Friday, February 28, 2014

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The following are snipets from one of the most influencial and insightful books I have ever read.  The book itself is quite comprehensive...and therefore contains many more sage and intelligent points than those I will mention here.  The passages I will include here are from the first half of the book that essentially outline the nature of natural science and the "response to crisis"...but it is the first half that had the greatest impact on my personal and professional perspective on how to formulate strategy and how to go about the craft of searching for new frameworks and new solutions.  Again, the following are passages from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn and therefore all credit goes to the author. 

The Route to Normal Science

"To be accepted as a paradigm, a theory must seem better than its competitors, but it need not, and in fact never does, explain all the facts with which it can be confronted.  (Normal science) suggests which experiments would be worth performing and which...would not."

"Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion."

"The new paradigm implies a new and more rigid definition of the field. Those unwilling or unable to accomodate their work to it must proceed in isolation or attach themselves to some other group."

"In science, a paradigm is rarely an object for replication.  Instead, is an object for further articulation and specification under new or more stringent conditions.  ...Paradigms gain their status because they are more successful than their competitors in solving a few problems that the group of practitioners has come to recognize as being acute."

Normal Science as Puzzle-solving

"Perhaps the most striking feature of the normal research problems we have just encountered is how little they aim to produce major novelties, conceptual or phenomenal." 

The Response to Crisis

"Often a new paradigm emerges, at least in embryo, before a crisis has developed or been explicitely recognized."

"Crisis often proliferates new discoveries."

'The proliferation of competing articulations, the willingness to try anything, the expression of explicit discontent, the recourse to philosophy and to debate over fundamentals, all these are symptoms of a transition from normal to extraordinary research."

The Nature and Necessity of Scientific Revolutions

"Normal research, which is cumulative, owes its success to the ability of scientists regularly to select problems that can be solved with conceptual and instrumental techniques close to those already in existence."

To summarize, this book focuses on a deeper core concept of science...and even calls into question the very manner in which science is exacted.  Further, it places a microscope over the intrinsic motivators and "drivers" of the it real research if we already know the result?  Is it real science if the parameters from which the study begins are entrenched within a specific paradigm?  All of these are very good questions...and Kuhn manages to propel the concept of the necessity for revolutions of all types.

Very, VERY highly recommended read. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Biophysical "Diet": Organic Health Investments --- Part 1

The entire content of this post is surely too comprehensive to attempt to drive down any readers throat in one sitting.  As we have often seen in many dining experiences, our eyes are usually bigger than our stomachs...therefore I will once again refer to smaller "digestible" portions of information in an effort to facilitate the absorption of the overall message and to avoid any "information indigestion".

The Biophysical "Diet" is essentially the structured representation of my ever-evolving philosophy on human health and rehabilitation.  It has always been intact, but the specific "pillars" have been orbiting for quite some time...and it is only in the last half-year that they have come together as a result of the "gravitational pull" of the Fascia Therapy Theorem.  I would highly recommend a read (re-read) of the theorem, but it essentially reflects a broader perspective on how we engage the challenges of quality of life.  This is intuitively done in a reactive and mechanistic way...we wait until something effectively "breaks down" and then we attribute mechanistic strategies to reduce the effect(s) of said breakdown.  The theorem itself is more complex, but the fundamental philosophy is based on the idea that the current monopoly of the reactive-mechanistic paradigm is a limited can (should) be expanded in order to maximize outcome and more effectively address the underlying goal: quality of life. 

The formal framework of the Fascia Therapy Theorem opens the brackets and introduces the expanded perspective on how do we extend the life and energy in our bodies...or to be more precise, how do we slow the process of entropy.  We therefore need to integrate a pro-active component as well as an organic component.  The "odds" then become more stacked in our favor.

Pro-Active:  An action creating or controlling a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened.

Organic:   relating to or derived from living matter.

The Biophysical Diet can therefore be expressed with the following statement: 

A focused and deliberate strategy to improve the human condition by providing the human organism with a productive "diet" of sensory, mechanical, and environmental nutrients that promote health from the inside-out.  Further, this strategy engages the primitive physiological operations and therefore stimulates an "organic" response...meaning that even a small stimulus applied externally can "grow" and be expressed intrinsically in an exponential manner. 

This effectively becomes a formalized "prevention" platform as opposed to the more familiar "treatment" paradigm.  The fundamental question becomes: "how long do we have to wait before we are truly labelled as sick?"  This begs to question the rationale behind waiting through the "grey areas" until the situation is so "black" that we are left with more challenges than we may be capable of overcoming.  

The focus now shifts to the suggested term "Diet".  This can (and likely will) throw people off target somewhat...simply because we have been selectively programmed to think that there is a particular form of food that is "better" for you.  This is frustratingly if the answer lies outside of the body as opposed to in it.  It isn't WHAT we eat, it's how we absorb and use these nutrients.  Therefore we need to step back and get a little bit more "primitive" in our thinking...

Address the intrinsic systemic operation of the body so that it can more effectively absorb, deliver, and utlilize sensory, mechanical, and environmental stimulii. 
To be explicitely clear, I am not talking about a food diet!...I am referring to the implementation of sensory. mechanical, and environmental "foods" that will help to build a stronger and more resilient condition.  The "Biophysical Foods" break down into these fundamental categories:

1. Human Voltage and pH:

Cells are evolved to function at approximately -20 millivolts (or pH of 7.35).  There are a multitude of stimulii (nutritional, environmental, mechanical) that can essentially change the voltage and pH and therefore alter cellular function and "respiration"...thus affecting our rates of oxidation and regeneration.  These strategies are vast and range from simple dietary intake to environmental interventions such as Grounding (Earthing).

2. Fluid Flows and Microcirculation:

The human organism evolves from a liquid environment...and the primary mechanical stimulus during gestation are fluid flows.  This essentially indicates that fluid health and microcirculation are key factors to maintenance and health.  The basic life-sustaining processes of respiration, lymphatic drainage, and cerebral spinal fluid flow all occur in a liquid medium.  In addition, mechanical competence is fundamentally based in an efficient exchange and delivery of interstitial fluid.  

3. Sensory Integration and Modulation:

The environmental effects on the human organism are generally overlooked and under-estimated.  The healthy individual is able to ingest and regulate a myriad of sensory stimulii without any conscious effort or awareness...but those with some level of sensory impairment (neurodevelopmental disorder, autism, etc...) have extremely difficult challenges with respect to how they absorb and convert varied stimulii.  Although the healthy individual manifests an "autonomic" sensory convertion mechanism, this does not mean it is something that does not merit any attention...even if it is working well, there is always merit in making it work better.  Enhanced sensory intergation and modulation are fundamentally linked to reduction in stress and anxiety and can be directly associated with improved physchological health.  This is intimately linked to mechanical considerations because phychological / emotional dysfunction contributes to underlying levels of persistent muscular tension which affect sleep patterns and the overall ability to regenerate and recuperate.  

In summary, the Biophysical "Diet" is a framework that should help to enhance the potential for favorable outcomes for both health-provider and health-seeker.  In addition, due to the primitive perspective (intrinsic physiological oscillation), it is effectively applicable in almost all cases.  

Part 2 will focus on expanding the discussion on each of the "dietary categories" and will help to provide you with a more detailed look into their relevance within the discussion of physical health and physical prosperity.  



Friday, February 14, 2014

If you've ever made a bed, you already know alot about fascia.

I had the same reaction when I came across this convenient analogy the other day when reading through some Ida P. Rolf literature.  I have always been known to be quite skilled in expanding on concepts and deconstructing them...exposing the intricacies...and then putting back together in some context that people are able to relate to.  Although effective, this takes some time (sometimes quite a bit of it) and can often lead to distraction, disinterest, or I just plain lose people along the way.  I have recently become a fan of the more "compact" writing that attempts to put things into more real-world context as well as to attempt to convey a message without diving into too many details (I have only recently realized that the details interest ME...but most people are looking for the punchline when trolling through blogs). it is:

Most are aware of the fact that the human organism is laid down in layers.  Despite the traditional topographical representation, it is essentially a vast and complex community of differentiated layers of tissue.  These tissues are diverse, but they occupy very specific physiological "locations" ranging from superficial to deep.  Fascia (connective tissue) is unique in the sense that it is not restricted to any physiological "borders"...therefore it is found in all layers. 

The idea of "working deeper layers" is a lexicon that is well-used within the rehabilitation landscape...and is certainly an essential strategic objective in many cases.  The solution as to "how" to best access the deeper layers is varied depending on which camp or philosophy one happens to adhere to...but the tactical reality is that it very difficult to access the true deep layers effectively. 

Let's throw in the helpful analogy:  consider the layers of fascia and differentiated tissue (muscle, fat, etc) as "sheets".  What we formally have is an extremely complex "bed" that is characterized by sheets of varied densities, heavy stitching, elastic or non-elastic material...all perhaps covered by thicker layers of blankets and duvets.  The deeper "sheets" are nicely tucked into the corners of the bed providing for some decent that your sheets dont end up on the floor by morning.  Imagine this multilayered bed all messed up after a night of restless tossing and turning...this is (generically speaking) what happens within the human organism.  The layers (sheets) are loose or tight, some have shifted position in relation to the general, it is functionally less "coherent" than before. 

Therefore the question becomes: "what is the best way to make up this bed?"  Try to make your bed from the outside...keep all of the sheets stacked in order as they were before and try to fabricate something usable.  Very challenging.  The obvious and instinctive strategy (for those of you who actually MAKE your bed) is to begin at the bottom...the deepest layer (sheet)...and secure it to the foundation.  The sequence that follows is simple...sheet by sheet, the bed gets "re-made". 

This analogy all boils down to a key fundamental:  Strategies that function from an inside-out / deep to superficial are fundamentally essential and critical to long-term health and function.  Although we cannot "reach into" the deeper layers and address them directly, there is a growing number of wonderful and fascinating techniques and modalities that have actually shown to have significant effect in the deepest layers.  These range from relaxation / meditation techniques, breathing exercises, body-mind centering, and extend into innovative manual techniques (this is where I insert a Fascia Therapy plug) ;) .

In summary, there are many "bogus" techniques that render the more "metaphysical" philosophies handcuffed by bad perception.  But the reality is that there is quite a bit of scientific literature that strongly indicates that we have a more profound ability to impact the deeper layers than we think.  If you consider the concept of interoception (which is the formal opposite of proprioception) you will discover that many processes are operating at very primitive levels...beyond our voluntary control or perception.  Further, the many manual therapy approaches that incorporate this general philosophy can effectively target and access the deepest "sheets" using innovative concepts and applications that do not require that you simply "press harder" which inevitably causes damage and stress to the superficial layers. 

It is a simple analogy, but none-the-less accurate.  The bed has sheets that are easy to manage and others that are more difficult...some provide stability and a solid foundation, while others are there for comfort and insulation...but the idea of connectivity is present even in a simple "architectural" example such as this.  In the end, some sheets are too loose...some are too tight...some need to be stitched...some have worn through...but it can always be made better! 

Cheers...and sleep tight! ;)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Professional Profiles: Expert Perspectives

I have gradually been building the idea of expanding the perspectives shared on this blog in an effort to provide a more representative example how diverse professionals navigate their respective fields.  I have always been drawn to the exploration of "how different professionals exact their craft"...and the most effective way to access this is to simply ask them.

Therefore, I have set out within my small but diverse inner circle and selected a small group of professionals with diverse skills, experiences, and expertise to begin this process of examining the various perspectives on professional development, social interaction, ethics, and a host of other relevant topics.  Although the theme of this blog revolves around the health sciences, the group of professionals come from varied sources and trades...this is done intentionally because, although professions / jobs / responsibilities vary, there is always the common thread of human interaction and professional conduct.  This is perhaps the most effective "spring" of knowledge all professionals can access and actually translate into more effective practice.  In addition to the traditional "professional" in the conventional sense, I will also endeavour to engage those who bring a more personal perspective...those who may not have specific professional viewpoints, but who can certainly bring a valued perspective into the discussion. 

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Is it the best kept secret to better health?

It is rare to get "fired up" these days when I come across something new.  The general reaction is more of an "aha" moment...but this one is slowly beginning to have me scratching my head (in a good way).  I have always been a big fan of DaVinci's quote "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"...and this one definitely seems to manifest this elegant principle.

What is it exactly?  I am still in the middle (more accurately, at the beginning) of some vigourous investigation, but this "new" concept is called:

Grounding or Earthing

As per the Earthing website:

Earthing, or grounding as it is often called, simply means connecting to the Earth’s natural, negative surface charge by being barefoot outside or in bare skin contact with conductive systems indoors while you sleep, relax, or work.  A simple concept, yes.  But one with profound impact on the physiology.  Connection with the Earth restores a lost electrical signal to the body that seems to stabilize the complicated circuitry of our essentially-electrical body.  Our built-in self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms become more effective.  There are head-to-toe improvements.  Better blood flow.  Less pain and inflammation.  More energy.  Deeper sleep.  For many people the effect is dramatic, like charging a failing battery.  For others, the effect is gradual and subtle.

I would typically cast this off as "hokum", but there are some very interesting recent scientific studies that seem to indicate that this is far from simple balderdash and actually demonstrates positive results in many cases.   One of the most interesting studies even makes links to reducing emotional stress, heart rate variability, and improved autonomic tone;  

Emotional Stress, Heart Rate Variability, Grounding, and
Improved Autonomic Tone: Clinical Applications
GaĆ©tan Chevalier, PhD; Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, FACN, CNS 

Rather than attempt to deliver an intelligent explanation of a concept that I am still in the process of integrating, I will leave it to the Earthing Institute themsleves to present the general philosophy:  

The research indicates that Earthing transfers negatively charged free electrons into the body that are present in a virtually limitless and continuously renewed supply on the surface of the Earth.  The existence of this unseen electron “reservoir” has been established by science. Maintaining contact with the ground allows your body to naturally receive and become charged with these electrons. When thus “grounded,” any electron deficiencies and free radical excesses in the body are corrected.  A natural electrical state is restored. 
Why is this so important?
Electrons are the “object of affection,” so to speak, of positively charged free radicals, the biochemical agents that cause oxidation in the body.  Electrons are the source of antioxidant power.  We believe this influx of electrons from the ground serves to potently neutralize or quench free radicals that would otherwise steal electrons from healthy tissue, activity resulting in tissue damage and chronic inflammation at the basis of many common and serious diseases.  
Here, seemingly, is a simple, natural, and yet astonishingly profound remedy for chronic inflammation.

This is most definitely worthy of some in-depth empirical study (who wouldn't like to have a prescription written that says "play in the grass and walk in the sand")...but in the meantime, as I gradually collect some empirical data, I will certainly be neck deep in some of these interesting findings.  Stay tuned!