Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Tag: mobility

How to Feed, Train and Care for Your Cartilage

Most health and fitness writers don’t spend a lot of time on cartilage. As tissues go, it’s fairly isolated. It doesn’t contain blood vessels, so we can’t deliver blood-borne nutrients to heal and grow it. Cartilage has no nerve cells, so we can’t “feel” what’s going on. Doctors usually consider it to be functionally inert, a sort of passive lubricant for our joints. If it breaks down, you’re out of luck, they say.

But that’s what people used to think about bone, body fat, and other “structural” tissues: that they are inert rather than metabolically active. The truth is that bone is incredibly plastic, responding to activity and nutrition, and that body fat is an endocrine organ in its own right, secreting hormones and shaping the way our metabolism works. What about cartilage? Can we do anything to improve its strength and function?

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Dear Mark: Tendon Edition

Last week, I told you how to strengthen your tendons and improve their resilience to strain and injury. You had a lot of questions in the comment section. For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering some of them. First, can Dan John’s “Easy Strength” program work for bodyweight training? Probably, and I give my suggestions on doing so. Next, what’s the deal with meniscus tears—mild ones? Can you heal them yourself? Are there any exercises that help the process? And finally, can the tendon exercises I discussed in the original post help folks with carpal tunnel syndrome?

There were some other questions about nutrition for tendon health, which I’ll cover in a future post. Don’t think I’m ignoring them.

Let’s go:

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Why Training Your Tendons Is Important (and 11 Ways to Do It)

Building muscle is simple. Lift heavy things, rest, make sure you eat enough food, sleep, repeat. For a beginner, progress is linear and relatively sudden. You get quick feedback: your muscles get more defined, you look a little leaner, you can lift a little more each session, friends and co-workers notice and comment on the changes. New striations pop up, clothes fit differently, you feel more capable dealing with the physical world. You’re hungrier and heavier, yet still manage to drop belt sizes. All is well.

Muscle isn’t the only thing you’re impacting when you lift heavy things, though. You’re also imposing stress on your tendons and demanding an adaptive response. You’re training your tendons, too.

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Dear Mark: Muscle Cramps and Parasympathetic Overtraining

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions from readers. First one comes from Debbie, a prolific hiker and backpacker who can’t seem to shake terrible thigh muscle cramps during steep climbs. She’s tried all the conventional advice. She’s taking electrolyte tabs. She’s staying hydrated. Nothing works. What does? And then, Brad wonders about parasympathetic overtraining, a type of overtraining you don’t hear much about. What does it mean and how should he respond?

Let’s go:

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Introducing Don’t Just Sit There!

Today’s an exciting day for me. One of those jump out of bed early in anticipation of what’s to come days. Today is the day I get to announce the launch of Primal Blueprint’s Don’t Just Sit There program, packaged and perfected with my friend and world-renowned biomechanist Katy Bowman. But before I gush over Katy and the program, let me first set the stage.
The Problem with Sitting
You’ve probably heard that sitting is bad for your health. Shocker. Research is showing that prolonged sitting increases your risk for chronic disease—cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer…and on and on.

But Mark’s Daily Apple folks are health conscious, active, hit the gym five times a week, sweat it out in CrossFit, so the sedentary scare doesn’t really apply to us. Oh, but yes it does!

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12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein

Protein is an essential macronutrient. We can’t make it. We can pull it from our structural tissues – our muscles, our tendons, our organs – if we’re in dire need of amino acids, but that’s not a healthy long term strategy. For all intents and purposes, we need to consume protein to stay healthy, fit, happy, and long-lived. But we need to consume the right amount at the right times. And since I’ve already talked about how much protein certain populations should be eating on a general basis, shown you how to identify when you need more carbs, and explained how to tell if you need more fat, today’s post will cover 12 situations, symptoms, and signs that indicate a direct need for more dietary protein.

Let’s jump right in:

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Joint Mobility: Reader Question Roundup

I got a ton of feedback from my series on joint mobility. As comprehensive as I tried to be in my joint mobility series, I couldn’t possibly address every single malady a person might have. In the comment sections, readers discussed their own specific issues with joint mobility or joint pain, and while I hope my general recommendations for overall mobility helped, more targeted, specific advice is needed for targeted, specific issues. I want to help, so here are my answers to some of your questions. Add your own thoughts in the comment board to participate. Thanks, everyone!

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Filling in the Gaps: How to Incorporate Joint Mobility Drills

By now, I hope the importance of joint mobility is clear, and the benefits myriad. It isn’t the sexiest topic around to be sure. “The Importance of Shoulder Mobility” certainly isn’t as attention-grabbing as “How to Lose 10 lbs in 10 days!,” but it’s one of those often overlooked aspects of fitness that with just a little attention could save you years of pain, frustration, rehab and maybe even surgery – not to mention a boatload of cash in doctor bills. Incorporating just a few minutes of mobility drills a few times each week is a great way to round out an otherwise complete routine. If you’ve missed any of the articles I’ve written over the last few weeks you can catch up here:

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How to Maintain Shoulder Mobility and Scapular Stability

More than perhaps any other joint in our bodies, the shoulders demand close and careful attention. We use them on a daily basis and they travel a wide-ranging path; it’s in our best interest to assure that the path is the one of least resistance.

The tricky thing about maintaining good shoulder function is that it doesn’t just require strong deltoids or big traps. Those are important for moving big weight and being strong enough to handle anything life throws at you, but real shoulder function – pain-free, unimpeded shoulder function – depends on certain supporting muscles and joints of which most people are simply unaware. I mean, did you realize just how integral the scapular are? And because the shoulders’ function seems relatively straightforward and because we can work out for years without lending serious thought to how our joints move and work, now’s the time to start thinking about proper joint function before it’s too late.

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The Importance of Shoulder Mobility and Scapular Stability

If you’ve been following my series on joint mobility you’ll know that I’ve already covered how to improve and maintain joint mobility for the hips, thoracic spine, and ankles and wrists. Today and tomorrow I’ll be going over the shoulder. The shoulder is a tricky joint because it has to provide adequate stability while maintaining full mobility to prevent injury and maximize function and performance. If you look at yourself in the mirror and wave your arms around, you’ll see what I mean. If that doesn’t work, watch a swimmer, preferably one doing the IM, and watch the incredible range of motion in those shoulders. That’s what the human body is capable of.

Know what you’re looking for and you should be able to count ten different types of shoulder articulations. Ten! Contrast that with the hips (eight), the ankles (two), the wrists (four), or the spine (five), and the shoulder is clearly the most complicated joint with the greatest range of motion. Because “with great power comes great responsibility,” the shoulder is also perhaps the joint most vulnerable to injury. You can do a whole lot with a well-functioning shoulder joint, but you can also really mess yourself up and curtail your activity level for a long time if you get haphazard with its maintenance. Take it from a guy who messed his shoulder up more than once: shoulder health is absolutely required for an active, enriched life. And if you plan on attaining any sort of athletic competency on any level, you need good shoulders.

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