Where Cycling and Chiropractic Meet- That’s Hip

Not too long ago my son turned me onto the nine ugliest cycling jerseys (in this case it was a one piece skinsuit).  Ha ha, Ho ho, he said.

Little did he know that his dad, the Chiropractor, had assembled some of Siskiyou County’s finest cyclists to come together on their bikes to ‘represent’ the Fritzke Chiropractic Miracle Cure Center (where the mantra is “real miracles…sensibly priced”).

And we were looking for the perfect ‘statement’ jersey (‘kit’ in eurospeak).

Low and behold, what doesn’t appear but the hipster cycling jersey.

cycling hipster jersey 2

What’s not to like?

Every redneck and cowboy here in Siskiyou county knows that the perfect trifecta is:

  1. Riding your bike.
  2. Getting a Chiropractic adjustment.
  3. Being able to mount your bike while wearing ‘skinny jeans’.

So consider this the official announcement of the Fritzke Chiropractic Cycling Team, where health is our passion (second only to a few bags of pork rinds).  We hereby dedicate our efforts to staying upright, filling out our jerseys, and forming one of the world’s heaviest pace lines (per capita).

Team Members

Let me warn you before the introductions…not everyone is in as good of shape as we’ll be in after a summer of cycling in our hipster jerseys.  So cut us a little slack, please.

We selected E. Norma Butts for the team knowing that you need big legs for cycling.

We selected E. Norma Butts for the team knowing that you need big legs for cycling.

This trick will look great on a fifteen pound road bike!

This trick will look great on a fifteen pound road bike!

Buster can't wait to get out of his ridiculous pink jersey and into the 'hipster'.

Buster can’t wait to get out of his ridiculous pink jersey and into the ‘hipster’.

Hewie's looking for volunteers to run alongside and keep him upright.  Any takers?

Hewie’s looking for volunteers to run alongside and keep him upright. Any takers?

As soon as Rosebud loses the training wheels, she will join us in the big leagues.

As soon as Rosebud loses the training wheels, she will join us in the big leagues.

Captain Calvin plans to stay at the end of the paceline, relying on the 'blockers' to break wind ahead of him.

Captain Calvin plans to stay at the end of the paceline, relying on the ‘blockers’ to break wind ahead of him.

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A Cyclist’s Stimulus Package

cycling painWhat’s training all about?

Let’s see…you ride your bike hard so that you can ride your bike harder as you get stronger. Or…you hurt like heck now so that you don’t hurt so much a few months from now when you try to do the same ride.

Well, these are all true.

But how about looking at it this way:  riding hard provides a stimulus that invokes a physiologic adaptation.  Why of course, that’s it!

You put your body into a stress (which usually hurts anywhere from ‘some’ to ‘way much’) and your body changes itself so that if you’re stupid enough to call on it to do the same thing in the future, there will be some changes waiting for you.  The ole body won’t be caught unaware again, my friend.

But in order to fortify the troops, your body needs a bit of time to regroup.  If you’re the compulsive type who just keeps hammering day after day, there’s no ‘down time’ to fortify.

Of course this isn’t new news to just about anyone with a gnat’s awareness of exercise physiology.  It’s just that the folks over at cycling-inform.com termed the whole process ‘developing the stimulus that invoked the adaptation’.

It sounds so simple when it’s stated that way that I’m tempted to forget the butt-load of pain that’s involved.  When I’m training hard my eyesight dims, my hearing diminishes, and legs are screaming.

Now that’s some stimulus!

My old school mentality was not much more complicated than ‘the more you hurt, the faster you’ll ride’.  It certainly wasn’t a mindset of ‘I’m stimulating my body to make some adaptations’.

I think I’m going to change my perspective.  It’s a lot less daunting to start out on a ride thinking about stimulus packages than it is thinking about ‘suffer-fests’.  I know that facing one hard workout after another during the training season sure took it’s toll on the enthusiasm level.

The other tenet we embraced back in the olden days was ‘hard-easy-hard-easy’.  We knew that you couldn’t just keep on hammering your body day after day without tearing yourself up.  Now the perspective is one of ‘body adapting’.

That is another perspective that seems easier to stomach.  Whereas in the bad ole days we had the idea that we were giving our body a day of rest so that we could beat the crap out of it as soon as it got it’s breath back; I can now look at those off-days as the actual time period when the ‘real work’ is being done.

Those are the days when the strengthening happens.  Those are the days when the ‘stimulus package’ has been delivered, and the adaptation (a whole new faster, stronger, higher leaping animal) is taking place.

Now my little pea-sized brain is thinking through this idea of ‘stimulus’.  Is there no way to provide the stimulus without the mind searing pain?

I’ll be thinking it over, and if I come up with an idea I’ll keep it to myself.  I surely don’t want to give up any advantage I might have over my fierce cycling adversaries.

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Danny MacAskill Does San Francisco

I don’t know what it is about Danny MacAskill doing ‘trials riding’, but I’m a sucker for watching him defy the laws of friction (how does he ‘stick’ those landings so well?), rob the law of gravity from smugly punishing those who violate her principles, and seeming to extend the limits of how far a bike will go without peddling it.

In this video, Danny goes to San Francisco and does a bit of hill riding; jumping just about anything that can be jumped.  He then sets his sights on barriers, obstacles, and an assortment of other solid items that shouldn’t be subject to the tread on his tires…but is.

I’ve watched a lot of his videos and its the landings that blow me away.  I wonder if sticking those landings so precisely is a ‘one and done’ effort or if there are some epic fails.  It’s crazy to me that he can size up a gap between props and put just enough energy into the leap to plant the little patch of his rear wheel onto the little patch on the top of an unsuspecting railing, fountain, or statue with such precision.  How do he do dat?

Well what do you know…I found a video of some outtakes.  Plus, it seems that Danny is an introverted, awkward guy.  As a staunch opponent to the bravado style in entertainers and athletes, I find this to be refreshing.  Who would have thought that the famous Danny, doing broken-bone defying tricks would be shy and retiring?  Not me.

But I’m an even bigger fan now.

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Even Investment Bankers Will Watch Oprah

Dealbook.com is reporting that investment banker, Mr. Thomas Weisel (I wonder how you pronounce that one?) will be eagerly watching the Oprah show this Thursday.

And this is a man who sold his firm, Montgomery Securities, for $1.2 billion in 1997.  He later sold his firm, Thomas Weisel Partners in 2010 for $300 million.

You know, he’s nothing more than a common billionaire.

Thomas Weisel in 2002

In 2002 Thomas Weisel had a wall full of Lance Armstrong Jerseys…and a messy desk.

What on earth is happening here?

Most billionaires don’t watch Oprah, do they?

Well I guess they do when they may be caught up in threats from the Feds to look into whether or not the US Postal team (which Mr. Weisel largely financed) cheated the public out of money by riding their bikes under false pretenses (all doped up).  It’s called a ‘False Claims Act’.

And let me tell you one thing…if there’s anything our government won’t tolerate, its dishonesty.  I could hardly get that last sentence out!

This article on Dealbook.nytimes.com maintains that Mr. Weisel was the biggest financial banker behind the money that launched Lance Armstrong’s cycling career.  Since he may have known about the shenanigans of the US Postalites, he may have to sell off a private jet or two if he’s subject to the millions of bucks corporate sponsors are seeking from the group he helped to found, Tailwind Sports.

The corporations don’t like the fact that they have been making billions being associated with a team that wasn’t honest with them.

There’s another group demanding scrupulous ethics…corporations!

I can hardly continue…

  1. Billionaires watching Oprah.
  2. Governments demanding honesty.
  3. Corporations insisting on squeaky-clean ethics.

I’m feeling giddy right here at the keyboard.  Hoo Hoo, Ha ha .. I can’t stand it.

peed my pantsOh boy, now I’ve gone and wet myself.  I’ll be right back….

Back again. Where was I?

Anyway, Mr. Weisel was heavily involved in Mr. Armstrong’s career.  According to the article, Mr. Weisel went to the tour every year, rode in the team bus, ate vittles with the chaps, and even rode in the team car.  He was even given permission to yell instructions to Lance from the team car.

Here's how you yell from the car!

Here’s how you yell from the car!

“Ride fast, Lance”

“The fastest guy wins the race”

“Keep trying hard”

“Remember the Gipper”

Oh well, I don’t want to barf up all that I read over there at Dealbook. Go there and read the article yourself, if you want to .

Like a lot of folks, I’m more put off by the bullying and lying that the whole group did than by the fact that they joined in the doping.

It’s never made sense that Lance could single-handedly beat the rest of the world on his bike; riding clean while the other riders were all dirty.

Now it’s becoming apparent that he couldn’t single-handedly deceive the adoring masses without a host of enablers giving him money and a voice to destroy those who questioned his exploits.

So if Mr. Weisel was one of those on the team of enablers, he’ll be anxious to watch Oprah. He’s always been interested in Lance’s performances.  Why miss another one?

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Your Mission: Find Tightest Screw Setting

Back to the task at hand…let’s get those limit screws on your rear derailleur to the tightest setting; while still allowing for full access to all of the gears on your cassette.

Here's a rear derailleur cable stop!

Here’s a rear derailleur cable stop!

First, we’ll need to eliminate some confusion.  Is the problem with shifting the result of the limiting screws…or due to some indexing difficulties?  The way to eliminate the possibility of the problems being due to the indexing (shifters) is to eliminate them from the equation.

Here’s how you do it.  Shift onto the largest rear sprocket while pedaling.  Now, quit pedaling and shift back a few clicks. This will put some slack in the cable back by the rear derailleur.  You can now remove the cable housing out of the cable stop.  Now you’re set to ‘run through the gears’ manually by pulling on the cable without using the shifters.

Now it’s time to adjust the limiting screw that keeps the chain from falling off the bottom of the cassette.  Shift onto the largest front chain ring and the smallest rear sprocket.  If the chain falls off the smallest sprocket, you’ll need to tighten (turn it clockwise) the ‘H’ limiting screw.  Do this in small increments (quarter turns) until the chain behaves itself and stays on the cassette.

If you can’t get the chain onto the smallest sprocket at all, loosen (counter-clockwise) the ‘H’ screw a little bit at a time until it drops down into ‘high gear’.

Now it’s time to go after the side of the cassette nearest the spokes.  This is where real damage can occur; I mean serious damage.  Zombie-like damage, the likes from which real emotional torment emanates.  SPOKE DAMAGE!

You’ll need to shift onto the smallest chain ring on the front and the largest sprocket on the rear.  If you see that the chain is wanting to ride up over the largest sprocket on the rear, you’ll need to tighten (clockwise) the ‘L’ screw to restrict it.  If you can’t get the chain onto the largest sprocket, loosen the ‘L’ screw in increments of a quarter turn at a time to ease up the restriction.

To give it a test, put the cable housing back into the cable stop and pedal your way from large to small sprockets…and back again.

The whole procedure with the limiting screws isn’t very complicated, except if you don’t even know that limiting screws exist.  Then the whole rear derailleur is a total mystery since you’ll never figure out why ‘adjusting’ the gears doesn’t seem to work.  No matter how much you adjust, you’ll be hard pressed to ever get the chain onto the smallest or largest sprocket.

cool rear derailleur

Cool looking rear derailleur…nothing else noteworthy.

One of the things you’ll see if you don’t know about the limiting screws is a totally limp cable and a derailleur that still refuses to drop down into high gear.  Another phenomena is you cranking as hard as you can on the shifter in an attempt to get the chain onto the largest sprocket…but to no avail.

If you’re unfortunate, you will be strong enough to either break the shifter, or the cable.  And that’s an ‘avail’ you’d rather not discover.

So there you have a few words on the limiting screws of the rear derailleur.  I don’t know if the business of releasing the cable from the cable stop, and then shifting by pulling on the cable/cable housing in order to shift gears is very clear.  I could hardly understand my own description…so good luck to you!

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Smooth Shifting With Rear Derailleur Adjustments

That whole mess on your rear wheel can look pretty intimidating.  You know…ten sprockets bunched together in a cassette, spokes pointing out like rays from the sun, and then that mysterious rascal, the rear derailleur.

Don’t worry too much about the sprockets, although I have had times when I’ve broken a tooth or two off.  I sure felt like a fool after trying to eliminate all sorts of things like the rear derailleur adjustment (over and over again), only to find that the problem of missing teeth could have been easily detected by your everyday Obsessive/Compulsive.

You know, someone who’s really good at counting things like teeth on sprockets.

Looks Complicated…And I Suppose It Is!

Other than being a genuine distraction, the spokes aren’t much of a concern in the rear hub department either, as it relates to less-than-stellar shifting.

So we’re left with the rear derailleur.

Symptoms Of Rear Derailleur Dysfunction

1).  You might notice an abundance of noise when trying to shift.  Mucho noise, not much in the way of gear shifting satisfaction.  A dead giveaway!

2).  Not being able to get into all of the gears you need for cycling fulfillment.

3).  An ‘automatic transmission’ shifting pattern. This is when your gears seem to have a mind of their own.  They won’t stay put, and switch in the worst of situations without your input.

4).  Less than ‘snappy’ gear changing.  Sluggish gear shifting may be be OK for type B personalities, but revved up lads won’t put up with a slow gear change.

Starting Away From The Rear Derailleur

What if the problem’s remote from the derailleur itself?  Like in the cable going from the shifter to the rear derailleur, or in the housing around the cable?

Well my friend, check it out.

Run your fingers over the cable to make sure there aren’t any kinks in the cable, any fraying of the cable, or any other irregularities along the course of the cable.  Sounds pretty elementary, my dear Watson.

But then again sometimes the simplest of details can derail the most brilliant of minds…which I doubt you possess.  😯

Look To The Limit Screws

Much like in the front derailleur, there are limiting screws to keep the rear derailleur from launching your chain into the spokes, or off of the smallest sprocket.  It’s not too difficult to check out your limit screw adjustment.

Just shift through the gears, and if you’re having a hard time getting the chain onto either the largest or smallest sprocket…look to the screws.

These side-by-side screws should be marked ‘H’ and ‘L’.  But of course that’s only half the story; which one controls which gear?

Does ‘H’ stand for ‘high’, as in the gear highest away from the ground, and ‘L’ for ‘low’, as in lowest from the ground?  No my friend, no.

‘H’ stands for ‘high’ as in High Gear.  So that’s the one that controls what the chain does when the bike’s in high gear.  That is the smallest sprocket.  So if you tighten this screw you will be limiting how far the chain can drop down the cassette.

Too much tightness on the ‘H’ screw means you won’t be able to shift into high gear.  Too little tightness means you’ll dump your chain off into no man’s land between the smallest sprocket and the frame.

I’m sure you have the idea now.  The ‘L’ screw limits how far the chain will go toward the largest sprocket (low gear).  If the ‘L’ screw is too tight, you won’t be able to get into low gear, and if it’s too loose, you’ll shift the chain up and over into your spokes.

If you’ve removed your plastic spoke protector (plastic spoke detectors are to a bike what a plastic pocket detector is to an engineer) in order to not look like too much like an amateur, this can be most grievous.

But then again, walking around with a pocket protector or riding around with a plastic spoke detector has it’s downside too.

Think solitary dining in the company lunchroom.

Think solo rides on country roads…never benefiting from the group pace-line.

So work on those ‘limiting screws’ and achieve cycling social satisfaction.

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Adjusting Front Derailleur Part 2

Last time I went through the steps necessary to achieve front derailleur alignment, as well as getting the correct setting on the limiter screws.  Today’s little lesson is a mere check of the cable tension.

It won’t be much, but since no one’s reading this stuff, not much personal time will be wasted.

So here we go…

Start by putting your chain on the largest sprocket on the back and the smallest chain ring on the front.  Now take a wrench to the clamp bolt attaching the cable to the front derailleur.

Loosen the bolt.

You’ll may find that some cable slipped through the clamp (indicating that you had too much cable tension on the cable).  If you had some slack in the cable before you loosened the bolt, you didn’t have enough tension in the cable (your cable may have stretched over time).

Now you can pull the cable until it’s just snug and re-tighten the clamp bolt.

For fine-tuning, you can use the barrel tighteners on the cable housing.  On my bike there isn’t a barrel tightener for the front derailleur…there is one for the rear derailleur and for each of the brakes.  Your bike may be different.

For all barrel tighteners, you turn them counterclockwise to tighten the cable.  But it isn’t necessarily as easy as that…because counterclockwise is relative to which direction you’re pointing.

Here’s how I remember it… ‘unscrewing’ the barrel tightener tightens the cable and screwing it in loosens the cable.  Kind of an inverse deal.

When you unscrew the barrel tightener it pulls the cable away from the derailleur (or brake lever), which puts more tension (tightness) on the cable.

Before you take your trusty stead out onto the battlefield, you’ll want to shift between gears to make sure all is well.  If it still doesn’t work correctly, switch over to another cycling site that actually knows what they’re talking about pick your nose and look pensive.

If you see strands of cable that are frayed, feel smug. You’re one of the cyclists who have actually used their bikes enough to get some wear on them.

Let The Experts At Performance Bike Lead You Down The Path To Front Derailleur Contentment!

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Give A Little ‘Front Derailleur Love’

Today, we’re in the midst of a Pacific Ocean storm; battered by wind, rain, and what-not. And I’m thinking of…my front derailleur.

You’re right, that’s a load of bull.

I’m actually thinking of my birthday, which for those of you who don’t know, and even for those who do know, (but may have forgotten) will be here in one month.  Hindered only by that annoying distraction called Christmas.

After a cold slap to the face (my own), I’ve awakened out of my focus on ‘gift-giving revelry’, willing to attack the subject of adjusting the front derailleur of your bike.

From the exhilarating to the mundane.

Don’t Put Up With Dropped Chains…Adjust Your Derailleur

The good folks at Park Tools demonstrate proper derailleur height.

You’ve weathered the storm of my self-indulgence, so let’s get down to business.

Your front derailleur can be the source of all sorts of annoyance if it isn’t adjusted correctly.

You might drop a chain, essentially shifting your bike into ‘neutral’ just when your riding partner needs to be disciplined by you on a challenging climb.

Or you may be unable to shift at all at the exact moment your legs turn to jelly on the big ring and need a little ‘small chain love’.

Start With Looking At It…Duh!

Here’s something just about anyone can do.  Look at the thing and see if it’s too high, low, or maybe even twisted.

Shift the chain onto the large chain ring, and check to see if there is room for a penny to be slipped between the ring and the edge of the derailleur.  Check out the first picture (above) to see what I’m rambling on about.

On a lot of bikes, a derailleur that’s too high or too low can be adjusted by loosening up the bracket holding the derailleur to the seat post and re-positioning it.

While you’re at it, look at the derailleur to see if it is pointing in the direction your bike’s going.

You know, not twisted.

Once again, a picture’s worth a Zeppelin of my hot air so look at the Park Tool’s image above to visualize proper alignment.

‘Limit’ Screws Need Some Attention Too

There are two little screws, marked ‘L’ and ‘H’ on the derailleur.  If your chain isn’t having trouble shifting from chain ring to chain ring, and isn’t dropping off, leave these screws alone unless you’re a tinkering fool.

Limiting screws staring right at you!

But if your chain shifts too far when you’re downshifting, and drops off toward your seat tube, get out a small screw driver and head toward the little screw marked ‘L’ (I suppose it’s short for ‘Low’ gear).  You’ll want to tighten the screw a quarter turn and recheck the shifting to see if your efforts keep the chain on the small chain ring.  Keep adjusting in increments of a quarter turn until the limiting screw has been adequately tightened.

On the other hand, if your chain fights you when you’re trying to shift down from the large chain ring to the small, loosen the ‘L’ screw.  Your problem may be that your limiting screw is a bit too enthusiastic when doing its job of keeping your chain from traveling toward your seat tube.  Loosen it in increments of a quarter turn until the chain shifts onto the small chain ring, and stays there without rubbing the chain when you’re riding.

If you’re having trouble keeping the chain from shifting up and over the large chain ring toward the right pedal, it’s time to adjust the ‘H’ screw

Same concept…tighten in increments of a quarter turn until the chain doesn’t shift too far.  And of course, loosen in increments of quarter turns if the limiter screw is keeping your chain from shifting up onto the large chain ring entirely.

The next time I’m back here pecking away at the keyboard, I’ll say a few words about proper cable tension.

Oh the joy that’ll be headed your way!

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Getting Rid Of ‘Stiff Link’ Syndrome

If you’re experiencing pedaling irregularity, eat some prunes your bike may be suffering from ‘stiff link syndrome’.  Just to clarify…pedaling irregularity would be when your pedaling stroke isn’t smooth.  You know, there’s a mini-pause and a mini-acceleration in your chain speed.

Navigating a rear derailleur strikes fear in the heart of any chain.

If all of the links in your chain aren’t supple (really wanted to work that word in) they won’t all make it through the tightest of twists and turns in the chain journey without a pause and ‘jump’.

And the tightest turn is through the rear derailleur.

So how do you locate the stiff link?

If you don’t have a bike stand, you can turn your bike upside down and shift into the large chain ring on the front and the smallest sprocket on the back.

Now you’re forcing the chain through the tightest angles it’ll have to navigate on the rear derailleur, which is the smallest sprocket of the rear derailleur.  You’ve chosen the largest front chain ring so that you don’t complicate your diagnostics with cross chaining.

The stiff culprit will be the one that jumps and/or resists going through the derailleur.

What to do about it…

Work the offending link back and forth to get rid of the stiffness.

Sometimes all it takes is getting out the penetrating oil to work the link loose.  Or maybe you haven’t oiled your chain since high school, and a little oil would work magic.

But if common sense oiling doesn’t work, you can grab the offending link and work it back and forth side to side like in the picture.  This will free up most problems.  But if it doesn’t, you can move on to the chain tool.

What’s a chain tool?

Chain tool= miniature press!

Pretty simple… a chain tool is a little press that’s used to press out the pins that hold the chain together.

Here’s how you’ll use it to free up a stiff link-

  1. find the offending link (duh)
  2. on each of the pins, use the chain tool to press the pin a third of the way into the roller and then a third of the way back the other way.  You’ll have to remove the chain tool and switch it to the other side to get this done.
  3. use the chain tool to press the pin back to center.
  4. if this doesn’t get the job done… don’t be a cheapskate, consider getting a new chain.  It’s OK to spend a buck or two on your two wheeled steed now and then.

Intolerate chain stiffness

If you’re like me, you may be getting increasingly irritated with all of the intolerance of intolerance.  Why can’t a guy just enjoy some intolerance now and then?

I have to tolerate my renter who is hoarding her welfare check, buying lot’s of smokes, and not paying her rent.

I have to tolerate nudists in San Francisco.

I have to tolerate a whole lot of things in our free-for-all country.

But, I don’t have to tolerate ‘chain stiffness’.  Bike chains haven’t organized themselves into advocacy groups yet, so I direct my intolerant scorn at them…and I feel surprisingly good about it.

Give it a try.

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Does Massage and Hydration Flush Out Lactic Acid…No!

I just got back from reading a refreshing site which debunks a lot of pain management mumbo jumbo.  I’m a chiropractor, so I know there’s a lot of foolishness being propagated, both from within my profession as well as from others seeking to address the problem of pain within the human species.

As an aside…can you think of another species (besides clams and sloths) other than homo sapiens which can’t ambulate quicker than a walk for 15 minutes?  I’m thinking of the 99 percent of the population who haven’t run a mile since childhood…and maybe even not then, if they had already joined the ‘my thighs rub together when I run’ club while still a child.

No wonder we have so many aches and pains. Considering the sorry state of fitness the human species is in, we should expect MORE aches and pains than we experience.

Back to the subject of flushing out toxins…

We’ll start with a few words from a massage therapist in North Carolina, Laura Allen, who thinks that you shouldn’t just ‘say stuff’ solely because you’re parroting someone else, who’s parroting someone else, who’s parroting someone else…(I guess she’s never listened to our Vice President, who just ‘says stuff’).

I like the way Paul Ingraham over at saveyourself.ca searches the scientific literature to validate or invalidate the many claims made by practitioners in the pain management world.

Regarding the flushing out of metabolic wastes (Lactic acid being the one most commonly sited), here’s Paul on the subject, “Metabolic by-products are not just nasty chemicals pooped out by cells that just hang around, stuck in tissue, waiting for your friendly neighbourhood massage therapist to come along and flush them away.”

Here’s What Lactic Acid Looks Like!

I like that, maybe because it speaks of cell poop, which appeals to the adolescent in me.

If you read through his article down to the fifth section, some of your notions of lactic acid and muscle soreness may be challenged…to say nothing about any ideas of massage and hydration being critical in the removal of the lactic acid boogeyman.

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