Blog 47 – Industry Malarkey
So I learned a new term the other day, while doing some light reading regarding performance, More specifically on the biomechanics of rotation as it relates to throwing or swinging an object and maximal force production when I came across some whacky videos regarding BIOTENSEGRITY. And if you’re anything like me, you immediately thought, “There’s no way that’s a real thing… Doctor of what? Making shit up?” But at the same time, I was also intrigued enough to spend the next bit looking into this new, fancy medical/performance term, including asking our neighborhood friendly physical therapist, Dr. Paul. For those interested the definition of biotensegrity according to Wikipedia is “the application of tensegrity principles to biological structures. Biological structures such as muscles, bones, fascia, ligaments and tendons, or rigid and elastic cell membranes, are made strong by the unison of tensioned and compressed parts.” To be fair, not all that fancy of a concept and something that we have regular practice at with global, compound movements like a squat and deadlift, and even more apparent in a more dynamic move like the clean and snatch. Taking the squat for example, if we are loose or weaker in the upper body then it doesn’t matter how strong our legs are. In a rotational or throwing example, if we have slack in the lower body/trunk then we won’t be able to throw said object “over those mountains.”
On the surface, it’s a basic concept that we all have experienced or understand in some way. But there’s also a fundamental issue here. Like many flavors of snake oil, we are often skeptical of things in order to keep ourselves safe(oooo from biotensegrity to cognitive behavior, so smart right now). So in order to sell an idea, folks pander to the familiar. And before you know it, we’ve become a disciple in search of confirming information or, in the fitness world, confirming GAINZ – didn’t think I’d forget to slip that in, did you? And before you know it an entire market exists for the sole purpose of influencing purchasing behavior, while we are still convinced that we’ve struck gold so we buy into it more and more.
This arrives in so many ways in the health and fitness industry. The easiest example would be the barbell squat. While the barbell squat is a great skill to acquire, it’s just that – a skill. You could absolutely build HUGE legs without a barbell, but we’ve all been convinced that it is THE only way and all other squats just build capacity or are an accessory for the back squat. While this actually isn’t all that bad, back squats are great, relatively safe, and do absolutely facilitate getting HUGE, there are examples that are far more detrimental to your health, fitness, and well being.
The easiest example here is food or in particular dieting. While perhaps more complex than a silly metal rod that we slap across our backs and go uppy-downy, the same pattern (not the uppy-downy part) repeats itself around food. We are all born with evolutionarily advanced hungry cues and have been told all our lives what proper nutrition (generally) looks like, and yet one of the largest industries in the world exists to completely strip you of the power to honor your body and it’s own hunger. And it’s so big in fact, that it has created its own smaller billions-of-dollars sub-industry that acts in concert to hold you into a perpetual state of spending (and many other behaviors and attitudes that are far more detrimental to you than a big grocery bill). Yes, we are talking about the diet industry and diet culture, which to circle back to the title of the blog is absolutely industry malarkey, and yet we’re still convinced that it’s a pathway to greater health and self-actualization…
But now I have simultaneously opened a wide door here and reached my blog’s general length limit. So I’ll end it here with a very suspenseful, to be continued…