Introduction: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show: Sleep Biohacks, Is Baby Powder Healthy, The Best Workout To Look Good Naked, Can You Reverse Tooth Cavities, How To Get A Stronger Neck, and much more!
Brock: Good day to you, Ben. I hope your work space smells better than mine at the moment. Our – my downstairs neighbors are super hippies…
Brock: They like to burn incense all the time. And…
Brock: It’s been really hot and incense and then they’re smokers, so that delightful loft is coming in through my window right now. They’re super nice people, really good friends, I bear them no ill will – it’s just the smell.
Ben: Like cigarette smokers.
Brock: Yeah, cigarette smoke. Cheap like patchouli or jasmine or something…
Ben: I was gonna ask if it was patchouli.
Brock: Yeah. And then it’s like 30 some degrees Celsius so – like a 100 or close to a 100 degrees.
Ben: I don’t have a – I don’t have a big issue with smaller amounts of patchouli. Patchoulis actually got some pretty cool like therapeutic properties to it and it’s actually…
Brock: The smell does? Or ingesting it?
Ben: Specifically for your skin.
Ben: It’s actually really good as like an anti-wrinkle type of lotion for the skin, but the problem of course is the scent and I do agree that hippies take it far too far when it comes to the patchouli application, that’s unfortunate, man.
Ben: I’m sorry about that.
Brock: It’s a bummer, it’s a bummer.
Ben: My office smells like a forest, it smells amazing.
Brock: [laughs] Because you live in a forest!
Ben: Mmm, yeah. No, actually I defused evergreen essential oil into my office – it reduces cortisol.
Brock: Oh yeah! I remember that study, they were putting little drops on like even if you are in a hotel room and downtown Tokyo or something, you could take some evergreen oil and you would have the same reaction as doing like forest bathing?
Ben: Probably would work in places other than Tokyo, too.
Brock: [laughs] I just probably…
Ben: But yeah, the…
Brock: Limited to central Japan.
Ben: I put it on Instagram. I posted – I don’t know if people follow me on Instagram but over on instagram.com/ whatever my Instagram name is bengreenfieldfitness.
Brock: I think its bengreenfieldfitness – very inventive.
Ben: Yeah, inventive. Then instagram.com/bengreenfieldfitness, I posted you know, you only allowed to do 15 second videos on Instagram but I showed like this little – I used a water-based vacuum and defused essential oils into my office, and I used this Evergreen essential oil which contains the same compounds that they used in like this concept of a shinrin yoku or forest bathing or cortisol reduction so, yeah.
Brock: You used a water based vacuum like the vacuum of your floors?
Ben: Mmm-hmm. Yeah.
Brock: What is water here?
Ben: Jessa and I just talked about it in a recent Inner Circle podcast.
Brock: Ah, yeah.
Ben: And I also got a guy on about a one hour long show that I’m gonna release hopefully in the next three to four weeks on this podcast about like water-based versus dry based vacuums and the difference in terms of like controlling things like fungi and mold and dust mites and stuff like that, so.
Brock: So you’re telling me I’ll just have to wait to find out?
Ben: You just gotta wait, man.
Brock: Alright. Alright.
Ben: Be patient. Sniff some patchouli.
Brock: Fine. Fine. [laughs)] I am, oddly enough.
Ben: If you can’t beat them, join them.
Brock: And if you can’t beat them, you may as well join them over at Twitter.com/bengreenfield where you can get all of these news flashes and then have us hammer them home on a weekly basis right now.
Ben: Every single news flash that I wanna talk about in today’s show is about sleep.
Brock: Hmmm, nice!
Ben: It’s pretty cool.
Brock: I need to get in the fetal position while you read them.
Ben: Yeah, I’ve been getting really, really good sleep lately, like I’ve been sleeping like eight to nine hours a night, and just like glorious sleep where you wake up feeling incredibly well rested. And you know I’ve doing a variety of things to accomplish that probably I would say that my top two sleep hacks of late – if you want to call them hacks:
number one is the CBD stuff that we’ve talked about on a few shows before just taking the CBD that’s…
Brock: I believe we could say that we’ve talked about it ad nauseam.
Ben: …mixed with ashwaganda and lemon balm and then blush, really good sex and there’s nothing like really good sex…
Brock: Hmmm. True. Very true.
Ben: …to sleep like a baby so.
Brock: The best naps I’ve ever had in my life right after a good afternoon delight.
Ben: Fat-firing and all cylinders when it comes to that, so but…
Brock: What’s firing on all cylinders?
Ben: Ah, just like sleep and sex, and all that stuff – CBD [chuckles]. Anyways though, some people don’t need much sleep and that was the first thing that I tweeted out about this week was that some people really truly can genetically get by on less sleep. This is really interesting because a lot of times we say, oh when you hear folks like whatever, Bill Clinton, or Oprah say that they get by in four hours of sleep. Some people will indeed scoff and say that simply not true and that everybody needs.
Brock: [coughing] I’m scoffing.
Ben: [laughs] Are you scoffing or you’re coughing up the hairball?
Brock: A little bit of both (laughs).
Ben: So there is this tiny mutation in a gene called DEC2 that they’ve discovered in people who are reported short-sleepers, and what they found is that when they breed mice to express this same mutation, the mice sleep less but they perform just as well as regular mice on physical tasks and on cognitive tasks. And the article that I linked to in the show notes goes into the life of some of these people who have DEC2 mutations and for example, one of the people that they profile in the article has this short-sleeping patterns that allow them to sleep – I believe they’re like a midnight to 4 AM-ish sleeper. And this one lady – you know, she’s running ultra marathons now just ‘cause she has so much time on her hands that she gets up at 3 a.m., and she runs, and she has a full time job, and she’s like an over-achiever, and she’s getting a great deal out of life based on the fact that she has this DEC2 mutation, and so some people actually do have this. I question and I would be interested to see if it actually makes you die earlier…
Ben: …because you know when you think about living life at a fast forward pace, right? There would be advantages and that you would accomplish a lot more than the time that you do have, but I would be interested to see like a long term study on this mice or perhaps they can do it in fruit flies or whatever because those are very easy to study when it comes to life span because they have such a high turnover. But you know, study this DEC2 mutation and see if there’s got to be a trade off somewhere, right?
Brock: And so they didn’t looked at the telomere length or anything like that?
Ben: They didn’t, and you know as I’ve heard many folks say before, there’s no such thing as a biological free pass, right? So…
Brock: Yeah. Or free lunch.
Ben: But it is interesting that some people really truly genetically can get by on less sleep so…
Brock: I can’t say that I’m jealous on that mutation.
Brock: But if I was an X-Men I’d would not want that to be my mutation.
Ben: I know, I know. I wanna shoot lasers out my eyes.
Ben: I don’t want to get by on less sleep.
Brock: Hey, I can sleep for two hours, check me out!
Ben: But here’s another interesting thing. A study that they did – this was published in the Journal Sleep. It was a study at the University of Washington School of Medicine in which they followed this women for a year, and they studied what type of exercise and movement protocols at which times of day resulted in the best impact on sleep quality. And what they found was that no matter when you exercise, the exercising at least 30 minutes a day causes improvements in the ability to fall asleep. Now that’s actually referred to if you wanna use the propeller hot term as your ‘sleep latency’. So when your sleep latency is high that means you’re taking a longer time to fall asleep, but if you exercise for at least a half-hour per day, your sleep latency decreases and interestingly, if you exercise but you don’t exercise for at least a half-hour, there is no effect on sleep latency. So, that was one thing that they found. Another thing that they found was that you can exercise in the evening but if your exercise session ends within three hours of the time that you are going to go to bed – it actually has a deleterious effect on sleep latency.
And you have trouble falling asleep – so for example, bed time is 10 p.m., and you finish exercising at any time after 7 p.m., it has a deleterious effect on sleep. So ultimately you know, for this, you know, I’ve recommended before that you do an afternoon/early evening exercise session if you’re going to do a hard exercise session because that’s the best time of the day to do it. Your core temperature peaks and your reaction time peaks, and your post-workout protein synthesis peaks, but you need to be careful of that if you are doing that and you want to enhance your sleep quality to the greatest extent possible, you finish up within three hours of bedtime. So it was very interesting. And another thing that they found was that stretching you know, like yoga instead of say, exercise actually have the same effect on sleep as exercise did, right? So returning back to that concept of exercising at least 30 minutes a day to enhance sleep, it doesn’t have to be say like high intensity interval training or weight training – stretching did just as well or had just as great an impact as exercise did on sleep quality. And so you could do instead of you know, 30 minutes of weight training, if it’s up your alley and it sounds like maybe it’s up your hippie neighbor’s alley, Brock – they can do 30 minutes of yoga and instead of 30 minutes of say, dead lifts and squats – so.
Brock: My interest is always peak to a new start of as by saying the study was based on following women around for a year.
Ben: Mmm. Yeah.
Brock: It just sounds so creepy.
Ben: Yeah, it is kinda creepy.
Brock: I was – I started dialing 911 when you started like that.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And granted you always have to look at the subjects, right? In this study, these were overweight women who started off at the beginning of the study sedentary, right? So maybe this wouldn’t apply as much to the population that whereabouts talk about professional athletes.
Ben: So this was a cool article. This appeared in The Guardian and it is about all of the extremely nerdy practices that they’re implementing with professional athletes to enhance their sleep. And it’s particularly focused on this gentlemen named Nick Littlehales who is a former golf pro, and then worked in the bedding industry, and now works with elite sporting organizations and teams to help them enhance sleep and recovery – sounds like it can be a fascinating podcast guest by the way, so I may need to work on that.
Ben: But a few of the very interesting things that the study gets into that peak my interest, first of all, one of the things that they hook these professional athletes up with are mattress toppers. So they travel with these what they call bedding toppers which are thin layers of foam that have actually been customized to the body shape and the requirements of each athletes – you can take them, you can put them on top of an existing hotel mattress or if that mattress isn’t suitable, the floor and the person who’s using that bedding topper can – like wraps around them, they can sleep on it without even feeling the floor or without even feeling the effects of say like a crappy mattress in a hotel room, and they travel with these. So this is something that’s used currently by Team Sky’s Tour de France cyclists – so they’re these sleep kits that include a bedding topper. A few other things that they do particularly with these professional cyclists is they put filters over the air-conditioning vents to remove allergens from the room. You know, both of these are theoretically things that anyone listening in could do, right? Like you could probably find a bedding topper and I believe that the company Essentia – the same company who I purchase my master bedroom mattress from, I think they make bedding toppers. I know they do customized mattresses from any professional athletes and I pretty sure they make toppers as well but they – you could theoretically also get a filter like a Hepa filter, or portable filter and put that near the air-conditioning vent in a hotel room – this is what they’re doing with this Tour de France cyclists. They’re also having them wear nasal strips while sleeping to open their airways and to help them avoid mouth breathing or waking up with like obstructive sleep apnea. So these are all – you know, this may sound extreme but they’ve actually found this to enhance their sleep and enhance their recovery. So we’ve got filters, we’ve got nasal strips, we’ve got bedding toppers as three things that they travel with.
Now you know, some of the study or some of the articles goes into things that we all know about when it comes to proper sleep hygiene, right? Like adjusting the room temperature to 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or you know, losing blackout curtains or black out masks to keep things completely dark using binaural beats or inner plugs to not ingest the sound while you’re sleeping. But then they also go into a few other interesting things, for example, they found that right handed athletes sleep best on the right side of the bed but on their left side. So right handed athletes…
Ben: …is the right side of the bed…
Brock: So facing towards…
Ben: …a little bit on the left side – you would face out towards the – no, if you’re sleeping in the left side and you’re on the right side of the bed…
Brock: Oh yeah, yeah.
Ben: you’d be facing out to the wall or the window or whatever, and vice-versa which I thought was interesting because I am a right handed athlete but I actually sleep on the left side of the bed on my right side and so I – you know, after reading this article I thought, “Huh, it’d be interesting to experiment with if it does influence my sleep quality to sleep on the right side of the bed on my left side.” So…
Brock: Will that be an issue for Jessa? Like do you guys have you side of the bed that you sleep on all the time?
Ben: Hmmm, we kinda do. We weren’t that picky like sometimes when we were travelling, it’s just like whoever happens to hop into whichever side of the bed – you know, that’s the side of the bed we get – so no, we’re not incredibly picky when it comes to that it wouldn’t be a big deal to kinda experiment with that. But the article is very interesting. I’d love to get this guy on the show to go on into some of these things. I personally have made a note to myself to look into specifically three things that peak my interest in the article in addition to which side of the bed that I sleep on and that would be: “Do they make some kind of like a filter that I can place over the vent of a hotel room when I’m traveling to assist with air quality?” Or like a portable Hepa filter?
Ben: And so I’m going to research that, and by the way, if you’re listening in and you’ve got leads or your own ideas, leave them in the comments section. I’m going to try-out this concept using a nasal strip during sleep to assist with breathing and to reduce any issues with obstructed sleep apnea and then the last thing is this idea of a custom bedding topper. I’m gonna be speaking with Essentia this week and researching a few other resources for potentially custom fit bedding toppers so, there we go – the things we do when we’re bored and we want better sleep.
Ben: So, Brock have been swinging around the staple head.
Brock: I – you’ve been swinging around the what? (laughs)
Ben: Staple head. I have this kettle bell, it’s the Zombie with who’s got like staples all over their head.
Brock: Ohhh, okay.
Ben: It’s the new Onnit Zombiebell and I posted – here again, I’ll reference to Instagram – I posted this to Instagram. Actually, I – my head got big, I got a lot of comments from people about how ripped they thought I looked in this photo.
Brock: Actually you looked like you’re made of plastic.
Ben: Yes, I’m…
Brock: So delighting.
Ben: My boys took this photo of me when I was swinging around this kettlebell downstairs, and it’s posted to Instagram but it’s a Zombiebell and Onnit, the company Onnit makes these – they make incredibly unique fitness equipment. And in this case they have these new Zombiebells and in the past I’ve posted photos of their Chimp Bells, right? Like their monkey-faced…
Brock: Yeah, those are awesome.
Ben: kettlebells – I’m a big fan of these type of kettlebells just ‘cause they’re like works of art, right? Like you leave them lying around and actually looked kinda cool. So, anyways, Onnit is a sponsor of today’s show and all that means is that Onnit puts a few nickels in the hat to go towards everything from our bandwidth cost to the time and cost associated with producing this show and they also hook you guys up with the discounts. So if you go to onnit.com/bengreenfield, that’s onnit.com/bengreenfield, you can get a 5% on any of the fitness gear like the kettlebells or the staple heads or the zombies (laughs) which by the way, my children when I first got the Zombiebell asked if we could put it outside because they weren’t sure if they wanted it inside ‘cause they thought they might have bad dreams.
Brock: Yeah, I don’t blame them. They’re only seven.
Ben: I explain to them it was just a kettlebell, and they wound up doing just fine. And you can also get a 10% discount on supplements from Onnit. People ask me what kind of supplements from Onnit that I use – I’m a big fan of their foods, right? Their functional foods like they have like the Himalayan sea salt and the walnut butter and the bison bars and a lot of things that are just tasty and good for you all the same time. So you get 10% discount on their supplements and their foods, 5% discount on dead kettlebells –
– so all that’s at onnit.com/bengreenfield and I’ll even over at the show notes, I’ll put this Instagram photo of me swinging around the Zombiebell, looking all plasticky.
Ben: So there is that. Another thing that I wanted to mention was that I have recorded the audio version of every single chapter of my new work of fiction, ‘The Forest’ and we are now up to chapter six in that book. You can…
Brock: [curse word]! I’m way behind!
Brock: I’m still on chapter four and now you’re at six!
Ben: You can listen to the audio version or you can read it for free over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/TheForest, and you can read it on Wattpad which is the world’s largest platform for finding really cool, free books: both works of fiction and non-fiction – it’s one of my favorite apps now on my phone because when I’m bored and I wanna read a chapter of a – I follow a few authors there and I simply can pull it open and read a chapter serially. Typically a chapter is 2,000 to 5,000 words, so you can get through pretty quickly and on my book, I’m actually recording each chapter and it was kinda interesting – my kids were listening to my book the other day as they sat on the couch beside me, so I was reading to them, well, actually not reading to them because they were just listening to the audio book version I was off doing my own thing. It was kind of surreal.
Ben: I felt like a celebrity, so check that out at bengreenfieldfitness.com/TheForest. And then for any of you in the Colorado area, just a quick shout out, I’ll be flying down into Denver this weekend and then coming in towards the Colorado Springs/Castlerock area and I will be there competing in the Train to Hunt Competition – the Train to Hunt National Championships. And then afterwards, I’ll be headed over to Fort Carson to speak there at the Army Base and so if you happen to be at Fort Carson Army Base or you happen to be out in the wilderness hunting, come say ‘hello’!
Get the inside edge from Ben Greenfield Fitness delivered straight to your phone. Just text the word ‘fitness’ to 411-247 and you’ll instantly get exclusive VIP discounts and insider tips that no one else will ever see except you. Do it now. Text the word ‘fitness’ to 411-247 and you’ll be in Ben’s VIP text club for FREE!
Listener Q & A:
Preston: Hey Ben. So I’m fresh out the shower and you’re the first one I wanna talk to. What’s the deal with Baby Powders specifically talc and cancer? I see stuff online, is it true? Can you get down to the bottom of it? Thanks.
Brock: There’s nothing quite like just talcing yourself up especially on a hot day…
Brock: when you know you’re gonna get sticky, it does…
Brock: it does keep you a little more fresh, but…
Ben: I like to get into the Happy Baby pose – the yoga Happy Baby pose and then I have…
Brock: especially in the middle of the YMCA change room [chuckles]…
Brock: Ben’s on his back and his legs in the air, talcing himself up.
Ben: I typically have an assistant or a loved one do the talcing.
Ben: And I just lay in the Happy Baby pose with a big toothy smile on my face. So…
Brock: … just neat. Now the American Academy of Pediatrics actually now recommends against using baby powders and a lot of pediatricians are saying that too and the issue is the talc. So, many manufacturers of Baby Powder have removed the talc, you can look at the ingredient label and it will either say talc or it will say hydrated magnesium silicate.
Brock: Ah, well!
Brock: That’s a great idea!
Ben: And the reason for that, is that – that’s a very fining ground particle made of stone and because of that, that talc can be contaminated with other substances and in its raw state, talc actually contains asbestos. So, industrial exposure to asbestos is of course linked to lung disease and lung cancer and probably isn’t the best thing for your baby to be accidentally inhaling or for you to be inhaling if you happen to be talcing yourself. So yes, I do not encourage the use of Baby Powder or the use of talcum powder – whatever you’d like to call it. And it has been shown actually that it doesn’t just increase the risk of lung cancer but particularly in women who are using talcum powder to their genitals or using one of these female deodorant sprays that has talc in it. It was found that they had 50 to 90% higher risk of ovarian cancer.
Ben: Yeah. And then of course, there’s a lung damage and the lung cancer issues, so I’d be very careful with it. Now one thing to be aware of is that even if you aren’t a Baby Powder fanatic, talc is actually a common ingredient that you’ll find in many cosmetics like eye shadow, deodorants as I mentioned, soaps, lipsticks especially in many women’s products.
So the Environmental Working Group EWG has a great website which they list many, many different products that contain talc including a number of body powders, we’ll link in the show notes to that environmental working group’s website and their analysis of many of these personal care products that may have talc in them but my recommendation will be of course to avoid those. So what can you use especially if…
Brock: That’s exactly what I was just going to ask.
Ben: Are we old baby? Or you wanna put a little talcum on your little genitals?
Ben: That didn’t sound like a baby as much as like a – there’s more like a cockney accent. Put a talcum on your genitals?
Brock: That was just creepy.
Brock: Don’t talk about my genitals with that voice, ever. [laughs]
Ben: Anyways, like I mentioned, you could go to an environmental working group’s website that we’ll link to in the show notes and you could just find it a good version that’s talc-free but it’s very, very easy using a base and simply essential oil to create your own little sore bottom soothing substance. So the best thing – and this is actually something good to have around for any type of Baby Powder/deodorant, get yourself some arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch – either of the two work quite well on their good ingredients to have around for personal care product creation, anything that involves powder. So arrowroot powder…
Brock: That’s what they use in like gold bond, right?
Ben: Yes, yes. And by the way, I am – my wife makes a powder, like a deodorant powder, excuse me, that uses arrowroot as a base. I’m a little bit lazy, I can’t tell you right now – I use the Hammer Nutrition Cool Feet powder and when I’m travelling and wearing like compression pants for example, I’ll pour a bunch of that in the crotchal regions or I’ll – like when I’m wearing compression socks which also tend to get a little bit stinky or if I’ve got like an international flight, I will just dump a bunch of that into the socks but that’s called the Cool Feet and that uses arrowroot as a base as well. And it’s got stuff like clove and all sorts of…
Brock: Yeah, sort of minty…
Ben: minty, smelling stuff…
Brock: menthol kind of thing.
Ben: Yeah. So anyways though, but if you wanna make your own homemade baby powder – incredibly easy – just get about a half cup to a full cup of arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch and then get the some essential oil. I like chamomile for this…
Brock: Do you say “get these”? – “Get these some essential oil, Mave.”
Ben: [laughs] That’s a very good prophet voice.
Ben: So you want about a few drops and you don’t need much if you’re using essential oil and now if you’re – you can make something very much like an essential oil, you can get like chamomile flowers and you can powder them in a blender or food processor but frankly, I just think the oil is easier. So you get a little essential oil and you’ll put about five to ten drops of that in with the half cup to full cup of arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch and that’s it. [laughs]
Ben: Just stir that together 5 minutes then…
Brock: That’s my kind of recipe.
Ben: Boom! Done! So there’s the only two ingredients that you need and now you too can not get lung cancer or ovarian cancer.
Brock: Or a stinky crotch.
Anonymous: Hi Ben Greenfield. Well basically, I think I’m really fat and I’m sort of insecure. I just wanna know how to get a slim body, a slim butt and a slim thighs and I would just love if you’d help me – I don’t like to do exercise or dieting, I just wanna eat normally. Like can you just give me a trick and like how to get my metabolism high? Been like to live in so much research and come to anything like I don’t like a real, real thigh gap or anything, I just want thin, just a thin line of a gap. I just want – that’s how I feel comfortable ‘cause a lot of my clothes I feel like I’m just too big. I’m not huge but I’m like a size 8 to 12, I’m not sure that’s around with my age, so please help me. Thank you.
Ben: It’s a beautiful accent.
Brock: It is, it is! Especially when she says, ‘thigh gap’.
Ben: You know, I try and avoid making too many comments on our listener callings when it comes to a voice tone or quality, accents and etc. just because the few times that I’ve done that, we’ve received some really nasty emails and comments about everything from racism to rudeness, to my complete lack of skill when it comes to replicating accents or even identifying the region of the world that those accents came from. So I’m pretty careful, so I’m just gonna say beautiful accent and leave it there. So anyways…
Brock: Good call.
Ben: Anyways though, yeah – the thing is, that you will see recommendations made often to women who wants to fill their clothes out or perhaps become more curvaceous or even say look good naked you know, whether you’re a man or a woman to lift weights. And the fact is that in some cases even though weight lifting can come in quite handy when it comes to a good workout to look good naked or to get good curves and good tone and good lean muscle, it’s not necessarily the only thing that you need to do. And I get this – I get questions kind of like this a lot and so I’m – the way that I wanna answer this is in a manner that will equip you if you’re listening to put together a workout that will allow you to look good naked, that will allow you to kinda have a fitness program that enhances longevity and enhances every aspect of particularly your cardiovascular and your muscular fitness because it’s not that hard. It’s not rocket science based off of the research that we have to put together a program that achieves all of these, right? Like the ultimate combination of fat loss, cardio-vascular fitness and muscular fitness because if you have those things in place you will look good naked. So get out your notepad, get out your pad, take that pen out of your ear and here is what you need to do…
Brock: [laughs] Out of your ear?
Ben: [laughs] Or your back.
Brock: Or from behind you?
Ben: Behind your – that’s right. [laughs] Why don’t just gem a pen in my ear be it gently kinda put it behind my ear. Okay, so the first thing that you wanna make sure that you do is you want to maintain cardiovascular fitness. This is not necessarily the look good naked part of things, this is more the longevity part of things and what I want to give you are the things that are going to give you the most of bang for your buck when it comes to doing things like maintaining cardiovascular fitness. So write this down: step number one…
Ben: …every once every week to once every two weeks, what you should do is five 4-minute high intensity efforts – five 4-minute high intensity efforts and those are separated by about 4 minutes of recovery, okay? And the study…
Brock: A good, good long recovery…
Ben: Yep, so this particularly hits what’s called your VO2 max – maximal oxygen consumption – many people do this type of training too much. I am not at this point talking about professional athletes, triathletes, marathoners, people who are working towards the specific goals such as you know, as a Spartan race sort of – we’re just talking about fitness for life, okay? Write this down, no, number one: once every week to once every two weeks – you wanna do approximately five 4-minute high intensity interval sessions in which you’re going at your maximum sustainable pace for those 4 minutes and you’re recovering for 4 minutes in between each, okay? So that’s…
Brock: So you should be gassed by the end of this.
Brock: It should be giving you a running; you should be like hands-on, knees, gasping for air kinda thing.
Ben: Ah, no.
Ben: No, because it is impossible to achieve that amount of exhaustion from a 4-minute effort. That amount of exhaustion will be something you’d achieve with more like a 30 or 60 second all out bout, so this 4-minute efforts are your maximum sustainable pace, okay? So generally…
Brock: It’s more of like a threshold kinda effort?
Ben: It’s very, very close to maximum heart rate but not to the point where you’re giving yourself a heart attack, okay?
Ben: [chuckles] So…
Brock: Good advice.
Ben: So basically, that step one and that’s going to address the VO2 max, okay? The VO2 max component of your cardio-vascular fitness. Step number two is that you’ll also want to increase what’s called your muscular endurance and your aerobic capacity. And when we look at studies that have looked into the best way to improve a combination of muscular endurance anaerobic capacity, you cannot beat the Tabata exercise protocol. And the Tabata exercise protocol is 4 minutes of 20 seconds very hard, 10 seconds very easy.
Now in ideal scenario, based off of the research out there in exercise science, you would want to be doing this three times per week. So three times per week, you choose the exercise – you could do burpees, you could do mountain climber, you could do jumping jacks, you could do squats, you could hop on a bicycle, elliptical trainer, you could use a pool – whatever, but a Tabata set in which you warm up, and it can be a 2-minute to a 10-minute warm-up, you know whatever time you have available and then 4 minutes: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off and then a cool down, that’s it. Okay, you don’t have to do that 4 minutes two times or three times or five times or ten times to make yourself feel good about yourself that you had a full hour of Tabata training, ultimately it’s just eight 20 seconds set, right? 4 minutes, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off but, you’re consistent doing that three times a week, okay?
Brock: Mmm. Cool.
Ben: So that is for your muscle endurance and your aerobic capacity – what’s called your…
Brock: Now should you mix that up like one day you did it on the bike, should the next time you do it…
Brock: – you should do burpees or swim…
Ben: Yep, ideally mixed modes, okay?
Ben: So now, you check out a few things… Yep, you’ve got your once every one to two weeks, you’re doing your five 4-minute high intensity rounds, and then three times a week, you’re doing a Tabata set, you choose the effort, okay? And then the next thing is you want to work on what is called your mitochondrial biogenesis. So while the Tabata sets are indeed going to help you with your muscle endurance and your aerobic capacity, for your mitochondrial biogenesis – the creation of new mitochondrial which are like the power plants of your cells, which are going to assist with everything from fat oxidation to longevity. The research that’s been shown to work the best when it comes to activating mitochondrial biogenesis are four 30-second all out sprints. The best mode to do this all out sprints in an ideal scenario would be a bicycle which is very, very easy especially on a stationary bicycle to do four 30-second all out sprints. These 30-second all out sprints should be separated by full recovery – we’re talking about four good minutes of rest at least, okay? So these are more like the all out like you’re just like exhausted hanging over the handle bars like you were kinda talking about, Brock – like that’s where these come in, okay? And similar to what I recommended for you to do when it comes to your VO2 max, right? Five 4-minute efforts followed by 4-minute recovery periods, once every one to two weeks – same thing with these all out 30-second sprints, okay? You only need four of them and you can do this once every week to once every two weeks, think about this like taking a fire hose to your arteries, okay? And again, it’s four full recovery after these, and remember that when we talk about an exercise program that allows you to like you know, look good naked for life and maintain longevity, it’s suppose to be doable, right?
So I could tell you to do four 30-seconds sprint four times a week but your [chuckles] I can’t guarantee you’re gonna do that ‘till you’re 80, right? But doing four 30-seconds sprints followed by full recovery once every one to two weeks, you could wrap your head around doing that ‘till your 80, right? Like it’s not that big of a deal – you could do it running, it’s just that you know, there’s this exercise science protocol called the Wingate test – it’s a horribly difficult test but it’s an all out 30-second test of your power production. Try doing four of those with full recovery and you’ll understand why it really only takes once every one to two weeks to actually get a response by doing this, okay? So that’s kinda like step number three or part number three you’re going to include in your protocol are these 30-seconds sprints. Okay, but we are not done yet – there are two other things that I’d recommend that you include as part of your protocol.
Brock: The next one is 5 hours worth of very slow run…
Brock: every second day.
Ben: No, the next one is you wanna control your blood sugar, particularly your postprandial insulin levels. And there is a great deal of evidence out there that movement in either a.) a fasted state in the morning at a low level intensity or b.) after dinner or if you’d like, if you had the time, both is very, very effective when it comes to blood sugar control and insulin insensitivity. So the next thing that you wanna do is every single day, make it a goal to either a.) walk or swim or move or do yoga or do something for 15 to 20 minutes in the morning, and or 15 to 20 minutes after dinner and this could literally be you walking the dog for 15 minutes in the morning and for 15 minutes after dinner.
I know this sounds stupid and silly, etc., but these are the little things that if you put them all together are going to give you a really, really good program for life, okay? So, 15 to 20 minutes in the morning and or 15 to 20 minutes in the evening, okay? And this is to control postprandial blood glucose, and to just control your or to improve your insulin sensitivity. And if you do this in the morning in fasted state is better, okay?
Ben: So, makes sense? And then the last part, the glaring part that everyone’s gonna be you know, jumping through the airwaves pointing out is that we haven’t talked much about muscular strength right about the lifting heavy stuff component. Here is what I think is the ultimate scenario when it comes to doability and longevity and the ability to stay consistent with the program – once per week do a body weight exercise program. I am actually a big fan of this whole like 7-minute workout that they reported on like the New York Times which was just basically 30-seconds on, 10-seconds off of in this case they did jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, crunches, step-ups, squats, steeps, planks, running in place, lunges, push-ups with rotation and inside planks – that was it.
Ben: That was it. And…
Brock: It was like fifty things. [chuckles]
Ben: You could do that, it’s 12 movements and you could just – you know, well we can – we’ll link in the show notes to the 7-minute workout protocol that this is based on and it actually is a study that they did on this. They later reported on it in the New York Times but it’s just a very, very basic 7-minute body weight exercise routine, okay? That you could technically do you know, more than one time through, okay? I wouldn’t do it more than three times through if you’re really just focused on sticking with things, you know, for life. But basically it’s a high intensity body weight circuit training: 30-seconds on, 10-seconds off – so that’s once per week and on the other day of the week, you’re doing heavy lifting and if I could choose one style of heavy lifting – okay, at the risk of having all the U.S.A. weight lifting coaches and CrossFitters and power lifters jumping down my throat here, it would be very basic 12 to 15-minute super slow strength protocol outlined in Doug McGuff’s book ‘Body by Science’, okay?
Brock: Mmm. Yeah.
Ben: That’s it. That’s it and I had an interview with Doug McGuff and I can link to it in the show notes that goes into why I recommend that – the science behind that protocol when it comes to increasing for a blood pressure, lowering central blood pressure, increasing strength, increasing joint help all at the same time, okay? So, once you put all these together – okay, 5 by 4-minute efforts with 4-minute recoveries, three Tabata sets per week, the four all out 30-second bouts of exercise once every one to two weeks, the walking for 15 to 20 minutes or light low of movement 15 to 20 minutes morning, 15 to 20 minutes after dinner and then one body weight protocol and one like super slow strength protocol per week.
If you will walk up to me right now and say, “Ben, you wanna live ‘till you’re 120 years old, you want an exercise program that you can wrap your head around that will make you look good naked, make you be able to handle plenty of sports that you jump into like tennis or golf or whatever, and allow you to just kinda stick with for life, that is exactly what I would do. I would drop all the triathlon training, and the Spartan training, and everything else ‘cause I’ve never argue that’s good for you or good for longevity, or even necessarily makes you look good naked more than the program I’ve just outlined. That’s more like notch in the belt, climb your own personal Mount Everest type of stuff. And I would simply do the protocol that I’ve just outlined for you. So, there you go. I hope you took out your flashcard and pull the pen off from your ear, and wrote that down, and that is what I, would do. I can guarantee, if you’re to do that program, your thighs will not touch but you’ll still look pretty good. So, there you go.
Chad: Hey Ben, this is Chad from Raleigh, North Carolina. I recently went to the dentist and they’re saying that I have an abscess on a tooth and need a root canal. I’ve done some research and there’s definitely some mix research out there in terms of the long term deleterious effects of root canals. Just wanna see what your opinion is and if there’s a way to naturally reverse early stages of an abscess. Thank you.
Ben: Oh, the root canal – have you ever had a root canal, Brock?
Brock: Thank goodness, no.
Ben: Uhmm, neither have I. I’ve actually, I’ve never had a cavity or root canal, or a filling, I've actually been to the dentist, I think, maybe, eight times in my entire life.
I never had braces, just didn’t merely doing that stuff. Now granted I also only have three teeth and… [chuckles]
Brock: There's that. [chuckles] Old jumper.
Ben: Play the banjo quite well, but no ultimately, the reason that I'm glad for that is because of the issue with root canals that, you know, and… gosh when we did our flouride episode I think we had like 18 different members of the American Dental Association leaving very concerned comments on that particular post when we recommended that you actually defloridate your water, and talk about all the issues with flouride, but we make it the same thing when we talk about root canals. We'll see. So…
Brock: I hope so.
Ben: Here's the deal. What I'm gonna tell you is why you don't want a root canal, what you can do instead, and how to ensure that you don't really need root canals in the first place, also how to keep your teeth more white.
Brock: [curse word] So…
Ben: So there you go.
Brock: So, is this gonna be like an hour?
Ben: No, no. I'll keep it quick. I will, I will not get in to nitty-gritty details but I will give you the basics. So, root canals are basically – a root canalled teeth are basically dead teeth that if you allow them to stay dead become little incubators for anaerobic bacteria and this anaerobic bacteria can make its way into the bloodstream and cause a lot of serious medical conditions later on. So, I will talk about why that is the issue, but the fact is the American Dental Association claims root canals are safe but they have zero published at it or actual research to substantial that claim, and I would argue that root canals are not safe and we can trace this back to initial research done by Doctor Weston A. Price of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Hi Weston! I don't know.
Brock: [chuckles] His…
Ben: I don’t think so…
Brock: I think he’s been dead for quite a while. Has he?
Ben: I don’t think he’s alive. [whispering]
Ben: Uhm… Rest in peace.
Brock: He might still be listening though.
Ben: Yeah. He was a dentist.
Brock: Depending on your beliefs.
Ben: Do they have podcasting in heaven? Uhm, or if you're a vegan talking about Dr. Weston A. Price, hell. Anyways, Dr. Price…
Ben: …was a – he was a dentist and a researcher, and he traveled the world to study teeth and bones and diets of native populations who were living without modern food. And it was around nineteen hundred that he had been treating persistent root canal infections, and he kind of got this idea that root canal teeth seem to be causing some issues and seem to always remain infected in spite of treatments. And so, one that he actually extracted a root canal from a woman and then implanted it under the skin of a rabbit. I have no clue why he chose to do this to poor little bunny wabbit, but the rabbit developed the same crippling arthritis as the woman who had the root canal had and died from the infection 10 days later. Meanwhile the woman whom he removed the toxic tooth from recovered from her arthritis and was able to walk without the assistance of a cane after that. And so…
Brock: So the cure is to put your tooth into a rabbit.
Ben: That's right. Unless every dentist on the face of the planet begin snickering about this and equals one study. The fact is that uhm… Dr. Price then went on to show that many chronic degenerative diseases originate from root filled teeth, and he did quite a bit of research on this. He identified 16 different bacterial agents found in root filled teeth that cause diseases of the joints, and the brain, and the nervous system. And he – he's got two different books out that detail this research between dental pathology and chronic illness. And uhm, you can actually find many of these books, including one that highlights all these research called the Root Canal Cover Up. The Root Canal Cover Up. I will be sure that I link to that book in the show note for you – in the show notes for you if you like – over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/326, but it’s a very good synopsis of this research that Dr. Price did.
So the idea here is that your teeth are, as many of us know, the hardest substances in our body. If you find like a – whatever, a dear skeleton out in the wilderness, it's always, you know, even if the whole thing is falling apart, those teeth are still in tacked. Now in the middle of each tooth is what's called the pulp chamber, that's that soft living inner structure that has of a blood vessels and nerves in it, and surrounding that pulp chamber is dentin and dentin is just a bunch of living cells that secrete a hard mineral substance, and then you’ve got the outer most layer which is the white enamel that incases the dentin. Now, this roots actually go down into your jaw bone and they’re held in place by what’s called the peridontal ligament and there are literally miles, and miles of excessory canals and blood vessels and very small capillaries that basically feed into this peridontal ligament area.
So, in every single tooth has this maze that extends about three miles for each of your teeth, and there are microscopic organisms and bacteria that regularly move in and around this different tubules and vessels. So when you get a root canal, you hollow up the tooth and then you fill that hollow chamber with a substance that cuts off the tooth from its blood supply. So, you cut off the tooth from its blood supply but all this tiny tubules three miles per tooth remains. And any bacteria in those tubules basically, they're now cut off from their food supply but they remain in these tunnels and remain very, very safe from any type of antibiotic or natural antibiotic or your body's own immune defenses and when that happens they can become relatively violent anaerobic bacteria that produce a lot of toxins, and these toxins can basically spread throughout your body and cause a lot of – of disease issues, you know, inside that roots. That's basically how many these issues happen and what Dr. Price was able to identify in root canal teeth was a link with nearly every chronic degenerative disease we know about, heart disease, and kidney disease, and arthritis and joint rheumatic diseases, and like ALS and MS and autoimmune diseases like lupus and even connections with breast cancer and root canals and a big, big part of this are these – these isolated anaerobic toxic bacteria just hanging around and miles of tubules completely cut off from being able to be metabolized or being able to have your body’s own natural immune system essentially have access to these bacteria. So uhm, they've actually identified 42 different species of anaerobic bacteria in 43 different root canals samples. They actually have this foundation called the Toxic Element Research Foundation that uses DNA analysis to examine root canal teeth. And they've found some very, very non-benign, non-ordinary melt bugs hanging around in this tubules underneath root canal teeth. So, basically, you're leaving a dead body part in your body that's causing this bacteria to collect around the dead tissue and produce toxins as they metabolize. So…
Ben: So you are probably getting the idea that root canal is not the best thing t0 have hanging around with your mouth, or to get. Now if you do have a tooth removed, and we’ve talked about this on previous podcast so you’ll – and you could go listen to that podcast if you like to be, 'cause I get in to alternatives to root canals and much more detail, but the three options really are: partial denture, which is a removable denture. It’s often just called a partial and that's the simplest and least expensive option. And there's a bridge which is a more permanent fixture that resembles a real tooth but it’s a little bit more involve and a little bit more expensive for a dentist to build for you. And then there's an implant and that's a permanent artificial tooth, usually it’s titanium, usually it’s implanted in your gums of the jaw, there can be some reactions to the metals you use if you tend to be sensitive to them, zirconium is probably the implant material used in implant that shows promise for the fewest complications when it comes to artificial replacements. But just pulling the tooth and inserting, like an artificial replacement is not everything that you need to do, you have to actually remove that peridontal ligament that I talked about to reduce the risk of developing an infection from bacterial infected tissues that can be left behind. So, what I would recommend that you do – is I’ll put a link in the show notes to this book “Root Canal Cover Up”, if you wanna learn more about this and dig into the research for yourself.
I would also recommend that you visit the website toxicteeth.org. The reason I recommend you to visit that website is it has a good list of biological dentist also known as holistic dentist that could be in your area. And you know, my dentist or the dentist that I've been to once, since I went to Spokane is a holistic dentist and a biological dentist, who I found through this site and it's – it will ensure or vouch for you being able for you to get a dentist who is not necessarily can do root canal, and who has access to a lot of other more holistic methods. Last couple of things I wanted to mention though when it comes to teeth absences and natural ways to care for your teeth and root canal. Uhm, there was a very, very interesting article written by Denise Minger, Denise Minger, we’ve mentioned a few times before on the show and uhm, Denise had two interesting points in this article that she made about her teeth.
First of all, she claims that fermented foods wrecked her teeth, which is really interesting 'cause we talked all about like sauerkraut, and kefir, and yogurt, and all these things that are really, really good when it comes to fermented foods. But the fact is that fermented foods can be acidic and if you do have problems with your tooth enamel or you're trying to kind of like wean yourself off a high sugar diet or you’re getting a lot of tooth pain issues with your teeth, you may actually wanna be careful with fermented foods. And that's one of the things that she actually began limiting, after she'd been eating a lot of them, and she found that her teeth began to grow more white when she was careful with the volume of her fermented food consumption. So that's number one. And then number two, was really going out of her way, and I'll link to this article that she wrote. It actually appeared on Mark’s Daily Apple, it’s called Nutritional Curious for Damaged Teeth.
The other thing that she did where she went out of her way, and this probably isn’t any news to most of our listeners to ensure that she was getting plenty of kinda like the Holy Trinity for all things teeth, and that’s vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 – all three of them, which you can pretty easily find in supplement form. For example the multivitamin that I take everyday, the Thorne Multi that has vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin K2 in it. All in there, they’re properly balanced amounts, so I'm getting each absorbed in proper ratios. If you wanted to go for the more natural a.k.a. less biohack route, you could do something like you know, include plenty of nato, and liver, and egg yolks for your vitamin k2. You could include, you know, of course plenty of sunshine and other fat soluble vitamin sources for your vitamin D. And then include plenty of carotene-rich food, try it like orange and yellow type of vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams, and things of that nature for your vitamin A. You know, and – or you could do both for like, you could get good food sources in – include a multivitamin, but I thought that was interesting. Limit fermented foods more as it not necessarily better and then make sure you go out of your way to get vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. And I'll link to that article as well in the show notes.
Brock: Nice! Now the next question, I ah -it actually comes from me. I'm being super sneaky and sneaking in my own taking advantage of my position here at the podcast to get my own question answered.
Ben: Do you wanna use Naxa?
Brock: I think I put some kinda crazy effect to my voice. It sounds like I'm using some crappy microphone instead of my $300 set up here.
Ben: No, that's okay. We get our own listeners doing that enough of the time to I think it's fine for you to just ask your question. [chuckles]
Brock: Hey, Ben and Brock! This is Brockerly from Toronto Interior.
Ben: [Chuckles] You're calling in from my styrofoam cup and my wire. Uhh yeah, you know, the fact is sometimes I forget. And by the way, we'll post this to our facebook page but our audio question well is beginning to get a little bit dry. If you happen to be listening in and you have a good question to ask, go ahead and ask it but, for Pete's sake at least don't use your cell phone on the subway when you ask your question. We've got a handy dandy speak pipe app on the bengreenfieldfitness.com website. You can go straight to bengreenfieldfitness.com and it appears right there. click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page and you can leave your question using a real old fashion phone, but either way now pay attention to audio call and we guarantee that the better your audio call quality the more likely it is that your question will get answered.
Brock: We’ve definitely throw notes some probably pretty good questions just because I was like “What are you saying? I can't hear you over the children’s screaming in the background”.
Ben: Right. Exactly, exactly. The rabbit is dying from their abscess teeth implants… [Chuckles] in the background screaming. Uhh, if you ever heard a rabbit scream, it's actually quite disturbing.
Brock: Yeah, it's terrifying.
Ben: Yes, yes. My wife will get your question in a moment just to complete a rabbit hole.
Brock: He, he.
Ben: My – there's a bunny that's been eating ferociously. My wife’s garden – it’s tunneled in underneath the dear fencing. And she has been on me to somehow end this rabbit, and I've – I go out early in the morning in the porch and I do yoga like very relaxing, causifistic, non-animal-killing yoga. And a couple of times, I've seen him out there and I thought about fetching my bow, and attempting to kill said rabbit but I haven't yet found it in my heart. For some reasons it just feels wrong that early in the morning to be out doing my yoga on the porch, and to somehow like pick out a bow and kill a tiny rabbit, but what I was thinking was maybe now I can implant a tooth in it. And just let it die slowly of arthritis.
So perhaps that…
Brock: Well I guess the important question is, is it big enough that you could eat it?
Ben: I could… I could eat it. I could make rabbits to out of it.
Brock: It's really – that's a defining moment there.
Ben: Yes! Yes.
Brock: ‘Cause you don't just kill it because it's an inconvenience, but if you're be able to have a nice dinner or two or three.
Ben: Yes, and put inner muffs on your children if they love rabbits, but the only weapon I have that would actually allow me to end the rabbit without actually blowing it to its middle range, is my bow because I have a 12 and a 16 cage shot gun, a nine millimeter clock, and also very large hunting rifle, and any…
Brock: [Chuckles] Overkill.
Ben: …any of those would make the rabbit…
Brock: Go walk.
Ben: They would be just like chunks…
Brock: With armor piercing rounds.
Ben: There'd be chunks of hair left on the kale on our garden, and I don't think that be nice. But I think a bow could be appropriate once I find it in my heart to do that. For some reason I can go up early in the morning and hunt the white tail dear but killing a little rabbit in the garden is just something I – a hard time getting at. So anyways though, a rabbit hole. Go ahead Brock, what's your question?
Brock: Okay, so I actually got a few comments late. I see the last week of the week before, we were – you were making fun of me because we had to record early because I was off to see the physiotherapist about my neck, and I'm still having trouble. I actually went to the physiotherapist again this morning and had some more acupunctures, some more ART, and I’ve got some kinesio tape running down the back of my neck right now, and it's coming along but you know, I let it go for way too long. It was like May last year, when – I’d remember I take three weeks off and I went to – after I went to Germany, Croatia, and Czech Republic, and just tutored around for a few weeks and you were fend for yourself on the podcast for a while there.
Ben: Yeah. I do remember that. It was very – I was very pissed that you’re actually off having fun and not working.
Ben: I kind of expect you to be at my back and call at all time when it comes to this podcast.
Brock: But anyways, on the flight, the very first flight that I took straight to Berlin, I fell asleep in a strange position, put a crack in my neck and my – oh crap! that sucks, but it never really went away, and now it’s like a year and some months later and I finally have decided to do something about it ‘cause it got to the point where I was having trouble riding my road bike ‘cause like getting into that position, I'm being able to shoulder check was almost impossible, so I'm relegated to riding in my commuter bike everywhere and waking up in the middle of the night with pain and stuff like that. So, what I'm looking for – I worry about all the little tiny muscles and ligaments and stuff in my neck, so I'm really reluctant to get in there with like a foam roller or tennis ball, or a golf ball or something like that to try to loosen up any adhesions or any tightness and stuff. So, I – guess what I've been looking for is like, can I – what can I do to strengthen my neck so this doesn't happen again and what else – what can I do to sort of loosen it up and get in there to break out some of those adhesions that I'm sure are in there.
Ben: Your neck doesn't have that main important thing is going through it. (Chuckles)
Brock: [Chuckles] Oh, so not-the-most-important blood supply.
Ben: It's essentially as kind of like the PVC pipe with the little two where the spinal cord goes through and everything else that you can just reem on. No, it is a good point. You can definitely do damage everything from your vocal chords to some pretty important nerve flexes that are around and then of course the nerves that branch off from those that pass up through your neck. If you pull up Grey’s Anatomy for example, you’ll see that the neck because it must feed a relatively important organ. Yes, the Grey’s Anatomy book, now the T. V. show for any of you who are born after 1990. The idea is that the neck does have a lot of really kinda small fragile vessels going through it, and it also has, you know, I used to dissect cadaver back in the anatomy class at University of Idaho and the neck was always one of the more difficult once to tackle in terms of neck muscle separation because it’s got all sorts of muscles in it that are responsible for a variety of movements. The very complex joint, you know, because it's involve in flexion, in extension, in rotation and then also in lateral flexion, right? like side-to-side movements. So we've got sagittal plane, we've got a frontal plane, we've got you know, pretty much you name it on the X Y Z axis for the neck when… you know, even if you look at it at another complex joint you know, somewhat complex joint like the knee for example, right? Like the knee we've got a flexion extension, we've got a slight amount of rotation, but not too much, and then we've got very little movements basically if you've imagine the knee, you know, you've got very little movement of the actual patella in knee joint kind of forward and back, it's more like up and down, and a little bit side to side.
The shoulder joint is probably a more appropriately similar to the neck, right, like we can rotate the shoulder joint in many different directions, in up and down, side to side, back forward flexion extension rotation, right. So uhm, so yes, the neck is a complex joint and let's start with rather than how to strengthen the neck, how to prepare the neck to be strengthened. This is always something I'm cognizant of, before and even when I wake up in the morning and I do my morning stretching and you know, calisthenics routine. One of the first things that I do is I engage in rotation and mobility before I actually put a joint under stress. It’s this concept that you never wanna you know, pull on a rope that has a knot on it 'cause you just make the knot tighter. So for example, I'll do inversion poses, or I'll hang from an inversion table or do like pull ups in the morning which put my back under traction but before I do any of that, I foam roll my back and then I do the rotation exercise for my back on the ground that kinds pops it and snaps it so that everything is kind of aligned before I move on into strengthening and traction. And so, that's one of the first things that you wanna focus on when it comes to the neck. Let's assume that all of your cervical vertebrae are aligned properly and that your jaw is aligned properly. And the reason we’re going to assume that is because that's not something you can do on your own. Okay, I'm gonna make the assumption that you've been to a good sports chiropractic doc who's using manual manipulation, not the little tiny like trigger gun that goes (sounds) and doesn’t feel that it does anything like actually putting their hands on you and manipulating your tissues and ensuring that the cervical vertebrae is in alignment and ensuring that the neck is in alignment, okay, that's something that you actually need to have professionally done before moving in to more of like the at home stuff that I’m about to talk about.
So, the next thing that you wanna focus on is, first of all mobility for the neck. There's a few different ways to do this. You have what's called your first rib, and your first rib is kinda up around those neck muscles. It feels like a neck muscle than a first rib, but basically a couple of ways that you could work that, and Kelly Starett over on his mobility wod website has some of these ideas and also presents them in his book “Becoming a Supple Leopard”. But number one: this is one way that works really well, if you have a barbell or squat racket home, as you can tape a lacrosse ball to a barbell. And once you've got the lacrosse ball, tapes to a barbell, you can just basically get underneath that barbell and use that lacrosse ball to work its way all up and down, those muscles coming off of your neck and all up and down that first rib area.
You can also, if you don't have an actual rack to place a barbell on, to do the deep tissue that way, is you can lay on the ground and you can take a broomstick or a barbell or something kind of other stick, and you basically lay down on your back and you use that stick that is up against the wall for leverage to dig in to all those tissues around that first rib area and all up around your neck. So that's another way to kinda hit your neck 'cause it can be hard to connect your neck properly and typically a stick or lacrosse ball tape to a barbell are really good way just to do it. If you really want to get a huge amount of turk on those neck muscles and a big amount of mobility that the last thing that you can do, and this is – it’s painful but it will work. What you can do is you can get a lacroses ball, and you can place it kind of like right up next to your neck on either side of your head, you just pick a side. You work one side, then you work the other side. And then you want something that you can hang from with your arms over head like a pull up bar and what you do is you place a strap. It doesn't have to be a rubber elastic strap, and a rubber and elastic strap actually doesn't work as well just like a type of strap that you'd use for say, like strapping something to the back of the pick-up truck or like one of these ratcher straps, and you put a lacrosse ball underneath that strap and then one end of the strap is holding another lacrosse ball and is looped around your body and then the other hand is attached to a kettle bell or some kind of a weight on the ground, and then you just hang from the bar, arms over head and kind of like rotate side to side as your hanging and there’s a great video of this over on the mobility wod website at all. It's called the overhead position, first rib mobilization. A painful but very, very effective mobilization for the neck, and so that's one that you could…
Brock: Where is the pain coming in?
Ben: Where is the pain coming in? The pain is coming in because you are hanging and putting a great deal, you know, it's kind of – it would be like foam rolling with someone sitting – like foam rolling your I.T. band with someone like sitting on your butt, right?
It's just like – is that combination of traction and rolling all at once. So watch the video to see what I mean. But basically you're…
Brock: Yeah, yeah. I'm having trouble picturing it to be honest.
Ben: Yeah, it's a little bit tricky to picture, but I know, I mean you get in to seconds if you saw the video. So I'll link to it in the show notes. But basically mobility using a lacrosse ball tape to barbell or a stick like, kind of like coming out of the wall that you can kinda roll against, can be really, really effective. And you know, that would be assuming you don’t have somebody to stand there and massage your shoulders and kind of work them. I like to put a little bit of magnesium lotion or magnesium oil on the neck muscles, and any work kinda like upper back-ish part mobility because it helps to relax those muscles that tend to stay very tense. And so your mobility is kind of be more effective. Once you've got your mobility down, and you – you’ve kinda ensured that you actually have gotten rid of any soft tissue adhesions in the area, the next thing that you can work on is traction. There's a couple different ways that you can do traction which is going to create more space and alleviate pressure by improving the blood supply to the neck muscles and the tendons and the ligaments around that affected area.
One way that you can actually have a friend, put like a – hold on to like a hand towel that's placed underneath the bone in the back of your head, and you lie on your back and your friend lies behind you, and they just kind of pull on your neck using that towel. The other option is to – when I have one of these hanging in my home, they're very easy to find just these neck traction devices that you hang from an area in your home. It's very important that you do your mobility that you ensure that you cervical alignment is good, but once that's done, you can use this traction on your head. And version table, kinda sort of work 'cause you'll use the weight of your head to provide traction but it's even better to use one of these neck traction devices. So I'll link to what I’m talking about in the show notes but mine is just the cheaper one off of Amazon and it works! I can literally hang by my head. I'm just very careful that I don't – you don’t wanna hang from your head when you have a cervical vertebrae out of place because in that it just put pressure on any tendons or ligaments or blood vessels that happen to be pinched by a vertebrae that’s out of place. So, just wanna be careful when you're doing that kind of traction but that’s the next thing – is traction. And then before I go into a few strength exercises, there's also an acupuncture on an acupressure point that you can use for a stiff neck that will help the neck to relax and the point is very, very simple to find. If you hold out your hand, and you look at the area between your index finger and your middle finger, and you look at those two knuckles between your index finger and your middle finger…
Brock: Am I looking at the back of the front of my hand?
Ben: Oh, the back of your hand, and then you just go a little bit down just before you get to the webbing between the index finger and the middle finger, and so you’ve got your index finger and your middle finger kinda apart you know, letter V and then you can see the webbing and you see the two knuckles right in between that webbing and the two knuckles is an acupressure point that you can use you index finger to put pressure against in a way that you can vest to this is you use your thumb on your opposite hand and kind of like stabilize and hold that hand still and you use that index finger to put pressure right down into that area. And when you stimulate that acupressure point by making very small circles with that pressing finger, while simultaneously rotating your head side to side. It is kinda like patting your tummy and rubbing your head or rubbing your tummy and patting your head, what you get is an improvement in range of motion in the neck and it’s a Chinese acupressure points specifically for the neck and that's another area that you can work on to improve mobility or to decrease pain in the neck is that acupressure point. So, quick review, you wanna do mobility and deep tissue work particularly for all those muscles coming off you neck and what is called your first rib, and I really, really like the book “Becoming a Supple Leopard” for its entire chapter on the neck. Number two: you wanna do traction, either by hanging or by having a friend like kinda pull your head with a little bit of towel, and then last thing we wanna do is we want to of course ensure that we fortify and strengthen the neck so that these issues are less likely to occur later on. And the neck can be difficult to strengthen. They have sets some machines, what's called the four way neck machine, as like you do neck flection and extension, and lateral side to side flexion. Those are okay, but they can be tough to hunt down in many gyms and…
Brock: I've never seen one.
Ben: Kinda hard to use. Yeah, they're not that common – you don’t see a lot of them, but you can do your own manual resisted towel exercises and this is really the easiest way to do, I mean, you sit in a chair or you stand and you simply use a towel and you hold on to a towel, and you do for example ten neck forward flexion using the towel for resistance by placing to towel against the front of your forehead and then you place the towel against the back of your head, and you do ten resisted extension exercises and then you place the towel on one side of your head and do ten resisted flexion to the right side, and then place the towel on the left side of your head and do ten resisted flexion on the left side, and just use your own muscles for resistance with the benefit of being that you can arm workout too when you do this.
So, the go old school towel exercise is actually quite useful for strengthening in the neck. So, that's one of the top ways to do it. Another way to do it is you can take an exercise band you can literally wrap the exercise band around your head and wrap the other side of the exercise band around a pole or any other removable object, and rather using a towel, rather than fatiguing your arms, you can simply use the exercise band, and the nice part about that is when you use the exercise band, you get the e-centric component, right, you get the exercise band kind of pulling you back and the only annoying part is that it kinda pulls off the hair a little bit. You can just shave your head Brock. That would be a good luck.
Brock: Yeah! That is well.
Ben: Yeah, should an exercise video like a Jane Fonda-esque exercise video of you bald doing exercise bend head neck rotation exercises. Yeah. So, that’s another way that you can strengthen your neck, is just with that exercise bend, and you can also do isometric type of strengthening for your neck and – shocker, I know a lot of people don't really like this idea but it does work and that would be doing things like the yoga elbow supported head stand, right, where you're getting on to your head and literally kind of using your arms to support yourself in a head stand and what I like to do when I'm in head stand, because I’ll typically a few times a week just get into a head stand for about five minutes or so just to increase cardio vascular blood flow to the head but also to strengthen my neck. I will do a leg mobility exercises while on ahead stand meaning I'll move my legs for like, I'm walking upside down like Frankenstein walking with straight legs to stretch the hip flexors and the hamstrings or let my legs fall apart to the side to stretch the adaptors and come back up together, so you can get a little bit of the core exercise but just basically getting into a head stand and doing exercises with your legs while you're in a head stand is a great way to kinda kill three birds with one stone. You get leg mobility, and you strengthen your neck, and you also improve blood flow to your head. So, those are a few ways that you can do it as well.
Very, very last thing, and I swear by this for you know, occasionally doing just to relax the neck would be just a basic epson salt or magnesium bath if you don't have magnesium oil or magnesium lotion that you can regularly apply to your neck, or if you wanna use that as an additional relaxation protocol for the neck prior to mobility or prior to traction. There's something about having the entire body relaxed. Like you know, that you would get after doing a salt bath that allows the neck to get even greater mobility so…
Brock: I was reminded by some lines. Would you apply ice to the neck?
Ben: No, no, I wouldn’t. Not unless it’s an acute strain or sprain that wouldn't be a lot of benefit to applying ice. So, heat for back and neck works much, much better than ice because your goal is to improve blood flow and improve mobility. Again, less than acute injury rather than a sprain or strain, heat is going to serve you better than cold. So now, don't go plunging your head into an ice cold bath anytime soon. At least not, if your goal is to heal and repair your neck. If your goal is to wake up and you don't have access to a shot of espresso, then that would be viable strategy. So, Brock, next week, if you’re not around, I’m going to assume that you either broke your neck, or had some kind of like a blood vessel stricture or perhaps like a collapse of vessel or nerve to your head while doing any of the exercises that I just mentioned, or perhaps you just got stuck hanging from a barbell with a lacrosse ball and an exercise band wrapped around your body and you're just kind of like hanging in your basement somewhere. So, if it's me solo next week folks, that's what happened to Brock.
Brock: If I die trying any of these things, you can bet I will hunt you.
Ben: Insert disclaimer here.
“Ben is not a doctor and the content provided on this podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical or health care advice.”
Okay, so we always of course towards the end of our show, we read a review from iTunes. Now one of the best things you can do, if you get anything out of the show and you wanna spread the good karma around, well, golly gosh what are you waiting for? Go leave us a review on iTunes and preferably five stars, four perhaps, if you're feeling less than generous. But we have a review left by JrMidge and because we're reading JrMidge’s review on the show, JrMidge, if you hear this you can email [email protected], that’s [email protected] and we will send you a gift pack just because you are kind enough to leave a review on iTunes. Be sure when you email [email protected] to let us know of your t-shirt size. So, that being said, Brock what do you think? You wanna take this one away?
Brock: That – do you wanna read the title? It’s a good title.
Ben: The title is “Entertaining and Informative Health and Fitness Information that You Just Can't Find Anywhere Else”. Oh, I like that!
Brock: Oh really! That's what the podcast should just be called from now on.
Ben: We should hire JrMidge to write headlines for us.
Brock: Forget about bengreenfieldfitness podcast. It's the entertaining and informative health and fitness information that you just can't find anywhere else podcast.
Ben: Uhm, I like it!
Brock: Yeah. All right, it goes like this. “I have been listening to the Get Fit Guy’s quick and dirty tips for a little while now, and finally decided to check out Ben's other podcast and boy am I glad I did.” That's we should explain Get Fit Guy at the quick and dirty tips network is another podcast that Ben does. If you haven't check there, you should.
Ben: I actually, yeah, I released a very short five to ten minute podcast on…
Brock: Bite size.
Ben: All things fitness, yes. Bite size – every week, and that's over at quickanddirtytips.com, and it actually doesn't overlap much with the stuff that we talked about in this podcast which is just more pseudoscience and woo woo, and ways to eff up your neck. Anyways Brock. All right…
Brock: So this continues – “I love the broad range of unique health and fitness topics that Ben and Brock break down and make easily understandable, as well as their sarcastic sense of humor that is just ohh! so entertaining.”
Ben: Uhm, are we that sarcastic?
Brock: I think JrMidge, I think he was – or he or she was being sarcastic about our sarcasticness.
Ben: Yeah, sneaky.
Brock: Sneaky. “I really look forward to the new podcast.” Maybe this is sarcastic as well. “I really look forward to the new podcast every week.”
Ben: Yeah, every freakin' week.
Brock: “Keep up the good work.”
Ben: Yeah, we sure to do that every seven days. Well cool! That's a great review and I actually glad he mentioned the Get Fit Guy’s quick and dirty tips podcast because as if you didn't have enough to digest going to this podcast for an hour to an hour and a half a couple of times a week. There's another one for you. And actually all of those podcasts are articles that are actually read in podcast form so you can always just go read the article too. I actually spend a great deal of time. I recently just wrote an article on cold water emersion and ice bath over there that you can go and read. So, anyways though, great review JrMidge. We'll keep up our sarcastic sense of humor … or will we?
Brock: Yeah, we should.
Ben: And yeah, we really. We really think about doing that. You can access the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/326, that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/326, if you don't have anything better to do with your life. And you happen to be sitting on a subway and you wanna access next cervical traction device or the research on sleep or anything else we talked about. You can do that and this weekends, stay tune, great podcast coming out on health scams, everything from infrared saunas to hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers. Find out if they work, find out if they down, find out the truth. It's our version of 60 minutes without the production quality. So enjoy.
You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield fitness podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.
July 29, 2015 Podcast: Is Baby Powder Healthy, The Best Workout To Look Good Naked, Can You Reverse Tooth Cavities, and How To Get A Stronger Neck.
Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page, Skype “pacificfit” or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.
- Why some people really, truly can genetically get by on less sleep.
- The best time(s) of day to exercise for better sleep or to beat insomnia.
- Geez…I thought *I* geeked out on sleep!
This podcast is also brought to you by Onnit. Get a crazy zombiebell like the one below when you click here to visit Onnit for an instant 5% discount on fitness gear and 10% discount on supplements.
Sep 23-24, 2015. Ben is speaking at the Biohackers Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now.
New Greenfield Longevity Panels. Working closely with WellnessFX, America’s top laboratory for concierge blood testing and online access to all your blood testing results, Ben has developed the “Greenfield Longevity Blood Testing Package”, which is the most complete blood testing package that money can buy. There is one package specifically designed for men, and one for women. This is by far the most comprehensive blood testing package that exists, and Ben created it for the health enthusiast, biohacker and anti-aging individual who wants access to the same type of executive health panel and screening that would normally cost tens of thousands of dollars at a longevity institute. Virtually all hormones and all biomarkers are covered in this panel.
Ben Greenfield has officially launched his first work of fiction: “The Forest”. Twin brothers River and Terran discover a portal to a hidden forested world attacked by parasitic fungi, dark shamans, and serpents. Along with an assembled band of unlikely misfits that includes coyotes, whitetail deer, wood thrushes, and fox squirrels, they must unlock their unique powers to control the elements of earth, air, fire and water, and save the forest before the evil they’ve uncovered can spill back into their own world. Click here to read it now! New chapters released every 7-14 days.
The BenGreenfieldFitness Quarterly box has officially launched! When you sign-up, you’ll get a Quarterly handpicked box jam-packed with Ben’s favorite fitness gear, supplements, nutrients and research-proven biohacks.
Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.
And of course, this week’s top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!
As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Brock Skywalker Armstrong, the Podcast Sidekick and Audio Ninja.
Is Baby Powder Healthy?
Preston says: He is fresh out of the shower and wants to know your opinion about Baby Powder (specifically talc). Is there a link to cancer? He sees stuff online but is it true?
The Best Workout To Look Good Naked
Anonymous says: She feels too big in her clothes. She doesn’t want to be super skinny (with a big thigh gap or anything) but she would like to be thin. The catch: she doesn’t want to exercise or go on a diet, she just wants to eat normally. Is this even possible?
Can You Reverse Tooth Cavities?
Chad says: Recently he went to the dentist and they say he needs a root canal. He did some research and has seen that there can be some deleterious effects, long term, from root canals. He would like your opinion and would also like to know if you know of a way to reverse the early stages of an abscess.
How To Get A Stronger Neck
Brock says: I have a serious crick in my neck. The stiffness has been getting worse and worse over the last year (since falling asleep on a plane) to the point where I actually avoid doing long rides on my road bike and primarily ride my commuter. Is there anything I can do myself to strengthen my neck and loosen up adhesions/tightness in there? I am reluctant to go too hard on those little neck muscles and ligaments because they seem very delicate.