About 303nickp

I'm just guy in the world. Looking to share the things that have helped me along my path to better physical, emotional, spiritual, and professional performance. I surf. I run, and hike. I ride bikes, and work at a bike shop. The outdoors is my chapel, and mother nature is my god. I seek a wholistic understanding of the human condition - from cellular biology - to anthroppology - to anything I can get my hands on! I'm currently certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine for personal training, with a specialization in Corrective Exercise. I studied at Fort Lewis College and the University of Colorado Boulder in health sciences before a series of unfortunate circumstances led to me dropping out. At present, I continue to pursue my interests through scientifically validated literature, and media of all sorts, and I feel that the alternative approach is going great! I've spent the last several years training, expiramenting and playing hard! In the process, I have dealt with, and solved many common musculo-skeletal injuries, and dietary frustrations. This blog is a way for me to put the things I've learned to some immediate use, as a means to retain and assimilate for future application in my practice. I'm here for me, I'm here for you, and I hope we can move in the right direction together!

Pacific Coast Bicycle Touring Setup

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This gallery contains 10 photos.

For years I have played around with the idea of doing some extended bike adventuring along the pacific coast of the US and Canada. (route map here!) Next month I will have the opportunity to finally make it happen, at … Continue reading

Shoes for people who hate shoes

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I
Love
These
Shoes!!
And that’s coming from a person who generally hates shoes. After years of hiking, running trails, being on my feet all day, and experiencing all manner of discomfort, I’ve become very particular about my footwear. For my feet (short/wide with low arches aka hobbit feet) i’ve not found another brand of shoe that suits me better than Merrell.
This, my most recent pair, is the Tour Glove model. I was previously using the Trail Glove, which had better ventilation, and was equally minimal in weight. I wear these shoes everyday I work at the bike store, and they are flipp’n phenomenally light and comfortable. The Tour Glove has a slightly more refined, and workplace friendly appearance with it’s black leather upper.
Only a couple weeks in this pair, but the last pair I wore religiously, and I still can’t bear to throw them out, even though they smell like pure death.
I highly recommend this product to everyone regardless of anything. They’re that good.
Just remember minimalist shoes take a long time to adapt to. Keep the running to a minimum, and foam roll/ stretch your lower legs to keep the tissues in good shape.

I now have four pairs of Merrell shoes, and I’m stoked on the ergonomics, and the quality.

swiss army pump

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swiss army pump

When space, and weight are at an absolute premium, it goes without saying that you should only bring what you need, and not much more.
For Bikepacking, and Cycle touring, I devised this easy method for bringing some emergency electrical tape.
Sure, I’ve got like a million different ways to attach things, fix things, tie things down, etc. but there are some times whan a little good old fashioned sticky tape just works best. Using a large carabiner to dispense the tape works absolutely perfect, and keeps things neat. The pump is a Blackburn Airstik SL.

If you are Backpacking or hiking, just swap the pump
for a Bic lighter, and have that be your 2-in-one space-saving-doo-dad.

Think smart. Don’t bring more than enough.

Troll Beast

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Troll Beast

A quick snapper of my purple beauty. Positioned conveniently near some bicycle themed street art in Kaka’ako. This was during a speedy jaunt about town.. to the doctors, loaded up on office supplies, grabbed a delicious tuna melt from Fresh Cafe. Bestly, it was all done aboard this purple, majestic beast of a bicycle. I shall blog further, in uncomfortable amounts of detail about the ins and outs of this triumphant machine.
Big plans for this little guy!

Trash is a problem. Compost is a life-saver!

I know. You care about the environment. Everybody does to some extent. Our symbiotic relationship with nature is something that we can only deny at our own peril. Every cell in your body is constructed from things that were provided to you by our planet earth. Our environment is below our feet, above our heads, and it surrounds our entire bodies as it fills our lungs and digestive systems endlessly.

You are simply a product of your environment!

I could go on, and on, and on, about how humans (especially Western humans) have lost touch with, and chosen to systematically destroy nature, but I’ll try not to go down that road.. For now, I want to focus on one thing that we can ALL do to help the situation. It’s extremely easy, inexpensive, interesting and dare I say…. Fun!

Here’s the deal: Acouple of years back, I was at the grocery store one day going through the list of things that I needed for the week. Somewhere near the bottom of the list was a thing that I dreaded. 13 gallon trash bags for my standard American, oversized Kitchen trash receptacle. As I stood there in the aisle of ridiculous, unsustainable, “disposable”, and toxic “home-care” products, I had a slight revelation:

Why would I pay money for something that I ONLY intend to throw away????”

At that moment, I decided that I was going to find a better way to manage my household waste. The first step was to think about: 1- What am I actually sending to the landfill? and 2-Why do I need to put a plastic liner in my plastic trash can?

Question one broke down into two major categories which influenced my extreme trash makeover:

  1. paper and plastic packaging items that are not recyclable in my area. (milk cartons, zipper bags, other food packaging I can’t avoid buying)
  2. Organic, plant-based vegetable and fruit waste! (apple cores, pineapple tops, avocado skins, pits, nut shells, egg shells, potato skins, and on and on)

What I realized, is that the ONLY reason I would  EVER need a liner in my trash can would be to contain the decaying matter from the waste in category 2!

EUREKAAAA!

this meant that all I would have to do would be to find an easy way to separate the organic, category 2 matter from the dry, and non-decomposing category 1 matter! SO easy!!

Here is a synopsis of my process for dealing with household waste. It has saved me from wasting money on trash, and I literally only have to take out the (actual) trash 1 time every SIX WEEKS!

Let me introduce you to my super-efficient, industry-leading, state-of-the-art trash can:

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Not impressed? I understand. The real technology lies within..

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I know, I know.. Thank you. Beautiful right?  : ]  Call me crazy, but I do find a bit of beauty in something so simple, elegant, and downright convenient! I’ve used a large plastic pretzel container (which happens to fit nicely in my existing trash can) to contain all of the banana peels, orange peels, broccoli stumps and other things that would otherwise give the old trash can it’s signature stink. The container also manages any liquid waste prduced by decaying organic material, eliminating the need for a big, wasteful plastic bag.  As SOON as the Cat-2 container gets full, or shows any sign of mold or bad smell, I move it to step 2. Each time I empty it, I put a couple of inches of fresh soil in the bottom which acts like nature’s kitty litter, absorbing fluid and most of the smells associated with a typical trash can.

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Ok, this is where the real magic happens! Outside on my patio (or: Lanai as we call them in Hawaii) I have two 61L plastic tubs. This is the first one. All matter from my big pretzel container gets emptied into here about 2-3 times per week. It is also a convenient place to put all of the leaves and dust that I sweep up on my lanai, as well as trimmings from my living plants. I live in a 1 bedroom apartment, and this saves me SO MUCH hassle! Otherwise I’d be dragging my stinky, half-full, store-bought, scented trash bags down 6 flights of stairs at least once a week!!! Now, I know what you are thinking, because I thought the same thing:

“But doesn’t it……..STINK?”

NO! With the lid on the container, it creates a perfect anaerobic environment for the decomposition to take place, and you won’t smell a thing until you open it! In fact, my bed is only about 9 feet away, the window is always open, and I never smell a thing!!

Here is the stage two container:

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I’d open it up, but the contents are not very photogenic. Just imagine a dark-colored, gelatinous, homogenous sludge. At this point, the decomposition process continues, uninterrupted, until the tub from stage one starts to get full. (you can see also how much physical decomposition takes place, as this tub was full when I put it here) I’ll add dry soil to the stage two container, and mix it all up in an attempt to absorb any excess moisture. Once both tubs are full, and tub #2 is reasonably dry and manageable, I will begin to mix the contents of tub 2 with the bed of soil. Seen here:

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At this point, tub #2 is now empty, and ready to be tub #1 again. My soil supply is re-charged with all of the broken down matter from the composting process. This leaves me with a constant supply of very fertile soil for all of my potted plants! As a bonus, it’s not uncommon to have food-bearing plants randomly begin growing from the soil bed. This cherry tomato plant (far left in the bucket) came out of nowhere, and has been making bunches of tomatoes for months!

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As an extra bonus, the compost tubs provide more than enough food for the little black ants that would otherwise be finding their way into my kitchen! Furthermore, the ants provide food for the green geckos who live on my lanai! Yay Nature!Image

So, there you have it! This idea came about simply by asking the question:

Why the heck do I need to buy trash bags?”

And Now, I’ve saved time and money in the form of trips to the dumpster and fancy, dreadful scented drawstring trash bags. I’ve created a small ecosystem of my own right in the comfort of my own space. I’ve saved hundreds of pounds of waste from being needlessly trucked across our beautiful island by big, thirsty trucks only to be dumped somewhere out-of-sight. And most importantly, I’ve learned that we can make big improvements on our environments, gardens, and quality of life just by asking ourselves why we do some of the silly things we do as ‘westerners’.

Here is a quick Re-Cap of the things needed to put this into action:

  1. A plastic container that fits inside your existing trash can
  2. 2 or more plastic tubs with lids. Size depends on space and # of people in household
  3. A garden, or large container of loose, well-ventilated soil for mixing.

Things to avoid composting

  1. Meat, fish, or any animal products. This could feed certain bacteria that you don’t want around your vegetables.
  2. paper products, even ‘biodegradable’ ones still contain toxic chemicals that you may not want in your growing soil.
  3. Large items such as big broccoli stumps, whole pineapple tops, sticks, wood etc. These items can be composted, but do yourself a favor by cutting them the best you can up first!

Tips for success:

  1. If you have room in your freezer, keep a container for any animal waste that you may produce (food packaging with residue, fluids, etc) as these items may become quite stinky in the trash. Keep it frozen until it’s time to take out the trash.
  2. RECYCLE anything and everything that you can!  I keep a net in the cabinet under the sink where recyclable containers are kept separately.
  3. Buy food with minimal packaging! Most times the foods that are the most heavily packaged, are also the most heavily processed, and therefore the least healthy.
  4. If you don’t have anything to compost, then chances are you are not eating enough fresh produce! Go straight to the produce section when you shop, and get the good organic NON-GMO produce. Your body will thank you!

ps. I realize that Hawaii is an ideal place to do this, with the lack of freezing temperatures and such. You CAN DO IT though.. I’m convinced! Get creative! Let me know what you come up with!

Much love..  Np

How much do you sit? and – Why it’s killing you.

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Ha! How’s that for a typical, scare-you-into-reading-more headline? We sure see a lot of those nowadays don’t we? The truth is: if sitting too much doesn’t directly put you in an early grave, then it will only crush your quality of life with the musculo-skeletal dysfunction that it breeds. This is an Ohh-sooo complex and interesting topic which will be covered in further detail through future posts.

A few BIG reasons why sitting is a drain on your soul:

Your butt. Is not. Designed. FOR SITTING ON!

Instead, its home to some of the largest, most powerful muscles in your body! Designed to Lift – JUMP – run – stand – cycle – ski – skate – SPRINT – step – stand – and LOOK BEAUTIFUL! When these muscles get sat on, they become inhibited*, starved of fresh blood, and stuffed up with all the bad stuff (lymph and deoxygenated blood)

Your PELVIS  is your core.

Forget all that nonsense about 6-pack abs, -ripped this-   -flat that-  ..forget it.  If  you can’t exercise proper stability and control position through your pelvis and spine*, then you might as well be trying building a pyramid upside-down! The position of this structure, has a direct influence on the structures above, and below it, as well as the ability of those structures to create efficient and powerful movement!
Movement is required for HEALTH.
If sitting for long periods involves no functional movement, and it actually deteriorates your ability to move once you finally stand up, then well, you get it.. The saddest part about this is that we REALLY WANT TO MOVE! Many of us obligatory desk-jockeys are also athletes, adventurers, explorers, and all-kind of weekend warriors! We know it’s good for us to move. We know that. But sometimes that weekend 5k leaves you wondering “What the -bleep- is wrong with my knee?” -or- “-bleep- my shoulders are tight..” after your leisurely surf session. Could it be that this has something to do with the way you spend 40 -80 hours per work week sitting in a horrible position?
Ok.. Enough ranting and preaching the horrors of 90-degrees-of-hip-flexion-and-crushing-your-prime-movers. You guys get it. You’re smart. That’s why you are reading this. You understand this is a problem.. The good news is that there IS a sloution, and in my particular case, it happened to be a ridiculuosly easy (and cheap) one:
Here’s the deal:
   My “desk” (if you can even call it that) consisted of a portable table with the folding legs, like one you’d see loaded with crap at a garage sale. The thing was way too high, and my chair was way too low. Also, the table had no slope at all, which makes NO sense to me. (in my perfect world, every desk would slope at least a couple of degrees toward the poor soul trapped at it’s mercy) So my first step was to cut a few inches off the front legs of the Table-desk to achieve the desired slope. This helped with the height, but when standing it put my wrists in an over-extended position.
..but there was a problem…
                                                            I was still sitting down!!!
The pioneering of stand-sit-stand technology continued to morph and evolve until one day I said:  “Hey I think I’m gonna grab that empty paper box, flip it upside-down, and stand at this -bleep-n desk.”  EUREKA!!
Now I’m able to alternate standing and sitting positions when I’m stuck doing desk work! Ideally with just socks, bare feet, or flat, minimalist style shoes. The benefits or this include, but are not limited to:
  • Better strength and function from my glutes and hamstrings
  • More awareness of my body overall
  • Increased calorie consumption (for fat loss or weight loss goals)
  • Better foot and lower leg mechanics (with proper standing position)
  • Increased range of motion in hip flexors (Super-crucial for any load bearing activity, especially running, double-especially running marathons)
  • Better neck and head position (less discomfort, jaw-clenching, headaches)
  • Better breathing mechanics (more diaphragm, less chest-breathing)
  • Better shoulder position (scapulae lower and more retracted)
  • Less LOW BACK PAIN! (increased proprioception* and better activation of lumbar spine stabilizers, as well as less tightness in the ilipsoas* pulling on your L-spine)
  • Better pelvic-floor function and decreased pressure on sex organs, erectile tissue in men, and less urinary or end-digestive issues.
  • Decreased level of perceived stress.

Of course, there is more to this concept than I can possibly go over in one blog post. The specifics of proper postural alignment will dictate the sustainability of this new work position, and those same specifics are best taught individually by a coach such as myself, after proper assessment and evaluation. That being said, here are some general guidlines to help you stand up-RIGHT!

  • Big toes touch together, heels 1-3″ apart
  • Weight distributed evenly across forefoots and heels – both front-to-back and side-side.
  • Knees not locked, knee-caps point straight ahead
  • Squeeze glutes only enough to keep hips forward-neutral. Don’t rotate your thigh-bones externally too much.
  • Belly-button draws in slightly toward spine, but no need to make it a flex-fest.
  • Shoulder-blades pull back and down (likely will require some stretching of shoulders, chest and neck if this will remain sustainable.)
  • Chin pulls in toward the neck, head retracts slightly
  • Tongue rests on the roof of your mouth, and jaw remains relaxed with 2-3mm of space between top teeth, and bottom teeth.
  • Head remains fairly level, or tilted forward slightly.

So, that is a lot to take in! It’s also a lot more challenging than it sounds. This will take some serious practice, but it’s well-worth it. Work on one thing at a time, and use this technique as a self-assessment to see what areas of your body are struggling against gravity.

Take control of your posture, and throw your chair out the window!

Thanks, and let me know how it works!

PS. since making this video, i’ve modified my standing box-desk so it actually slopes away from me a few degrees, which puts my wrists in a wonderfully-neutral and healthy position.
And I’ve adopted a similar setup for my home office (which consists of another modified box on a crappy piece of furniture with no chair) and I’m loving it!   :]

Sample Corrective exercise protocol for shoulder Impairment

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The shoulder. It’s a marvelous wonder of evolutionary engineering. With the astonishing range of motion available at the shoulder, also comes the necessity of serious load bearing and force management characteristics. Given the complexity of the shoulder structure, and the high demands of athletics and daily life, it’s not too difficult to see how things can get out-of whack.

Now I won’t bore you with the whole anatomy of the shoulder, or all of the staggering statistics about shoulder dysfunction in the U.S. , but I will say this: There is only ONE bone that  connects your arm to your body, and there are at least 17 muscles, and half a dozen critical ligaments that contribute directly to the function (or dysfunction) of the shoulder joint, as well as keeping your arm from falling off. This is an important concept, because the muscles dictate the position of the bones (both immediately and progressively over long periods of time) and the position of the bones has everything to do with the functional capacity of a given joint, or through the entire human movement system. Read that last sentence again or write it down it’s an extremely important concept.. Position is everything!! The ability to produce force, reduce/absorb force, and stabilize the joints  efficiently depends on proper alignment and relative position of all structures involved.

Now, about the shoulder. It’s not just the 30 minutes or three hours you spend exercising everyday that affects the shoulder joint. all 24 hours of every day, the effects of gravity, modern life, emotional state, and nutritional status all effect the resting position (and therefore the working position) of the scapula, humerus, and clavicle. I’d like to use myself as a case study:

Name: Nick P.  Age: 27  Occuption: Personal Trainer and Bike Shop Manager  Job requirements: Various physical activities, lots of standing and walking, but a significant amount of desk/computer work.   Activities: Surfing – Mountain biking – Road Cycling – running (from most  >  least)  Incidence of pain: Front of shoulder (anterior glenohumeral joint) and base of skull mostly on right side (Atlanto-Occipital joint) Other Symptoms: Occasional headaches, tightness around jaw. Postural Deviation: Slight forward translation of the head, slightly rounded and elevated shoulders.

Now. If you are still with me, I hope that any of this sounds familiar! The postural distortion described above is OVERWHELMINGLY common. Sitting. At the desk. In the car. At the table. On the couch. these things take a huge toll!  Combine all this with some fun and strenuous activities that instigate even more scapular elevation, protraction, (surfing/cycling esp.) and you are on the fast track to some sub-optimal positioning of the shoulder complex.

Techniques for correction of my shoulder challenges in order of application:

  1. Self Myo-Fascial Release (for shortened, overactive tissues) uses manual pressure, or pressure applied by various implements (foam roller, lacrosse ball etc.) to isolate, and basically crush overactive muscle and bound-up fascia tissue until it releases some slack. Video- 0:05 – 0:55
  2. Static stretching (for shortened, overactive tissues) is probably the most well-known form of flexibility training, and is commonly misdirected at muscles that are already overly lengthened. This technique uses continuous external tension applied to a muscle, or group of muscles for a period of 0:30 – 1:00 to induce a relaxation response, and add to the slack from step 1. Video 0:55 – 1:05 and 1:18 – 1:20.
  3. Muscle Activation (for inhibited, shy and underactive tissues) via isolated strengthening and positional isometrics. This is essentially a way to take all of those lazy, underactive muscles and give them a chance to turn on and not be totally overwhelmed by their opposing muscle group.
  4. Integration (training movement patterns in the newly acquired range of motion) Uses total-body, or multi joint movement with ideal form, and a slow, controlled tempo to introduce your brain to this long-lost range of motion. This is the key part which assimilates the nervous system pathways that control movement in this “new” range of motion and body position.

This is merely an introduction to a concept that is instrumental in my practice. it is by NO means intended to be specifically instructional, and should be used with a reasonable amount of caution. The process is dependent on controlled, but considerable discomfort, and if you choose to dabble then that’s all on you. If it hurts too bad, back off. If your head explodes, it’s not my fault. But the benefits of this process are both immediate, and cumulative, just like how your posture became so turtle-ish in the first place!

I’m sure that this overly-simplified explanation will leave most of you with more questions than answers, but it is merely an introduction to my approach. I hope it gets your wheels turning, and keeps you coming back!

Ps. the white things I’m holding overhead at the end of the video are 20lb sand bags I made out of an banner with my friend’s sewing machine and some duct tape. :]