What’s here? Hundreds of self-help articles and several advanced tutorials about common pain problems, readable enough for anyone but heavily referenced for professionals. Pain and therapy science is served up with some sass here. The salamander is a symbol for regeneration and unsolved mysteries of biology. — Paul Ingraham, publisher
SaveYourself.ca has been continuously, actively expanded and upgraded for well over a decade with no end in sight. The microblog is a steady stream of tiny announcements about new and upgraded articles on the site, product news for customers, plus anything else that’s fun or interesting that comes to mind as I work, like quotes, interesting science news, or some recommended reading. You can also subscribe to these posts via RSS, or “follow” them on three social media networks: Twitter, Facebook and Google+. See also the complete microblog archives.
Reader C.W. wrote with a good correction: it’s “taijiquan,” not “taiqi,” as I have often carelessly written on this website, despite practicing taijiquan for most of my life. This has been in my mental “need to get clear about that” file for the entire time. I’m a language enthusiast (as a writer should be), and I knew that I didn’t have this down, but just had never gotten around to looking it up. I’ve now fixed this in a few places on SaveYourself.ca.
For a gold star, always use either taiji or, even better, taijiquan — that’s the modern Pinyin transliteration. But the older Wade-Giles version, t’ai chi or t’ai chi ch’uan, is still common, and the simplified tai chi is acceptable and common. Just don’t mix up your chi with your ch’i. Ji and chi are not the same thing as ch’i and qi — almost everyone makes this mistake (including me, for many years). Ji/chi is a philosophical concept, a really deep thought, hard to define and translate, but “pole” or “ultimate” will do. Qi/ch’i refers to breath or life energy, like the western concept of vis vitalis (vital force) or the Greek pneuma (breath, spirit, soul). So t’ai chi really is not tai ch’i — moving the apostrophe changes the meaning.
This information added to the article Tai Chi Helps Fibromyalgia, but It’s Not “Alternative” Medicine (and it’s no accident that title uses “tai chi” — for search engines, you’ve got to stick to the most popular spellings).
Just because a published paper presents a statistically significant result does not mean it necessarily has a biologically meaningful effect.
Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left, Alex Berezow & Hank Campbell
Utterly unsurprising: injecting your own blood doesn’t help tendinitis. Nice to have a decent new trial about this over-hyped therapy though.
The administration of two unguided peritendinous autologous blood injections one month apart, in addition to a standardised eccentric training programme, provides no additional benefit in the treatment of mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy.
Not many good treatment ideas work as well in practice as they do in theory. The null hypothesis is super reliable.www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3629924
Ever run much farther than you thought you could? I haven’t done more than 5km in ages, and I often only do 2km at a time (I’ve never been much for distance as a runner, I like sprinting) … and then suddenly a pair of big 13km runs around Stanley Park in a week! The first run was a total shock, and probably an unwise spike in pavement pounding — honestly, I’m amazed I didn’t hurt myself, prone as I am to RSIs. But I got away with it just fine.
And the 2nd run? I had to see if the 1st was a fluke! I guess it wasn’t — I did just fine again. I’ll be danged.
Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.
George Washington, 1790
This is great! A nicely written reality check on the antibiotics for back pain hype, from PubMed. Great stuff.
Back pain is one of the richest myth mines in all of medicine. An extremely common, often serious, and usually mysterious pain problem = absolutely maximum fertility for bullshit to grow in. There are a great many books about low back pain, and many are garbage, selling snake oil and hype and false hope instead of good information. There are also some fine myth-busting books about low back pain … and mine is one of them.www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behind —SNIP— back-pain
After a burst of recent interest in my article about strength training frequency, and some good discussions with experts, I made some significant changes and a particularly important correction/retraction regarding the metabolic cost of muscle, the 50-calorie-per-pound-per-day myth. My error was pointed out by James Krieger of Weightology, who has written about it. Here’s a more thorough article about it. The gist of the article was fine, but my original text was definitely wrong and misleading on this interesting tangentially related point. I revised that whole section to minimize the importance of muscle-gain for weight loss, and I now acknowledge the original error: “There’s a common myth that every pound of muscle burn about 50–100 calories, which I carelessly repeated myself in early versions of this article. That number is much too high, and no one seems to be sure where it came from — just one of those things that gets passed around.” I elaborate in a footnote:
Less is Not Less
I originally got the 50/day figure from McGuff & Little in Body By Science: “Muscle mass is the most metabolically expensive tissue in the body. You require between 50 and 100 calories a day just to keep a pound of it alive.” This is wrong by a long shot. The brain is vastly more metabolically expensive, for instance. This seems like a clear cut case of confirmation bias: McGuff & Little presented this unsubstantiated myth as fact in their book because it would be wonderful support for their big idea … if only it were true. And then I did the same thing! Arg.”
Sometimes I think: manual therapy is getting progressive, more science-based, clinical reasoning is growing up. Yay!
Then I read my email.
If the contents of my inbox are any measure (and they probably are), then, alas, there is still a great deal of work to do. Crazy numbers of professionals in manual therapy have clearly not even begun to understand the need to properly test treatments. And many even fight it!www.testingtreatments.org/tt-main-text/background/foreword
People ask about this occasionally: no, I don’t actually like my domain name, “SaveYourself.ca.” It smacks of religion & too-good-to-be-true promises and I’m not comfortable with that. It’s a legacy from many years ago when I had no idea what this site would become. I plan to move to a new domain name within a year.
P.S. I may not actually like my domain name, but I do still love my salamander mascot.
Comedian Louis CK on aging joints:
The doctor shows me an x-ray of my ankle and he’s like, “Yeah, your ankle’s just, uh… worn out.”
“What do you mean? I injured my ankle?”
He’s like, “No, it’s just shitty now.”
Even though brains are in total control of pain, your brain also does a lot of that without you. For instance, brains modulate pain based on a number of other things that are completely out of your control, or rather difficult to control, or even just impractical to control. For instance, if you view a painful hand through a magnifying glass, it will actually get more swollen and inflamed — that is, if you make it look bigger, it will get bigger. And the reverse is true! (See Moseley et al.) Use optics to make it look smaller, and swelling will go down. Incredible, right? Jedi pain tricks!
But here’s the (large) catch: do you have a de-magnifying glass handy? Where do you buy even one of those, let alone a big one? What happens if the pain isn’t in a place that’s so easy to de-magnify, like your low back? Although dang interesting, the de-magnification trick is not generally a practical approach. The effect is real under the right circumstances, but trying to use it as a treatment is like trying to take a magician’s trick home with you. For more about pain and “mind over matter,” see Pain is an Opinion.