I started experiencing pain in my shoulder, so I went to the doctor. I was referred to a shoulder specialist who ordered x-rays. The diagnosis: calcific tendonitis. The specialists, told me I should stop lifting heavy weights; that I’m “not meant for this.” I couldn’t help but say, “Bullshit.” Then, after a few months, the pain went away, and just recently came back. Did I consume or omit something from my diet during its remission? Did my stretching and foam rolling help? Was it just inflamed, and if so, what caused it to? I wasn’t sure, which made me uneasy and frustrated. The only data I had was from my workouts, but they have been the same for years. This was the beginning of my interest in correlation research. While correlations do not imply causation (stats 101), they can offer a place to start conducting more detailed research.
I began to study what was known in the medical literature regarding calcific tendonitis. The chemistry and biology I took during my degree in Life Science was a big help, allowing me to think of otherwise mysterious and elusive questions to the untrained reader. Since calcium is relatively highly reactive, it was a good candidate for what is known in chemistry as a double-replacement reaction, in vitro anyways. I refined my treatment searches, and discovered anecdotes regarding magnesium supplementation to remove excess calcium. My search led me to scholarly articles regarding minimally invasive soundwave therapy, supplements, and practices such as muscle stimulation to improve blood flow to the affected area. It was a start.
I used this same approach to win 1st place in a body building competition. I started with a goal, researched and created a plan, obtained all necessary resources (like myfitnesspal, a food scale, and various blood tests ), and began “testing.” The construction of correlation visualization between multiple variables, such as calories vs body weight vs energy, were quite a bit of fun, and they gave me a high level of satisfaction and accomplishment.
That hopefully gave you a “Why” to start measuring and collecting data on yourself. Eventually, this will be a standard practice in medicine, and the process will be simplified via analysis software and easy to follow, user friendly guides. Until then, here are a few suggestions for the “What’s, How’s, Where’s, and When’s” of measuring:
What: Determine a problem to learn more about. Ex. “Why does my stomach hurt all the time?”
How: Through diligent research, come up with a few variables to measure.. Ex. “Track food and Track blood work biomarkers. ”
Where: The appropriate tools to measure said variables need to be obtained. Ex.”cron-o-meter for food tracking and analysis, lab tests from Life Extension.”
When: The best time to start measuring is now!
Practicing a prevention lifestyle will keep you in optimal health. For a complete guide, check out our Preventative Health Maintenance video! The most helpful resource is a doctor who sees the value of your preventative health goals, and practices functional medicine. It would also be very beneficial if your doc also had a PhD, indicating a strong interest in research. It is important to remember to relax and not let yourself become overwhelmed. After all, the main idea is quality of life improvement!
I will soon complete a gene test to see if I have the alleles associated with chronic inflammation and related issues, and compare it with my blood work and micro nutrient intake. Ideally, one should run multiple tests and cross reference values to narrow down the culprit of your ailment and effectively treat or cure it!