3 September 2013

In this issue...

  • What's New at StrongFast?
  • Feature Article: Compensation Patterns
  • Fitness Found Online
  • Food Label: Fruit & Nut Bar

What's New at StrongFast?

OK, this time the comments should work! Another change on the website. This edition should look much nicer, especially on mobile devices. Yay!


"It's the clean and jerk not clean the jerk,
so get away from me with that scrub brush!"

-Brik Hausman

Feature Article: Compensation Patterns

The human body is remarkably adaptable. Lose your eyesight and other senses will work harder to try to make up the difference. Have no arms and you learn to do amazing things with your feet.

But most restrictions are not so drastic: restricted shoulder mobility, weak posterior chain, knee or back pain...people live with these kinds of nagging problems all the time and find ways to compensate by changing the way they move. These compensation patterns can be very effective, but also problematic: these movement patterns usually lead to other problems.

child-squatConsider one of the most common and obvious examples: the squat. Squatting is a natural human movement and we're very good at it from the time we can walk. Over the years, the absence of squatting causes restrictions and leads to compensation patterns. For example, instead of squatting to pick something up from the floor, people may bend at the waist (leading to low back problems). Or lacking sufficient dorsiflexion in the ankles, people may squat on the balls of their feet with a forward posture (leading to knee problems).

Compensation patterns are insidious because people usually don't realize anything is wrong. They're getting by just fine, so what's the problem? But eventually, the compensations get more severe and people wind up falling down into chairs and needing an assist to stand back up.

man-with-walkerEven (or especially) athletes experience compensation patterns as they try to work around a pain or restriction, or try to bypass a weakness. But when muscles are asked to do things they're not designed to do, they often wind up injured. And that can lead to new compensation patterns, and may result in a life of pain and restricted mobility.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these kinds of problems. The two big things to remember:

  1. Use good form in your exercises, including full range of motion. (Expect to see a lot more about this in upcoming issues.)
  2. Instead of working around your weaknesses, work on them. This includes using good form, but also includes using accessory and mobility exercises to overcome those weaknesses.

Following these two guidelines can help you feel better, move better, and stay healthier for a long time. And that's the best compensation of all.

Be seeing you



Fitness Found Online

calories on food labelAn interesting look at calorie counting. Since using calories is a highly complex process that varies by person, timing, types of food, and more, the calories listed on food labels can't possibly be accurate. The most interesting takeaway is that we can change the way our body burns calories. Expect to see more about this in a future Planet.
meditation statueThe Atlantic takes a prosaic look at mindfulness meditation. It's a little dull (not surprising, given the subject matter), but a worthwhile read for anyone who experiences significant stress. So that's pretty much everyone. For a more in-depth (and interesting) read, check out Thich Nhat Hanh's classic The Miracle of Mindfulness.

Food Label: Fruit & Nut Bar


This must be a healthy treat, right? It's fruit and nuts! What could possibly go wrong? Let's go see!


Normally, we start with the ingredients. But here, the nutrition facts are on the back with the ingredients under the flap. So let's play along. As usual, first stop: sugar. Hmmm, 12g. That means more than a third of the bar is sugar. 25g of carbs and only 3g of protein. This already isn't looking good. Now let's see why, perhaps, the ingredients were hidden.


Is it too much to ask for a "Fruit & Nut" bar to have fruits and/or nuts as the first two ingredients? But no. We start with grains and follow it with sugar. That explains the high carb count. Next up is raisins. Yes, technically that's a fruit, but it's the candy of the fruit world (and that's saying something). Next we get our nuts, and then...sugar, some filler, and more sugar (fructose). Finally another fruit, although at this point "cranberry" would probably be more accurate than "cranberries" and the rest is crap.

So while this would more accurately be named a "Sugar & Oats" bar, it's still no match for products like "Fruit Loops" which have no fruit at all. Caveat emptor!

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