This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Mike Reinold. Mike is one of the nation’s leading physical therapists and a world-renown educator of occupational therapists, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning specialists, the proprietor of MikeReinold.com, and is here to tell us about the importance of moving smarter.
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Jonathan: Hey everyone, Jonathan Bailor here with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast episode. I am very, very excited about today’s episode because we truly have an educator of educators on the show today, an individual who has left such a mark on the physical fitness just biomechanic exercise arena. Just a wealth of knowledge individual who has published more than 50 journal articles, got his doctorate degree in physical therapy from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions in Boston. He works with professional athletes, he has been featured on ESPN, Men’s Health, our guest today, Dr. Mike Reinold is all over the place and is truly like the man when it comes to physical movement; what’s good, what’s bad and what we should do to cure what ails us. Mike, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Mike: Yes, thanks for having me as well Jonathan and wow that was heck of an introduction. Wow, I don’t know even know what to say, I think I am blushing over here. That was impressive. I think I need to hire you as my marketing team, but thanks for having me obviously Jonathan I have been kind of chatting for a while online just about some various topics and obviously I have been impressed with the research and the contributions that you guys are making with your group as well to really our body of knowledge and just the promotion of health and wellness. It’s an honor to be kind of involved with you guys. So, definitely appreciate being involved with you guys and being on this call today.
Jonathan: Thank you so much Mike and the one thing I wanted to really bring you on the show to do was, you have your doctorate, you are an expert in this field and I really want to today elucidate when we talk about medicine. Individuals are generally very intentional about the types of medicine we would take, like there is an FDA and there are these rigorous trials that things we put into our body go through and we are certainly very careful not just to take or ingest anything, but I sometimes feel that physical activity which is just as potent from a stimulating chemical or hormonal changes in our body and neurological changes, where sometimes it seems like we are written a prescription of just do anything, just take anything, just listen to this person, or just try this, or just move your body in this way and Mike you know from years and years and thousands of hours of clinical and practical experience that physical movement is such a potent medicine that we really need to be intentional about how we use it, no?
Mike: Yes absolutely. I think the same concept between exercise, I think you can use diet as a parallel a little bit and it is the same concept there, it is not just throw any sort of diet or throw any sort of fad at you whenever it may be, you know the latest trend in nutrition or the latest trend in diet or whatever it may be, it is the same thing with exercise. You can’t just kind of go by the latest trend or whatever it may be in exercise. There is a smarter way of doing it and I think that’s a little bit around the theme of really your aspect and your group which obviously deals with both the diet and nutrition and then obviously the exercise, but there is a smarter way to exercise as well.
That’s the interesting part. For me and I think for you and I think we share that in common is that yes if we do a better job at educating the public about the science of what’s behind let’s just call it “Smart Exercise.” Like yours the Smart[sic] Science of Slim, but we will start with Smart[sic] Science of Exercise, I think there is definitely a different pathway that you may go down that you just need to be educated. You need to understand that there are different things out there.
Jonathan: Mike what would you say are some of the key characteristics and folks I just want to give a quick disclaimer here, we only got half hour with Mike today. He is a very, very busy man, but he has an amazing website. It is MikeReinold.com and his last name is spelled R-e-i-n-o-l-d and there is just like thousands and thousands of articles and a bunch of free stuff there, so please check it out.
In our half hour today Mike, let’s start digging into what are some of those characteristics of smarter exercise broadly and how, and I am talking for someone who is not working for the Boston Red Sox, like many of your clients are, but for the average person who is just trying to get fit and avoid the diabesity epidemic, what are some characteristics of smarter exercise and some red flags as we should watch out for it to indicate unintelligent exercise let’s say?
Mike: Yes, I think one of the biggest problems we face is that, and you said this several times before I have heard this from you obviously is that you can’t just expect to watch an infomercial on TV at 3 o’clock in the morning and expect that that program is specific enough and applicable enough to you. As everybody is unique, everybody is individual and what program works with some people, aren’t going to work with everybody. So, unfortunately what get hit with, we get hit with the marketing stream of exercise fads that’s just based on profitability not on what’s the best thing for you to do. So, you are not going to see this crazy expensive infomercial on a program that’s designed for everybody to just be healthy. You are going to see more of the glitz and the glamor type program and that’s not to say that some of those programs aren’t appropriate for some people, but the way I see it is the general scheme of fitness and wellness is this huge variability in two ends of spectrums.
If you have one end of a spectrum, you have the elite level athlete, somebody that’s using their body in an athletic endeavor to its extreme and then on the other end of the spectrum, you just have somebody that needs to exercise for health and wellness, somebody that just wants to decrease their blood pressure or just be more fit or live longer to play with their grandkids longer, that kind of concept.
You have this huge spectrum and somewhere in the middle obviously is a range of fitness enthusiasm and I like going out, there are some people that love to, for lack of better words, pump iron or love to feel, I love to deadlift a heavyweight because I love the way I feel afterward. To me that’s different, that’s not health and wellness. That’s when exercise has turned into either a sport or a hobby and that’s different.
If it is entertainment for you, that’s different, but I think for general audience, from my impression from you is there is a bell curve here and if those elite level people that are doing the extreme fitness will say, they are doing it as not only exercise, but also a sport and a hobby in competitive type nature whatever it may be, that’s great, but that’s only a small portion of the bell curve and the rest of everybody else, that may not be applicable, so there has to be a solution for them as well and that’s where kind of that smart exercise comes in where you have to be educated on what works, what doesn’t work just like diet fads.
There are a lot of diet, why don’t diets work, everybody says why doesn’t a diet work because you don’t stick to it. It’s too extreme or it’s too different from what you’re used to. It doesn’t have a long term kind of stick factor, that means the stick factor. It’s the same thing with exercise. If you do anything too extreme or too out of the ordinary for you, too time consuming, whatever it may be, you are not going to stick with it. So, there has to be a smarter, more simpler way to exercise and that’s really where I think you guys are really champion in this effort a little bit and done a great job with your systems.
Jonathan: Thank you Mike and I think you hit on a point which I think is actually and this really did surprise me, it is the most common question I ever get and it is continuing for the past year plus, I still continue to get it and that’s this distinction you have made which is so profound of the difference between a sport and a hobby and using physical movement as in some ways a preventative or treatment measure for obesity and diabetes and those types of metabolic dysfunction diseases, like if you want to become a better pitcher, you will do a very specific type of physical movement to make you a better pitcher.
So, the global point here is that physical movement, exercise is so goal dependent. So, when we say do X to help prevent and treat obesity and diabetes long-term, that may not and likely will not be the best approach if your goal is to become a better marathon runner because exercise is very much goal specific, right?
Mike: Absolutely and it is about specificity of training. If your goal is ‘I want to run a marathon,’ well then you have to train very specific for that and that’s different, but that’s your goal, that’s you sport, that’s your hobby whatever it may be, that’s I think a different group than I think what we are talking about.
If your goal is to simply live longer or if your goal is simply to have more fun and retirement because I don’t want to be tight or injured or unable to perform activities because I am not healthy, if those are you goals then I think that’s different and you have to have a sustainable program that does that, that’s smart based program, that’s completely different.
Jonathan: I think an interesting distinction Mike is something I have not fully formulated in my mind yet, but primary effect versus side effect and I think this is part of the reason things can be confusing. For example, if you do one of these extreme plyometric, first of all let’s say you a non-athlete, so you are a 35-year-old mother of three who is potentially carrying 30 more pounds of fat around on your body than you need and you engage in one of these more extreme plyometric forms of exercise and you may see some metabolic benefit, but you also start to see like your knees are hurting, your joints are hurting, you slip and you twist your ankle and you are really, really hungry all the time for some reason like the side effect of that type of exercise may be some positive metabolic change, but the primary effect doesn’t really have to do with metabolic change, but a lot of physical movement will have side effects in, let’s call it metabolic healing arena, but there are also forms of exercise which really like their primary benefit is in the metabolic arena and not in the athletic arena and what are some of the characteristics of exercise that shift their primary benefit to let’s call it athleticism and their primary benefit to metabolic healing versus a side effect?
Mike: Yes, I think you brought up a lot of great points. Let’s say that example so that that person you mentioned, the 35-year-old mom, she is whatever it may be, if she is engaging in that like you call I think extreme kind of fitness type things, whatever it may be, to me there are different rationales, so why is she doing that? Maybe she is a former collegiate soccer player and she misses the community aspect or she misses the competitive nature that she doesn’t have in her life. Don’t get me wrong as a father myself, I am competing with my children all the time [crosstalk 12:39].
Jonathan: They want you to not sleep, but you want to sleep, but who is going to win?
Mike: Absolutely, there is always some sort of struggle in it, seems like we always lose, so may be that’s her take, using her as an example, she has been losing, she has been losing all these competitions. So, to me that’s a different reason. She is doing that for a different reason. So, she may get some benefits from that type of exercise, but it’s not what you are talking about. It is different and I think that’s what the general public needs to understand that there is a difference here is that that might not be applicable to them, maybe they want to take the chance that I am going to do my best to not injure myself or I still want to do it because I like the aspects of it that don’t have to do with my health but more have to do with some of the community aspects and the competitive aspects, maybe I want do it because it is fun, that’s fun but again there is a smart way to do that too. So, it is different.
I think you are correct, if your general goal is to ‘I want to prevent diabetes,’ then there is probably easier, better, safer ways to do that that you don’t need to risk developing a raging patellar tendinitis or whatever it may be from too many exercises. So, to me it just really depends on the different person here, but more importantly is that the general public to me needs to realize that doing more simple and safer and more smart training like you call it has a profound effect on our health and our lives and it’s not just these extreme things or just these popularized marketing types of fitness programs that are effective.
These other ones are equally as effective in various ways and are really just depends on what it is and I mean heck let’s be honest. Here is a dilemma that are always kind of makes me laugh a little bit here, but you go to your doctor and he says okay, here is your annual checkup, well your cholesterol is little bit high, you should really change your diet, maybe exercise a little bit, yada, yada, yada. That’s fine.
Next year you go back, he is like you know what your cholesterol is still high, well I guess it’s time for Lipitor and you are like wait a minute what about actually prescribing smart exercise and prescribing smart fitness and nutrition type aspects here. It’s like our society is too quick to jump to the pill versus putting the effort into do it, but maybe it is an educational thing, maybe people don’t realize that there are more simple ways and less time consuming ways and essentially just remaining active and moving the right way can be equally as beneficial, maybe we are so blitzed with the “I need to do a 90-minute DVD or I need to go everyday to this gym and do this,” may be we are so blitzed that we think that “I am just going to give up and do nothing,” but that can’t be the solution either.
Jonathan: Absolutely and I think another challenge there Mike because what you articulated is excellent where it seems like you are either at zero or 90 miles an hour. For lot of people, that is like I don’t feel safe driving at 90 miles an hour. I don’t want to or my car doesn’t even go that fast.
Mike: Right, so I’m just going to do nothing.
Jonathan: Just going to leave it in the driveway, but another thing Mike and I am curious to get your take on this is when we talk about smarter exercise and you know this obviously from the physiology of the body, once you start to exercise smarter, for example using higher levels of resistance or intensity, you can do things metabolically in minutes and I am talking one minute, two minutes, three minutes that no quantity of less intelligent exercise will ever do.
It’s almost like if you can take as many baby aspirin as you want, it will not have the same effect on you as if you were to take one Percocet. It’s a different thing and because I think that’s so profound because I feel as human nature, we have this predictably irrational aspects of our brain where we equate doing more with doing better and if we can’t do more, like if we only have 10 minutes, we are like well forget about it, I can’t do anything in 10 minutes that will possibly help me whereas in reality there are things you could do in 10 minutes that would help you avoid diabetes and obesity more than if you just went outside and ran a 5k probably.
Mike: Absolutely and actually there is a study published a couple of summers ago that I remember had a big impact on the way I looked at exercise, et cetera, but they looked at the life spans and they looked at the effect of exercise on life spans and essentially what they found I will just kind of paraphrase briefly here, but just exercising 15 minutes a day had an increase in your longevity, just 15 minutes a day.
So, this whole like oh I am going to go to the gym and get on the treadmill for an hour, I am going to do that two to three times a week, okay that’s one approach but is that sustainable, are you going to for the rest of your lives, are you always going to have time to drive to the gym and drive back to the gym and go on the treadmill and just grind it away, with what you say, stupid exercise we will say or not smart exercise.
Is that something you are going to be able to sustain or can you squeeze in 10 to 15 minutes a day? Can you do that when you wake up in the morning, just real briefly, just kind of get a quick smart workout and make that part of your lifestyle? That’s completely different to me.
Jonathan: What I also think there is a profound empowering, let’s just call it injury prevention nature, I even noticed Mike that one of the challenges I faced historically when I did less intelligent exercise and it was more in the athletic arena is if you go into an exercise session tired or knowing that you have to do it for 90 minutes, the first 45 minutes you have really just phoning it in, may be you were even watching television or reading a book and that’s when you accidentally don’t step on the treadmill and you stepped on the side part, you fall, and you are broken because the mind is going, if you are tired, you are going to move differently than if you are not and if you know you have 60 more minutes of this to do, you are going to move differently than if it’s the last minute of what you are doing. So, what do you think in terms of injury prevention, of having forms of exercise where we can really be present in the moment and focused, what are your thoughts on that?
Mike: I think it comes back down to what you have been saying here is that if you have a doable sustainable type of program that’s maybe 10 minutes for example, 15 minutes like you kind of advocating little bit here, you know in you head that okay this is going to be what I am doing, my lifestyle change, you are going to do a better job at that. I am going to give you and all your listeners a big secret in the world of physical therapy here, so I am going to help you out, maybe this will hurt my profession when I give you a secret.
Jonathan: Here is the secret.
Mike: The secret behind every type of injury, almost every injury I can think of is movement. That’s our secret weapon and in almost everything here. If you have low back pain, you know what helps the most, movement. You have a knee pain, you know what helps the most, movement. Shoulder pain, movement. Neck pain, movement. That movement is the key to health.
Us sitting in our desk in terrible posture with our desk jobs et cetera, that is really a ticket to pain, a ticket to dysfunction and injury whatever it may be. So, movement is really the solution to everything. So, if you go to a physical therapy clinic for low back pain and your treatment consists of passive modalities like heat and ultrasound and E-Stim, that’s not physical therapy, that’s not really what our profession is about.
It’s about movement and it’s about doing smart moving, which really fits along with your theme here is it’s educated, specific, individualized programming for you for whatever it may be, but movement is the cornerstone. So, really if you look at what has happened to us in terms of exercise and stuff with technology we sit so long during the day. We sit all day at our desk. We type, we run our Blackberries, our iPhones, whatever it may be now and just in this terrible hunched over position. We have to almost get to and this is kind of what I call it, but this reverse posturing kind of thing.
Your posture all day becomes habit if you never reverse it. So, if you just continuously hunch forward at your desk, that’s going to be a habitual posture that you were going to get. Then you are going to stand up and you are going to still have that posture and that leads to imbalances and essentially just poor movement patterns. So, what’s going to happen now is that you are going to function poorly. You are going to go now, you are going to slouch forward, you are going to go into the kitchen and try to reach up into a cupboard and get a glass and you are going to hurt your shoulder because it’s not meant to do that. So, it is different. The test we always do, this is funny.
So, maybe everybody during the podcast now can kind of do this, but sit down if you are not, you’re probably already sitting anywhere, slouch for real bad, like really bad posture to slouch down like as bad as you can be and try to lift both arms up into the air. There is not that much room, right? You kind of pinch, you can’t even get your arms to your head, you run out of room.
Jonathan: I am doing it, I feel like a bodybuilder. I can’t…I have no range of motion.
Mike: You feel like what a bodybuilder would look like. Yes I understand yes, and what is it that you are running out of room, so you are pinching your rotator cuff technically between two bones, that is what shoulder impingement is to an extent. Now, imagine if you lived in this position and functioned in this position, that’s going to do some wear and tear on the shoulder. Now sit up nice and tall, give me as best posture as you can right now, lift your arms…sorry.
Jonathan: Mike’s getting into it…[crosstalk 22:35].
Mike: I got excited, but lift your arms all the way up over head now, wow you can go all the way over head and you clear that joint a little bit. So, that’s that postural adaptation. So, what do you have to do, you have to move. So if you sit on a desk all day, you have to move, you have to get up hourly, you have to move around. Even if it’s just taking a walk or whatever it may be, that’s part of that reverse posturing concept, but then the other aspect is just getting on a routine exercise program, that smart exercise program that’s doable at 10 to 15 minutes that gets you moving because it is going to help everything.
So, you brought up this, I start rambling a little bit, I get excised here but you brought up injury prevention and how do you prevent injury. This is moving is how you prevent injury because in this society as a physical therapist I will tell you what I see the most is injuries or dysfunctions that people have because they are not moving enough. So that to me is about moving. Now if you can move in a smart way like you advocate, so that way you have even better goals, not just moving around, but also can have some goals that effects you on the cellular level, fantastic.
Jonathan: Mike that is such profound, I love that demonstration and one thing I have found and one thing I try to combat is this perception that what I am advocating is a lack of exercise, like I am promoting a lack of movement and that is actually not it at all. What I am promoting is I see there is almost a spectrum.
On one end there is kind of like you talk about this very, very casual person and there is an athlete. I see on one end of the spectrum, this is obviously an oversimplification, but there are movements that truly we are designed to do, walking is a good example, standing upright versus slouching at a desk, these are things which doing them really has no side effect, like the more you walk, of course you could drink too much water, you could breathe too much air, you could probably walk too much, but the likelihood of us doing that is not really a problem and standing up tall, there is really a low likelihood that that will ever result in anything negative.
So, I feel like we need to dial up these basics and even these restorative type, almost physical, these almost therapeutic movements, if we have time, like let’s go there and then let’s jump to the other end of the spectrum which is like again for the individual who is just looking to prevent obesity, diabetes, and feel great, very intense but still very safe exercise, but what we hear the most are these in the middle exercises which are not really natural, they are not really intense and they are risky and let’s just move out to those either edge of the spectrum rather than spending all the time in the middle.
Mike: Right absolutely, I think if we could – let’s comment first on the restorative I think is how you phrase it kind of techniques or whatever it may be, that’s huge in the world of exercise and fitness. From somebody from my perspective that I deal with a broad range of clientele from kids to senior adults to professional athletes in the middle. I deal with a giant range of people. When you look at professional athletes, the people that get the elite level care we will say, if you look at them, they have as much aggressive intense training than they do restorative or what we call regen type activities as well; regeneration. We have just as much of that because we know that having a restorative quality of some of our exercises is going to result in better performance.
Now, I don’t mind using the word performance. Everybody seems to think when I say performance that means hitting a home run for some reason, but you just being able to walk around in the supermarket is performance in my mind, you are performing that, you are performing human function, may be not a support function, but you are still performing, so for me I think there is a big area of people that could get more exposed to some of these restorative regen type activities and that’s again based off movement.
So, what are some of these that I like – I am sure you could probably comment on something you like too things like yoga or things like foam rolling and even some active or dynamic type stretching type activities, to me those are good because you are moving. So, foam rolls are big topic in the fitness industry. Foam roll, we want to lengthen our muscle tissues, we want to change our soft tissue, we want to massage them a little bit, okay, all right I agree with all that, I don’t know if I foam rolled my muscle all day, if I am going to have any real changes on my soft tissue.
I may change my tone, I may change the way I feel, but I don’t think I am really lengthening my muscles any differently. So, it may not be the goal we are getting but what you do is you are moving, so again you are getting them moving, you are getting that smart thing, same thing as yoga or dynamic type stretching, Pilates, whatever it may be, it’s just getting fluid, again it is getting out of your terrible posture that we spend all day and getting into this good zone of posture that we spend all day.
To me I think that’s probably not focused on enough and to me if there is one thing I could change, even with just myself, I think I would try to focus more on aspects of that myself because I know I will feel better afterwards.
Jonathan: Mike, I think one of the profound truths in what you just said was really getting back to the Hippocratic Oath which is first do no harm. If we are going to spend our valuable time moving, let’s ensure that we are already going out of our way, like we are already going out of our way, let’s make sure that first that activity doesn’t do harm, that’s goal number one because if you hurt yourself, speaking from experience, you may not even be able to move moving forward and that’s why I think these restorative exercises and the challenges is is they’re not sexy, we don’t see people on TV sweating with cool lighting, but I guess we could, we just need to make those infomercials, but avoiding the need essentially go to a physical therapist, I am not trying to put you out of business.
Mike: No, I want to be out of business, but some of that is the misconception of physical therapy, so you don’t have to have a blowout injury to come see us, we can help you with some of these early stages. If you are at a desk your entire life, you are at some 25 years at a desk job and you want to start moving in here, seeing any physical therapist can help kick start that little bit because you probably need some manual therapy, you probably need some very specific kind of corrective exercises that you can perform to kind of open you up and get you in a better position, so that you can now do your smart exercise training.
I agree 100 percent, a lot of this isn’t going to, none of it is going to, you are not going to have washboard abs, right? You are not going to lose 30 pounds in two weeks, you are not going to have ripped muscles out of your mind type things by doing any of these things, so they are a bit boring, they are not sexy. So, I guess it’s the commodity of feeling better versus the commodity of being stronger or having flat abs. It’s funny like we will put the time and the effort into trying to get washboard abs even though we are not banging our head against the wall trying to achieve that goal, but people wouldn’t put the 10 minutes into feeling better because they haven’t been educated, it’s not popular and it has not been shown that just by moving 10 to 15 minutes a day with smart training is going to have huge impact on your quality of life because you are going to be able to do things better.
Jonathan: Mike, here is the unfortunate irony is that why do we want those washboard abs, why do we want those toned arms? Because we think it will make us feel better.
Mike: True, we have equated that, yes that is a good point.
Jonathan: When it is this distinction between happiness coming from the external rather than the internal – you can short-circuit all of that and just feel good and here is the good news is if you incorporate smarter eating and you incorporate some safe and higher intensity exercise, you will simultaneously see those external benefits, but you can just short-circuit it and start feeling good today.
Mike: Yes, absolutely and it is just a paradigm shift in the way we think about it, so again programs and stuffs like what you are advocating is the step in the right direction.
Jonathan: Mike, thank you so much. This is brilliant and folks, please, please, do check out Mike’s website, it is a treasure trove of smart exercise information, and again that’s MikeReinold.com, R-e-i-n-o-l-d.com, the educator of educators, the man who puts the smart in smarter exercise. Mike, thank you so much for joining us today, I really do appreciate it.
Mike: Thanks Jonathan, it was a pleasure and I wish you guys and all your listeners the best of life trying to achieve some of these goals.
Jonathan: Thank you so much Mike, and listeners I hope you have enjoyed today’s show as much a I have and remember, this week and every week after; eat more and exercise less, but be sure to do that smarter. Talk with you soon.
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