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Sting operations have been proving that it’s alarmingly easy to publish bogus science. Ergo, it’s more important than ever to consider the source. Ars Technica:
None of this is to say that there is a complete crisis in peer review. At the higher-profile journals with reputations to protect, most of the research is likely to be reliable (with interdisciplinary work being a potential exception). But it should certainly raise an added level of caution about some of the work that is published in the more obscure or overly specialized journals that have popped up in recent years.
This is a video of a two-legged dog, having great fun at the beach.
As summarized by distractify.com:
Duncan Lou is a young boxer discovering the beach for the first time. He happened to be born with two deformed legs, which were removed as a puppy. He has a wheelchair, but he hates it. So instead, he runs full speed unassisted with his two unstoppable fore-legs. When you see him gallivant across the beach, you'll understand. Duncan is pure courage.
So, tell me again how a slight leg length difference or an barely perceptible spinal joint “misalignment” is the cause of someone’s terrible back pain? Biology is fantastically flexible. Minor biomechanical variation is never at the heart of any common, serious pain. In fact, even major ones are often handled gracefully: in dogs or people. Which is not to say that a pup like Duncan Lou won’t grow up to have some pain (he probably will), but it puts minor biomechanical glitches in perspective.
The sketchiest methods will always be promoted the most aggressively.
In spite of my strong general skepticism about stretching, I wouldn’t hesitate to do some for a strained muscle. It’s hardly a big commitment to stretch one muscle a little. If you are gentle, it won’t do any harm. And, as with gentle contraction of the muscle, stretching may help cue healing mechanisms in your muscle to lay down new connective tissue in an tidier way. And this idea is supported by a little shred of evidence from 2004 Malliaropoulos et al that showed that about 40 strained Greek athletes who stretched recovered faster than those who didn’t. How much faster? They regained their range of motion about 22% sooner, and their “rehabilitation period” was about 12% shorter. The researchers reported that this was of “great importance in treating muscle strain injuries.”
I’m not quite that thrilled by those numbers — they’re good, not great. It’s also probably the only study of its kind, and I don’t particularly trust it. But it is promising data that provides a solid reason to experiment with rehab stretching. I do hope it’s true, even it’s not of “great importance”!
“The role of stretching in rehabilitation of hamstring injuries: 80 athletes follow-up”
I’m telling my story: the rather dramatic fate of my massage career, how SaveYourself.ca became profitable, and the nail-biting transition between the two. The introduction is now available on my sleepy little personal blog, Writerly, and the first dozen chapters are queued up — they’ll be freely available while I finish writing the book.
It all began innocently enough, when I got excited by the potential of selling e-books to supplement my massage therapy income, and I started moonlighting and pulling 12-hour days. That’s when the money started to flow. And the trouble…
I keep hearing the claim that taping can increase circulation, and this is one of the main ways that it enhances performance. I’ve made fun of that claim. When I first looked at the results of a 2013 study, I was ready to eat some humble pie and issue a mea culpa: the results of Aguilar-Ferrándiz et al seemed more encouraging than I expected.
Mixed Kinesio taping-compression therapy improves symptoms, peripheral venous flow and severity and slightly increases overall health status in females with mild chronic venous insufficiency.
But @exuberantdoc brought me back to my senses by quipping “compression socks with tape.” I don’t mind being wrong and admitting it, but I don’t think I need to do it today, about this. Circulation is driven pretty much exclusively by metabolic demand — not by minor stimulation of the skin and superficial connective tissues. The idea that tape can increase circulation anywhere near enough to fight fatigue while exercising is extremely wishful thinking. Blood doping, cocaine, and better fitness can fight fatigue — not tape. In someone with venous insufficiency — basically, blood pooling in the legs — you can bind up their calves with tape like compression socks, and that will be … about as helpful as compression socks, of course. There’s not really any reason to use tape for that. If tape (or compression socks) had a measurable circulatory effect on healthy people, now that would be mildly interesting. But it would be downright shocking if it was a robust enough effect to affect athletic performance (let alone elite performance). I’ve updated my taping article with a citation to Aguilar-Ferrándiz et al, plus this perspective:
I’m pleased to announce the first complete professional editing of two of my books — about plantar fasciitis and iliotibial band syndrome. Although the difference will not be obvious to most readers, several hundred improvements and corrections were made to each, and the reading is definitely smoother.
What took me so long? Logistics and cash. Like any truly professional writer, I always knew I needed good editorial help, but that can be hard to find and pay for. Editing a book is a Big Deal. But SaveYourself.ca has grown to the point where it finally got important and affordable, and I was lucky enough to find a skilled, reliable editor: JoAnne Dyer of Seven Madronas Communications. After working with JoAnne on many smaller projects over the last couple years, I asked her to start working on my books. Two down, six to go!
I am often criticized for failing to suggest alternatives when criticizing bad ideas in therapy, especially in my article about “structuralism” (overemphasizing biomechanical factors in therapy). It’s a bogus gripe: failing to suggest a wardrobe for the emperor to wear tomorrow doesn’t make him any less naked today. Structuralism is a deeply flawed basis for therapy regardless of whether anything can readily replace it. But I’ve gone ahead and made some simple suggestions anyway, in a short new conclusion to the article (link takes you directly to the conclusion).
There will be much more on this so-what-does-work theme over the next couple years. I’m just getting started on it.
I enjoy it when extremely different interests overlap. I am a nut for Roman history, and I recently found a reference to massage in a charmingly oddball context: “massage instead of exercise” as an explanation for the corruption and weakness of the Vandals, and how they lost their North African kingdom to the last great Roman General, Belisarius, in the 6th Century.
Almost everything about this historical situation was a little odd. It was odd that a Germanic tribe had migrated all the way to North Africa and taken Carthage from the Romans in the first place. It was odd that Rome had lost Italy as well, yet continued to thrive in the east. Belisarius himself was a remarkable character, almost freakishly competent. And rarely in history has any hostile takeover been as rewarding as the Vandal occupation of Carthage: they got about as rich from it as anyone has ever been, and it should have been easy for them to keep their kingdom.
But perhaps the wealth did make them soft. In Robert Graves’ as-true-as-possible novel about the life of Belisaurius, Count Belisarius, he describes the condition of the Vandals like so:
As for their fighting qualities: these fair-skinned, fair-haired Northerners had now, by the third generation, become acclimatized to Africa. They had intermarried with the natives, changed their diet and yielded to the African sun (which makes for ill-temper rather than endurance) — and to such luxuries as silk clothes, frequent bathing, spiced foods, orchestral music, and massage instead of exercise. This enervating life had brought out strongly a trait common to all Germanic tribes, namely an insecure hold on the emotions.
And so Belisarius beat them. Outrageously outnumbered, far from home, without even the element of surprise, and thanks only to a little good luck, he beat them fair and square and reclaimed Carthage for Rome, before moving on to take Italy back as well. I bet the Vandals really regretted all that enervating massage!