommend is once you have been sitting for 30 minutes just try to remind yourself to stand up and walk around for two minutes. When you stand up take a minute and this will sound a little goofy but it works extremely well squeeze your butt muscles. Squeeze them, tighten them and your abdominal muscles as well as best as you can. So that you start to bring that pelvic back into proper alignment, you bring your rib cage back down, and your body is in good spinal alignment you start to reset that position back to where it should be because sitting absolutely distorts your spinal alignment. Back and neck injuries, people feel them while being active but the cause is because they have been sitting. It has tightened the front of that hip up, which attaches to that lumbar spine.
The next thing that I would recommend doing is start to look at the arrangement of your desk. I am fortunate enough to have a sit to stand desk. I can move up and down. Let’s say you have a regular sitting desk. I (in the past at other places) have put a box or something underneath my computer to lift it up or something so I can be in a standing position. If that is not available to you, check out the height of your monitor. Make sure that your head is not tilted down that your not looking forward and down. Rather lift the monitor up so that your head is in more of a straight forward looking position that puts your cervical neck in a nice neutral position. Make sure that your keyboard is as close to the edge of the desk as possible and get your chair as close as possible so that you don’t have to hunch over your keyboard to reach it. You don’t have to reach too far forward and ultimately around those shoulders and sink over into the hunchback look. You can sit up straighter be in a better position and maintain your lower lobe lung breathing. Ultimately to keep the upper body in a better alignment. You can take it a step farther and there are some wonderful posture support devices out there that are going to help teach you, how to sit better, sit with better posture, so you don’t have to think about it so much. There are some devices that give you a reminder that is literally a wearable. You put it on your body and it will beep when you go into bad posture. If you are not the type of person that knows what good posture feels like. There are other devices that you simply sit and the way that they are shaped kind of guides you into that good posture. It is a small investment but I think it pays large dividends in the long run.
Dr. Z: You actually have some type of device that you have created. What is it?
Brendan: So, what I have actually created and this was in response to seeing so many people that would come to me with shoulder injuries, neck pain, tension in their shoulders they would call and say this is stress camels and I am stressed Brendan. I would say, unfortunately, we are not stress camels. We don’t have a storage area for that stuff. You are chronically in a bad position that caused that muscle to tighten up. You get stressed out, you feel it because your nervous system gets stimulated releasing your stress hormones which kind of activates that muscle. It tightens up even further when you are stressed out. In response to that, I have spent an hour with these people resetting their posture to get their neck to relax and their shoulders to feel a little bit better and reduce some of their pain and aching between their shoulder blades but then they would come back the next day looking just as bad as the first day that they walked in. I would say, what did you do? Well, Brendan, I sit at a desk all day and I drive a car. I designed a product it is called Posture PT and that stands for “Posture personal trainer” and it is very simple. If you look at most chairs, look at the back of the chair. First of all, it’s kind of too far away from you. No one sits against the back of their chair anymore. They sit kind of forward in their chair in order to reach their keyboard. So I made it a certain depth or thickness to push you forward in your chair so you can actually sit against the back of your chair while working. Second, the thing that we took into consideration when we were designing this product was a lot of chairs and especially a car if you look at it. It is described as a bucket seat if you look at it but the basic shape of that is called concave right? It is shaped caved and bent inward.
Dr. Z: I have found that car seats anymore are awful. I mean even in most of the newer cars. The headrest actually pushes your head forward. I don’t know who can possibly sit like that. Maybe, the average person does. See I watch my posture very well so, even when I sit in my vehicle the headrest is actually like pushing my head back. I can’t actually sit back in my seat and rest my head.
Brendan: It is actually a horrible deathtrap. If you sit all the way back in your car seat you have a bucket seat which promotes the rounding of your shoulders forward. Now I get cradling you for a high-performance vehicle but none of us are flying around in our cars, taking sharp turns; it’s just completely unnecessary. That is actually what inspired this. I was driving down to Tennessee and I was on my way to compete in powerlifting, I was on my way to a competition and I kept sitting forward but at the same time trying to pull my shoulder blades back to sit with a really good posture and after two or three minutes you kind of lose the cognition of that. You’re not paying attention anymore. You slouch without even realizing it. I just looked at the seat and was like man. What if this seat was convex instead of concave? So the exact opposite shape. What I did was I took a foam roller. I am sure a lot of people are familiar with it. It is just a 6-inch diameter foam roller for your legs and what not to loosen them up and I cut it in half lengthwise and stuck it behind my back and it was perfect when I sat against it my shoulder blades rounded around it so they went back and when your shoulder blades get pulled back. You will notice your head will also retract back to a neutral position. So I felt really good and I could maintain it without thinking about it, which is exactly what I needed. So, I actually started making them for my clients at the time who needed help just by hand and later on was approached and we turned this into a new product. If at least half the people I was working with needed this, more people were going to need it. Essentially designed it is about 21-inches tall about 6-inches in diameter and it is shaped in a convex shape. When you sit against your shoulder blades round around. It attaches to your car seat, your chair at work, or some people even use it on their couch. For more information, pictures, or even videos you can check out confidentposture.com and see exactly how Posture PT works. But that is what I created that I felt could really help the situation that I saw so often.
Dr. Z: Yea, I am going to have to check that out. I am not 100 percent familiar with it. It sounds like it is what is needed for a lot of people. I mean I have used like lumbar rolls and other things like that but what you’re talking about bringing those shoulders back it makes a lot of sense with what you did by actually cutting the foam roller and getting those shoulders back and like you said. I know just from experience the seats in the cars they are terrible and you need something in there. If you’re driving a lot because I have patients who are working on their posture and but let’s say if they are a sales person and they and spending a ton of time in their car it’s like we can work on it till the end of the day and if what they are doing on a daily basis is, is just driving that problem then it is hard to help them really.
Brendan: An hour a day if you fixing them it doesn’t repair the many, many hours they spend sitting in poor position.
Dr. Z: Yea, so something like that is very necessary. I am going to have to look into that a little bit further. I got a question for you: based on what you had said earlier I am jumping way back to the beginning when we were first started talking and you know. You were talking about diets a lot and how it is ourpoor lifestyle and poor diet that is causing so many issues. What kind of diet do you suggest, because there are tons of diets out there? What kind of diet are you suggesting and seeing work well with people?
Brendan: I don’t give a particular diet description necessarily. What I say is I just try to give some recommendations. So that people start seeing the small changes that occur from this. What I will typically tell somebody when they approach me. I will say listen, the first thing I want you to try to do is to replace anything that you eat out of a box. Let’s just go for the fresh foods first. I don’t try to overwhelm them with weighing the foods and portions first. Just get those better choices and eliminate three particular food groups: diary, take out your wheat based or gluten based foods and take out the legumes or beans because those are typically the ones that create more dietary problems than other groups of foods. Then what we do is I say reintroduce one at a time. Reintroduce each of those groups one at a time. I am not going to be one of those people who are like, you can’t eat wheat because there is too much of this gluten intolerance misunderstanding out there or that diary is definitely bad for you. And obviously there is a lot of information to show us that diary is not optimal for human beings but once again I believe that the individual needs to explore this a bit and then we take all three of those groups out and introduce one at a time to see how your body reacts, than eliminate it and reintroduce the other ones and see how the body reacts and do this experimentation. Just a week doing each one and you will begin to see really what foods affectyou and significantly I will give you an example. I personally went onto a strict Paleo diet. I was already familiar with portioning my food and so I just used that as my food choices and I eliminated obviously wheat and diary and legumes but I reintroduced dairy at one point and immediately as soon as I ate one yogurt I was lethargic. That night I slept an extra hour or two. I was just bogged down. I had immediately found out that dairy was something I could no longer put in my system but I was unaware that it was causing problems until I removed it.
Dr. Z: Right, you know one of the things I do with people is I run some specific lab testing in order to look for sensitivities so when we find those sensitivities those foods that their bodies just doesn’t agree with based on their DNA and their particular health. I have them remove it, and it is the same thing. It could be people getting headaches or skin irritations or like you said chronic fatigue and or they find that their gut is just not feeling well all the time. Many people, they just live and that is what they think life is and that is the way your supposed to feel but in fact once we remove those foods just like your talking about doing. It is one of those things that people really feel different and they realize they are not supposed to walk around feeling bloated all the time or whatever the case is. The method that you are using to do it is as good as any. If there are particular foods that you think you should already be looking to be pulling out of your diet because for one it will save you a couple bucks but two there are things that you have mentioned like dairy and wheat. Those are major things that people are sensitive to.
Brendan: Absolutely, and that is a great starting point and then you start to see a function point in your body. A lot of people when I first say this to them are like, ” Well Brendan I really love cheese and I love this and I love that.” I said I understand that but just wait until you see how good you can feel and in my own experience by dropping these particular foods that were or I was particularly sensitive to, I reduced my sleep quota to about 5 1/2 to 6 hours a night. An alarm isn’t required to wake up. I wake up energized after 5 to 6 hours of sleep feeling great and for me that is a huge benefit. I don’t think there is one person out there that wouldn’t love to sleep 5 1/2 to 6 hours and feel great all day long. Life kind of necessitates that at this point in time. There are these huge benefits and the other thing that people don’t understand is food is hugely influential of neurochemistry so you may put something in your mouth that is pleasing to your taste buds but as soon as it goes down your throat is it no longer beneficial for you so literally your only benefit is the tongue. The rest of the body suffers for it. I try to teach people I say listen by eating the right foods you are going to have a more optimal neurochemistry and literally this is what is responsible for your feelings of joy, well-being and motivation are how balanced that neurochemistry is. I give people this example all the time I say. Have you ever been in a blah mood and you drank a big old cup of coffee and then you felt pretty good afterward? All you did was stimulate a bunch of dopamine and dopamine is the body’s reward chemical. It tells you, you have done something good. It produces feelings of motivation, joy, and you just tweaked your neurochemistry. Now, if you do these good habits, if you are eating good foods your body will optimize that neurochemistry. You are going to have an overall better function, better outlook. Your whole outlook is pretty much determined by what your neurochemistry is like. That is in your hands. It is controllable through habits like meditation and exercise. It Is controllable through dietary practices so you can optimize it and feel amazing for no particular reason.
Dr. Z: That is interesting. You know when you think of food I really think that so many people just maybe it is emotions or maybe it is just whatever is next to them. They just grab it and they eat that way. I think it is strongly driven on what they feel is good or what makes them feel good or feel
happy but you really have to think about food as it is fuel to your system. It is what you are literally putting in your body for your body to create new cells and nourish itself. You have to get past the like the, “I think donuts make me feel good.” You have to really think about what your body needs. Feed yourself according to the needs that you have. Whether you know if it is a certain vitamin and nutrients that you need. You really need to feed yourself according to that versus what you think is good at the time or what is easy.
Brendan: Absolutely, and you know those people facing that struggle of you know when I eat this donut I feel really good. The really good that you experience off of those types of foods is extremely temporary. We do know that high sugar, high-fat foods stimulate the same centers of the brain as a dose of cocaine. We know that it is addictive in that property. We know that it is very temporary in leading those good feelings but people seek out those quick fixes often if they are not feeling so good they will reach for that donut. Very temporarily they feel better. Enjoying themselves or having a very pleasurable experience but what my challenge for them is, what if you could make your baseline feeling that way all the time? What they don’t realize is that doing these good habits can stimulate for instances exercise and meditation are the only two proven methods that can cause the release of dopamine and simultaneously open the receptors that dopamine act upon. Foods can’t do this; drugs can’t do this, which is why when you start drinking coffee you have to drink more and more just to feel the same way. People are putting down a pot a day and they are just dehydrating their bodies and leaching it of water and vitamins all to try to perceive.
Dr. Z: Why do we drink regular coffee instead of decaf?
Brendan: Oh because we get that caffeine buzz; we get that dopamine release. Well with the right nutritional habits, exercise and like I said before meditation. They have proven that it will release dopamine and open the receptors so your body becomes more sensitive to it’s own dopamine; you feelthose good feelings and you don’t have to put any of the garbage in. Our bodies are set up to do this, just we are trying to find a quick, easy route to do it rather than just taking a little bit of time to discipline. If you do these habits for one week you start to feel and see the benefit. It doesn’t take long.
Dr. Z: Absolutely, I agree with you 100 percent. Go ahead and give that a try and see how it changes your body. I think you are going to find that it’s incredible how well you can you actually feel and the energy that you can have. How many health concerns and conditions you might think that you have to live with that just disappear. That is another big thing, is that these things might just disappear and your wondering how could I have not done this earlier. It is such an easy fix.
Brendan, the next thing I want to jump into with you is aging. How do I age gracefully because one of the things you also talk about is that so many people face a lot of health issues as they age and many people just think that’s part of aging. They are in their 50’s and they can barely run, they barely have any energy, they are starting to gain weight. They are starting to develop all these chronic conditions, one after another. Then it becomes one medication after another. What do you say to these people who just think that aging and experiencing more and more health issues is just pretty much how that part of life works?
Brendan: Unfortunately, this has come to an influence as to the medical community. That a lot of physicians push this idea, not all. I won’t blanket all of them and say that they all say this but, it does, unfortunately, come from them. There was a funny joke I heard one time where an older man who was 75 years old went to the doctor because his shoulder hurt and asking the doctor. What is wrong and what can I do about it. The doctor says well you know you are 75. The guy looks at him and says well my other shoulder doesn’t hurt and that shoulder is 75 years old so that can’t really be the answer. People just assume that the body deteriorates, that it falls apart with time. I have heard people in their 30s and 40s be like oh I am just getting older. This is not the case whatsoever. Just to site once again Dr. Kelly Starrett. He says that the human body, the skeletal system and joints and ligaments and all that will sustain themselves for 110 years under normal to even athletic use. If aligned properly, if the body is in all proper alignment and proper care is taken of it. What people fail to take into consideration is that it does not age it’s the amount of time that they have done abuse to the body including: poor nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of understanding how much their posture affects them and not taking care of these things. It is just an inevitable consequence. It is actually happening faster and faster. I am sure you hear about younger and younger populations coming to you complaining about things that were never present in these younger populations like low back pain, stiffness and pain in joints, obviously we see child onset diabetes happening. It used to be adult onset Type 1. Type 2 is happening to children. We can see that it is not age related. It is lifestyle related. It just catches up. I am actually presenting an e-book. It is essentially an online training guide for people to correct all their chronic pain and posture and my demo model is a 73-year-old women who had two torn rotator cuffs that by simply learning the alignment of her upper body and training accordingly healed with no surgery, and no physical therapy because the body got back into alignment and she can move better than most people in their 50s because of maintaining these types of things. My big message to people is age is not a reason to give up and say well I am just this age so I have to except the fact that my knee hurts. Or that it is inevitable that I am going to have to get this surgery. Surgery makes a lot of money but proactive solutions do not. So, of course, answers are going to go that direction. Take the time to learn a little bit about these subjects and you can reduce and remove all pain. I can’t wait to show everybody my model Liz running around doing squats and jumping jacks and push-ups at 73 years old and she not an anomaly. She has just taken care of herself and made it a priority to be fit and eat well. So absolutely age has nothing to do with how you take care of yourself.
Dr. Z: I agree. Actually on our website we actually have on one of our blog articles is about when you’re on a cellphone and how to have proper posture when you’re looking at your cell phone or texting because when you talked about the younger population having these issues. It is the younger population who is getting lower neck degeneration. So we see that a lot they just get chronic neck pain and they don’t know why. Here they are texting hours a day you know and flipping through Facebook. I find that kids anymore typically have smartphones at a really young age. I had like a flip phone at like 17. Kids are getting smartphones at a really young age and spending a lot of time on it without a certain amount of control time. That their parents aren’t aware of but it is causing a lot of issues for them. At a very young age is it driving that degenerative process which is causing a whole biomechanical issue because when you were talking about rotator cuff. It is important to note that, when somebody loses that proper posture the biomechanics of the human body do not work like they are supposed to. The shoulders, the scapula, they don’t glide like they are supposed to. You were talking about the shoulders being rounded. All of these things, the bone up in the corner the Clavicle scapula they are all meant to work a certain way when in a certain position. When the shoulders are rounded and you no longer have that proper positioning; they aren’t designed to work anymore. So people come in and they have all these concerns. They come to you with these concerns as well and when they do that you got to straighten up. You have to straighten up otherwise in many times like you had mentioned. If somebody has the unfortunate experience of walking into the wrong office or health care practitioner office they just might be doing surgery on that shoulder and it could be a simple biomechanical issue where you’re just working with them to straighten up.
Brendan: You’re 100 percent right and this is my own statistic (I am not siting anything; this is my own experience). Biomechanics in 19 to 20 people that I have worked with (and I have worked with over 1000 clients resolving different types of chronic pain that were all based on biomechanical issues) 19 out of 20 of them it was just a poor postural alignment, poor static movement. Their bodies had just been mal-aligned from spending many hours sitting, not realizing they were in poor posture. They don’t know what good posture even feels like and all these issues coming from it. I was laughing when you brought up the thing about children and their neck they designed a name for this now it’s called Techneck. This forward rounded moving that cervical spine (which straightens it out) causes all these issues but people don’t realize what poor posture actually causes. I like to use the analogy of a car so it’s easier to understand. If you’re in a vehicle and the vehicle has poor alignment just like the alignment of your body. If you have this poor alignment and your driving your vehicle or using your vehicle those tires are going to wear down quickly and unevenly. The tires are just like the joints, the moving part of the car just like the joints in your body. If you replace that bad tire with a new tire, are you really fixing the problem or are you just kind of masking it the way a surgery would? If you don’t fundamentally actually fix the front end of that car, you’re just going to wear that new tire right back down and the same exact thing happens with the human body. I will give an example of a knee. I see this all the time. People have knee pain and they’re like well, the cartilage is worn down. I need surgery. But when they squat down, their legs bow out and their knees knock together. They are no longer using their glutes when they squat. They are using all abductors and hip flection and quadriceps to do their squat, placing tremendous amounts of stress on the knees. Completely mis-aligning how this event is suppose to function rather than putting the weight load on the hips and muscles themselves and causing these problems. A simple mobilization and stretching of those muscles in the inner thigh those abductors, the hip flection muscles, and the quadriceps muscles can make a huge change in knee pain within a2 matter of a week or two. People are not pre-tuned into this information the way that they should be. They go into their physician and I am not going to say that this is all of them. Not all of them are trained to look at injuries this way. They are trained and taught to access and diagnose the pain but you and I both know that the site of pain and the source of pain are two different things.
Dr. Z: Exactly, so when you talk about aging gracefully that is one of the things you discuss quite a bit then, how it really relates back to posture. Is that what I am understanding?
Brendan: I feel that as long as I have been in my field that posture is one of the key aspects of maintaining good health because I find that while eating good, eating healthy is extremely important, if your body hurts, if your joints hurt and you lack mobility, you’re not moving around as much. That secondary lifestyle tends to be a snowball effect of other problems the person also seems to make better choices. I can’t speak to the psychology of that but it seems to be a snowball effect. So I have based a lot of my lifestyle alterations in focusing on posture so this person can feel really good. When they feel really good, their back doesn’t hurt anymore, knees don’t hurt, shoulders aren’t giving them pain, and they aren’t getting chronic headaches. It is easier when your head hurts your going to go for comfort food because you are just in pain and you don’t care. When your back hurts and you don’t feel like moving around you tend to go for. Man, I don’t feel like moving around and I want something that is going to make me feel good right now and what is that going to be? A bad choice in food. I think it is so key to figure out how your posture needs to be and figure out your alignment and take 5 minutes every day just to do something, some gentle stretching and mobilizing of the body to feel better. Now you know if you don’t understand how the body works and the mechanical function, get a little guidance on it because it will make your efforts significantly better and more productive. If you start doing yoga and your body is all messed up anyway you’re not going to move well as it is.
Dr. Z: Yeah, and what we can do actually because there is a couple thing we can do for this episode. We will make sure we post a couple different exercises to help with posture. We will post a link in the show notes and also post a link in Brendan’s Posture PT, so that you can check that out as well. We can also link up some of the other blog articles that I have done on proper posture. This way you have a lot of resources beyond this episode to help you out because I think it is a big deal for a lot of people and I think that it is not just something that you fix and you walk away and you spent the day doing it and you walk away and everything is good. It’s something that you have to put in front of you every day. If you are working and you have a desk job. You need to have that in front of you every day to make sure that your not just falling into this slump and your shoulders are rounded.
What happens after you sit at your desk I am sure that for most people who are trying to pay attention to their posture that they start off with this great straight posture and then from there it just slowly falls to pieces and then they get more and more into what they’re doing the next thing you know they are hunched over and destroying their back, spine, shoulders, and everything else. So we will post all that stuff in the show notes. Now, the next topic that I want to talk to you about quickly because it seems to be a topic that a lot of people are really interested in and that is the topic of meditation. What do you have to say or what are your thoughts on meditation?
Brendan: I can spend an entire hour on this but I won’t. I have derived more benefit from meditation than almost anything else I have done. Exercise has been a wonderful part of my life from an early age but meditation has yielded so many other benefits that you can’t speak about as much because they sound outlandish until you have them yourself and you’re like wow. From a scientific standpoint, I will go into some experiential but from scientific stand point, there is research to show (like I said earlier) that meditation is one of the action vehicles that can stimulate that feel good neurochemical dopamine. The same chemical that if you did a very strong stimulant your body would experience and open the receptors that it acts upon. It never gets down, regulated you always feel good from it. The next thing scientifically that is supported is that there was a study at the University of Coimbatore in India done with a particular meditation called Shambhavi Meditation, it was conducted by the Isha Yoga Institute over there in India. Participants who were practicing this particular practice of Shambhavi. It’s a 21-minute meditation I actually do it myself. We are experiencing about 20 percent activation of their brain as opposed to the average ten percent that psychologists estimate. They were doubling almost all current brain capacity. It wasn’t just in modes of thinking or cognition areas of emotional sensors and other sensors of the brain were lightening up more. The area’s that are responsible for fear or some of the negative (I can’t speak exactly on the anatomy of the brain) but it was showing that certain areas lost density that was more responsible for negative kinds of emotions and actions. And the area’s that we want (Gray matter) increased in density. It literally changes the density of the brain to make you less emotionally reactive, to make you more joyful for no apparent reason and that is the scientific side of it. In my own experience, it starts to reduce your reactivity to situations around you and most people don’t realize how reactive they are. For instances, something happens to you and it invokes an emotion and you react with that emotion. To put this in logical terms: If I was to come up to you and insult you, say some name to you and then you, in turn, got mad. Isn’t that like a certain form of control that I have over you? If I can say something and create an emotional response within your body, I have a certain level of control over you. I have found the practice of meditation breaks that. Where situations that are externally starting to become separate from your internal situation and you start to realize that this internal situation is actually 100 percent up to you. It is a great intellectual realization that comes with practice over time is just such an amazing benefit.
As an entrepreneur having started a business, I am sure you have heard the term before the “entrepreneurial rollercoaster.” Some days you’re like this is amazing and there is no other life for me and then other days you’re like my god, why don’t I just go get a job like everyone else and not have to worry about all this stuff. Clock out and be done with it. You have those and this has been a very potent tool for me to keep my head on straight when things get tough. Also, when things get really good, not to be over confident or to joyful that I make a rash decision. It really helps you see just what you need to see. I have spoken to a business partner of mine who actually has participated in meditation. One thing that makes him so successful in business is when situations come up (good or bad) he doesn’t react to the situation. He looks at the situation extremely objectively, able to remove his own emotions even though it is his business and come up with the best solution possible and I think one of the most powerful tools to achieve that ability is to be able to see a problem for what it is and to handle it the best way possible is to keep those emotions in check and meditation is the best way to do it.
Dr. Z: I feel that a lot of people really don’t understand emotions. There are some people that are just literallydriven. If it’s anger, happiness, frustration, every decision they make they are driven based on that emotion. It was funny that this all came up because I was having a conversation recently and I told somebody, you know I don’t think that for me, my emotions are just things. I look at them and observe what they are and kind of analyze them and then I sit there and think about what to do about it but I don’t emotionally react to pretty much anything. I look at emotions as things that you can look at and analyze them. Have a little bit of fun with them and understand them for what they are and then react accordingly. I understand how you’re saying meditation actually helps you step back from that and look at everything in life from a different perspective because you have more calmness of mind. Or more peace of mind I guess. Is that kind of where you are going with it?
Brendan: Yea, definitely that and I also what to emphasize to people listening. When you say about people reacting on emotion like, wow they are emotionless and that’s not always it. It’s more so the ability to feel these things. So, you can enjoy them. Rather than dictating your actions, they just become part of the experience but they don’t decide how you act. It’s like putting the flavor on your food. It makes the experience juicier and makes them more flavorful. Once again, it is not going to dictate the experience. You can now just enjoy the emotions and see the relevance of them. Let’s be honest, if you truly look at emotional responses, emotions have all kinds of dictatorship. It has your upbringing, your education, your religious belief, and your culture. All these things can dictate the way you view and perceive, therefore emotionally react to situations around you. Does that make your emotional response the correct emotional response or a relevant one? Are your emotions truly relevant to the problems around you or is it just how you feel? You don’t have an omniscient perspective on the situation so are they really to your benefit? Or should it just be more enjoyable? Like hey I can feel these things. It’s a good feeling or it’s a bad feeling and it helps define good situations versus bad ones but we shouldn’t necessarily react to those feelings because they are not necessarily a good guiding tool to proper decision making. And you know highly emotional people don’t often make great decisions.
Dr. Z: Right, exactly. That doesn’t mean that your an insensitive jerk. That is not what that means at all. Like you said the way that I look at things that happen let’s start by saying you’re in a car accident, right? In most people’s minds that is a terrible thing; however, it is really the emotion you attach to it. No matter what that thing is or what happens it is just a thing. You can either put a positive emotion to it or a negative emotion. You could take that car accident and say well I learned not to do this and now that I know the thing I did was not an intelligent thing. I can tell other people and make them aware so they can avoid the same situation I was in. Or you can look at it as, oh that moron who hit me, blank this and blank that. There are two ways you can look at any situation things happen. You could attach a positive or a negative meaning to it and then that emotion is up to you to decide. The way I look at it is, you know things are going to happen all day long so you can decide whether you want to be really happy or really miserable. Those emotions that you’re going to use it is really up to you.
Brendan: You’re 100 percent right. Now let’s just look at what is the most beneficial. Rather than how somebody feels. What is the most beneficial way to react to a situation? Is it to yell and scream and blame the other driver or is it to say okay what went wrong in that situation? What could I have done to prevent it and make it better? What can I take away from this situation and give to others to make sure they don’t experience it and how am I going to not experience this in the future? Basically the way you’re talking sounds a lot like stoicism, which I think is a wonderful tool that people can apply on a daily basis. I don’t know, do you subscribe to any stoicism or read anything of those teachings at all?
Dr. Z: You know, no not really. I don’t no.
Brendan: Well you sound just like one. It is the basic idea is that there are just situations. Not good or bad because that is our own creation, that is good or bad from that perspective. There are just situations. Now, a situation has two given outcomes. Either it is a situation that perpetuates your actions; it promotes your actions, it pushes what you are trying to do forward. Or it impedes your actions where somehow it is a negative towards what you are ultimately trying to do with your life but in turn, it’s a learning opportunity. It is a chance to potentially sharpen the ax. To give you an example of this a famous stoic was Thomas Edison. One night he had come home from work with his son and you know they lived in a small town and I am trying to quote this story as best as possible. I might slip up a little bit. The local insurance guy comes running over and is pounding on the door and says you have to come outside. Your place is on fire. He runs down and looks at his factory and it is burning, all these different colors because there are all these chemicals inside of it. The irony of the situation is he did not insurance for fire because the building was supposed to be fireproof as it is burning down. He turns to his son and at this time the media has already showed up and everyone already knows about it. He turns to his son says go get your mother and all her friends. They will never see such a grand fire again. People were shocked at his reaction and they go how are you not losing your mind right now? He said I have faced many difficult situations in my life before like this and I find these are the situations that drive a man, awaken a man, otherwise if things go well for long, you settle for onward or basically you become comfortable and complacent. You’re not driven to constantly improve. The funny thing is they had been doing about a million dollars in revenue out of that factory. He got the place up to about 50 percent capacity in three weeks and at 6 weeks they were at 100 percent capacity again and that year they did 10 million in revenue. So he came back reinvigorated by facing a challenge, getting better, overcoming it and came out, continuing on his path. A basic resource to bring this into modern perception is a book by Ryan Holiday called The Obstacle is The Way that takes ancient stoicism like a Marcus Aurelius and some of those stoics out the Greek era and brings it with a modern touch. I think it is just at a wonderful perspective. Basically that is what you’re describing without even knowing it, it sounds like.
Dr. Z: It has been a real pleasure having you on our show and sharing our information. How are some of the ways people can reach out to you if they want to get ahold of you?
Brendan: We are about to launch a podcast in the next few days called ThePreventativePodcast.com. You will be able to loginto that site and we will have various resource information available as well as my contact. If you want to get ahold of me right here, right now. I am happy to give out my email address which you can put in the show notes. I will share that later on so people don’t have to remember it while they are driving. I do offer consultations one on one if people are interested in accessing their chronic pain and all these things you can check out. I want to remind everybody to check out the show notes after all the posture articles because I can’t tell you how many people’s lives have changed by learning very simple techniques to change their posture and how much it reduces pain and changes hormones and breathing and therefore oxygen in the body so your energy gets improved all these things. So check out the show notes just for that if nothing else.podcast