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All Posts By

Austin Baraki

When Logic Fails: Part 1

By | Training | No Comments

Take home points: In the context of complex systems, logical analysis can be useful in generating hypotheses, but not for drawing conclusions with a high degree of confidence, because there are almost always confounding factors that have not been discovered or accounted for. We must therefore always be cautious with the claims and conclusions we draw from our own observational experience. This is why scientists and evidence-based practitioners carefully qualify their statements in order to avoid overstepping, and should clearly identify conjecture that lacks supporting evidence. In contrast, we must be deeply suspicious of anyone making very confident claims in…

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Fear, Catastrophizing, and Training

By | Training | 3 Comments

Introduction Regular followers are likely familiar with our interest in a “biopsychosocial” approach to both training and injury, particularly the modifiable psychological factors that can have significant effects on performance, recovery, and subsequent adaptation. One important phenomenon we discuss frequently in the context of acute injury and persistent pain is catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is a complex psychological process (sometimes described as a cognitive distortion) in which an individual appraises a situation in a maladaptive, excessively negative way — for example, immediately thinking of the “worst-case scenario”. It consists of three fundamental components: 1)    Rumination, e.g.: “I can’t stop thinking about how…

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Does YOUR metabolism change with weight loss?

By | Nutrition | 6 Comments

Yes. Your metabolism changes when you lose weight. Some of these changes are good, e.g. decreased fasting blood sugar, improved cholesterol measures, decreased storage of fat in places you don’t want it like your liver and waist, etc. Not all of the metabolic changes are good however, and in recent times there has been much discussion and handwringing over the role of metabolic adaptation (sometimes referred to as “metabolic damage”) in the setting of weight loss. The idea is, given that body mass is controlled by the balance of energy expenditure versus energy intake, that in periods of caloric restriction,…

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Placebo Sleep?

By | Recovery | 9 Comments

A 2014 paper by Draganich & Erdal studied the effect of sleep on cognitive functioning in 164 undergraduate students – with an interesting twist. Participants were given a questionnaire in which they ranked how deeply they had slept the prior night on a scale of 1-10. Subjects received education about REM sleep and cognitive function, then were intentionally deceived by the experimenters to believe that measuring certain physiologic parameters would allow calculate how much time they spent in REM sleep the night before. Subjects were attached to various sophisticated-appearing monitors, and were allowed to watch their brainwave activity by EEG…

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The science of where YOUR pain comes from.

By | News, Recovery, Training | 2 Comments

Longtime followers will be well aware that chronic back pain is a widely prevalent, complex, and often disabling problem (see here, here, and here). A wide array of specialized interventions have been developed over the years, and many of these have taken hold in clinical practice without strong evidence for their effectiveness. This paper discusses recent data from trials on radiofrequency denervation as a treatment for selected patients with chronic back pain. The idea is to identify a suspected structural “nociceptive driver”, such as an arthritic facet joint or sacroiliac joint. This peripheral focus of noxious stimulus is often also…

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