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Grip Strength and Aging


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Well Vibram just settled that case about their claims toward health benefits which they could not prove. However, if we forget about correlation and causation I think that Captain of Crush grippers should come out with something to the effect of: "We are better than statins".

as far as the report goes, no surprise there.

regards,

Frederik

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Well Vibram just settled that case about their claims toward health benefits which they could not prove.

This was kind of unfortunate. I only saw one report that even vaguely suggested that people should take some personal responsibility for thinking they could just throw out their padded shoes and run the same distances they always have with vibrams without any additional prep. Most of the reports I saw just said something to the effect of 'vibrams will destroy your knees!'.

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This was kind of unfortunate. I only saw one report that even vaguely suggested that people should take some personal responsibility for thinking they could just throw out their padded shoes and run the same distances they always have with vibrams without any additional prep. Most of the reports I saw just said something to the effect of 'vibrams will destroy your knees!'.

Yes, I agree - it only emphasizes the stupidity of our society. That being said I am not sure, that I am in favour of companies making claims at all. Vibram or otherwise. Level headed people should probably not listen to the claims made by companies, or make it their only source of information about a product.

Do your own research, make up your mind and act accordingly. That does not make neither grippers or five fingers inappropriate, I am just not sure they are unequivocally "good" in all people, all the time.

cheers,

Frederik

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Coming back to the original article, on strength and ageing: as someone who is getting older (unlike the rest of you) I am interested in loss of muscle strength in ageing. This is a major issue (called sarcopenia), and steps have to be taken to slow the process, as part of healthy ageing. The loss of strength in the elderly (70+) is eventually extremely debilitating.

Thank you for posting this very interesting article (the original study can be read at http://www.plosone.o...al.pone.0096289).

The main points of the paper referred to was that (1) muscle strength can be used as an easily assessible marker for biological ageing, including cognitive decline, (2) it is a predictor of mortality from quite a young age, and (3) more highly educated people age more slowly.

Point (3) is not surprising - we know that people with better socio-economic status live longer and tend to be more healthy, and education and socio-economic status are correlated. In one way, point (1) is not surprising really either, if we think that strength declines with age, just as most other things decline with age. In another way, however, it is very surprising, as in many of the studies quoted it appears that grip strength has started declining (or was always low) before other signs of ageing are obvious. And (2) is an extreme example of this - poor grip strength in early adulthood is a marker for earlier mortality many years later (I presume that this is not due to a few very unhealthy outliers, as it seems that these were excluded from that study).

So what this implies is that poor grip strength is not just due to ageing; rather, there are ongoing biological processes which mean some people always have weak muscles, and that the same processes means that they age more quickly (by the way, the differences disappear in the very old; that is probably because the weak people are mostly dead by then).

What could these ongoing biological processes (present since early adulthood at least) be? They could be anything – for instance, prevalence of or responsiveness to growth factors, or health of the mitochondria, due to variations in the inherited mitochondrial DNA (which will tend to affect all body processes). In terms of protecting the body during aging, it is not possible to draw any conclusions from the paper. Put in another way, cause and effect are not separated in this paper, which deals with correlations.

However, what do we know about protecting the body from loss of muscle mass in ageing, i.e. from sarcopenia? In one way, there is not much we can do, as the decline will continue anyway as we get older (but we can slow the process – as we can slow ageing - by living healthily, and in particular, by not smoking, keeping the cardiovascular system healthy, avoiding excess alcohol, keeping active generally, keeping the correct weight, and having a properly varied diet).

In another way though we can, because people with more muscle mass have more muscle to lose, so do not reach the same degree of debility as people who start with less muscle mass. Apparently it is still possible to either add muscle mass, or slow the decline, at any age (though some reports suggest that it gets more difficult as you get older). In other words, it is worth doing weights (resistance training) at any age. The weights apparently have to be maximal – i.e. as for hypertrophy – at about 70-80% of your maximum (1RM) for just a few repetitions.

As I hate doing weights, this is not a conclusion I like. However, as sarcopenia sets in, I will probably hate doing weights even more, so had better get started soon.

(Interesting quote from the paper: “the authors found that low hand-grip strength among the adolescents was also predictive of the development of subsequent psychological problems.” Something the old-guard of school-masters knew all along of course - suspicious of the boys with a weak handshake.)

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How often have you heard me talk about the importance of grip strength...

Single arm hangs for time off a bar or off rings are immensely helpful in this regard (for strength and flexibility). MH and I are working on 30" sets presently. I feel I can get to 60".

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There are two separate issues here. Grip strength was used in the study, because it is an easily assessible monitor for the general muscular state of the person. There is no suggestion that specifically training grip strength will increase longevity. However, of course high grip strength is a good idea anyway, for many reasons.

The study with Swedish adolesents used a number of different monitors. Elbow flexion strength (presumably mainly biceps) was not correlated with longevity or later problems. Knee extension strength (quads) was correlated, although the correlation with later psychiatric problems was clearer with grip strength. Another point in the study, was that the corelations were seen only in the lower 40% of the strength range - that is, the weaker the muscles were, the worse your outcomes, but only if your muscular strength was in the bottom 40% of the range. There was no correlation among individuals in the top 60% of the strength range (which probably appies to most of the people reading this board).

The authors of the Swedish paper speculated on the possible causes, and suggest that cardiovascular fitness was the underlying factor. Poor cardiovascular health is also apparenty associated with later psychiatric problems, including the development of schizophrenia (surprisingly I think). However, interestingly, there was no association with later cancer in the study (as long as the subject was not very obese). As the later development of cancer is another measure of overall healthiness, that means that the association does not apply to all mechanisms of health. But the association with cardiovascular fitness was only speculative.

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