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Dr. Dirk Farrell

The Impact of Impact: How your workout may be failing you

Bones are important. They hold you up. They are a key ingredient to your body's ability to get around in the world. Bones make blood for your body. They work best when strong with just the right amount of density.

And yet, you are unknowingly and constantly walking a knife's edge between maintaining your bones and breaking them down.

“After all,” thinks your body, “It takes good energy to maintain bones and if you are not using all this bone density then you must not need that much. So, why should I do all the work to maintain dense bones when I could use these minerals for more pressing needs without as much effort?”

Sadly, your body doesn’t ask your opinion or ask for your command in this regard. It simply goes about doing what what it sees as best based on what stresses it is under.

Let’s take a look at three important considerations:

  • Your body has 206 bones.
  • 52 million Americans are impacted by low bone density and osteoporosis (extreme low bone density).
  • One of every two American women will suffer from a bone fracture after age 50.

Maintaining bone density is important for many reasons. You know that. And, if you are like many people, you also make some attempt to help your bones along by going to the gym or walking. Maybe you even do some bike riding figuring that your muscles are pulling on your bones so that should help. Right?

It doesn’t. At least not much. (Yes, it is beneficial in other ways! It just doesn’t help important bone growth.)

Research shows that, actually, you may need over 4 G’s to stimulate your bones to retain and increase their density (4 G’s is four times the pull of gravity). In order to create this amount of force on your bones you need significant impact; jumping down from something maybe twelve inches high, sprinting, jumping up and down vigorously, and the like. Jogging doesn’t do it. Elliptical machines and stair stepper machines don’t do it. Sitting on a bike doesn’t do it (sadly, because I like riding my bike a lot - which I won’t stop doing. I’ll simply make sure I keep doing running intervals, vigorous jumping jacks, etc).

The technical term used to describe this process is Osteogenic Loading. It’s a fancy way of saying, “Enough impact to cause bone to form.”  

Q: Wrapping things up, what is the impact of impact?

A: If you get enough impact on your bones often enough then you have a much better chance of avoiding numerous health problems in your years to come.

Who ever said going ballistic was all bad? They were wrong. Go ballistic - in the right way, with enough force and with enough frequency to get dense. Bone dense that is. And if at least some of your workout isn’t making you go ballistic, then your workouts are failing you in this way. You work too hard to let that happen.

Remember, you have to do the right hard things to make the rest easier.

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