The Truth About Kinesio Taping

Kinesiology tape has been around for many years in the clinical setting, and has gained popularity recently after its use in high-profile Olympic athletes. While many clinicians and patients offer anecdotal evidence to support its use, kinesiology tape evidence remains controversial. Interestingly, there are over 250 published studies on kinesiology taping…so what’s the problem? Aside from the lack of high quality randomized controlled trials (it’s hard to create a placebo tape!), misinformation on how kinesiology taping works has been perpetuated in many ‘how to’ courses and books…not to mention advertisements!

First of all, we know that kinesiology tape works in reducing pain. In a recent meta-analysis, kinesiology tape was shown to significantly reduce chronic musculoskeletal pain (Lim & Tay, 2015), but the specific mechanism is unknown. The pain reduction is also minimal and short-lasting. Kinesiology tape is thought to reduce pain through the gate-control theory; the sensation of tape on the skin is thought to ‘override’ pain signals in the brain.

However, there is little to no evidence to support its use for other things like acute swelling or performance enhancement…clinicians (and tape manufacturers!) need to be careful in making claims that aren’t substantiated with research.

Unfortunately, kinesiology tape clinical application has been based on theory rather than science, which may be one reason for conflicting results in the literature. Many clinicians have spent time and money taking courses to get certified in how to apply kinesiology tape…but is it necessary? Do we know enough about the true mechanism of action of this ‘magic’ tape to make specific ‘rule’s on its application? Test your knowledge of kinesiology tape application with these 3 true/false questions:

Truth or False?

Applying the tape in a certain direction can change muscle activation.

False. The direction of tape application does not change muscle activation or strength. Two separate studies (Cai et al. 2016; Vercelli et al. 2012) comparing the direction of tape application on muscle and EMG confirmed that the direction of application doesn’t matter. In fact, both studies found no increase in muscle strength in healthy subjects compared to without kinesiology taping.

Specific kinesiology tape tensions produce specific effects.

False. Kinesiology tape tension is probably important for application, but the exact amounts remain unknown. While lower tape tensions are associated with stronger effects (Lim & Tay 2015), specific ranges of tension for specific effects (i.e., 15-35% for “muscle facilitation”) have not been proven. Furthermore, Craighead et al. (2015) found increased skin blood flow under kinesiology tape regardless of the tension applied. Therefore, kinesiology tape tensions are just recommendations, not fact!

Convolutions created by kinesiology tape are needed to lift the skin and improve circulation.

False. There is no published evidence that kinesiology tape actually lifts the skin. In fact, a recent randomized controlled trial found that the convolutions in tape weren’t necessary for successful outcomes in low back pain (Parreira, et al. 2014). Only one study (Craighead et al. 2015) has actually shown increased skin blood flow under kinesiology tape application (which was applied without convolutions!); however, no studies have evaluated blood flow effects below the superficial skin.

Specific patterns of kinesiology tape application are needed for specific diagnoses.

False. There is no evidence comparing specific individual patterns of application in specific diagnoses. Unfortunately, many several studies on the same pathology (such as impingement) often use different patterns between studies. The efficacy of specific application patterns over other patterns for specific diagnoses remains to be proven.

Obviously, there’s a lot of misinformation and bogus claims out there. You don’t have to take a certification course or remember things like which direction or tension you need to apply kinesiology tape for your patients. Based on the research, the direction of application doesn’t matter and small amounts of tension are beneficial. And there is no evidence comparing different patterns of application to prove one is better than the other!

This lack of research doesn’t mean kinesiology tape doesn’t work…it just means that a better understanding of how kinesiology tape works will help develop better interventions, and help us learn which patients and conditions are appropriate for taping. It’s important to note that only half of the research published on kinesiology taping is on actual patients! You need to remember that research on healthy populations may not apply to patient populations.

In summary, kinesiology tape can reduce musculoskeletal pain, although the effect generally lasts less than a week. There is no consistent evidence that specific directions, tensions, or patterns of application affect outcomes. More research is needed on muscle activation, circulatory, and proprioceptive mechanisms and outcomes of kinesiology tape, particularly in patient populations.


Want to learn more about evidence-based kinesiology tape application? Watch my course on Medbridge to hear the evidence and learn a simple method of applying TheraBand Kinesiology Tape based on the best available evidence. Use the promo code THERABANDpage to receive a discount on your annual MedBridge membership!



Cai C et al. 2016. Facilitatory and inhibitory effects of Kinesio tape: Fact or fad? J Sci Med Sport.19(2):109-12.

Craighead et al. 2015. Kinesiology tape increases cutaneous microvascular blood flow independent of tape tension (Abstract). Proceedings of the 17th annual TRAC Meeting. Vancouver, BC. July 29-31, 2015. p. 17

Lim EC, Tay MG 2015. Kinesio taping in musculoskeletal pain and disability that lasts for more than 4 weeks: is it time to peel off the tape and throw it out with the sweat? A systematic review with meta-analysis focused on pain and also methods of tape application. Br J Sports Med 49:1558-1566

Vercelli SS, et al. 2012. Immediate Effects of Kinesiotaping on Quadriceps Muscle Strength: A Single-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial. Clin J Sports Med.22(4):319-326.

Parreira, et al. 2014. Kinesio Taping to generate skin convolutions is not better than sham taping for people with chronic non-specific low back pain: a randomised trial. J Physiother.60(2):90-96.


Written by Phil Page PhD, PT, ATC, CSCS, FACSM


Looking to bring awareness to kinesiotaping.
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC

Electronics To The Rescue: Bad Posture? Let Electronics Nag You

Written By Rachel Crane For CNN:

For as long as I can remember, my mother has badgered me about my posture.

She did everything she could to try straighten me out as a young adult. There were the posture-correcting ballet classes, the personal trainer, the physical therapy. But all the pestering and pirouetting couldn’t fight the forces of screen strain: the spine-crushing laptop and the neck-protruding smartphone.
The result? My posture is simply horrendous, borderline-gargoyle awful and I’m stuck with chronic back and neck pain.
My hunched shoulders and I are not alone. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, about 60% to 80% of the adult US population suffers from low back pain, making it the second most common reason people go to the doctor.
According to New York-based posture coach, Lindsey Newitter, poor posture can cause serious back pain: “Your head is heavy, it weighs 10 to 12 pounds. A lot of us, when we are looking at our screens, our eyes strain and then our neck strains and it pulls our heads down into our spines. It’s what we call head forward posture. The farther away your head gets from your center with that downward pressure, the more intense the pressure actually is. It’s a lot of weight compressing your spine.”
Even if bad posture isn’t the direct culprit behind one’s back pain, good posture is almost always recommended to help ease it.
According to physical therapist Dr. Karena Wu, “posture is a huge component of rehabilitation and life. We always tell patients to be more conscious of their posture which means it is a mental decision similar to a diet, like a lifestyle change.”
Additionally, recent studies have linked posture to mood, memory, behavior, and self esteem. One study recently published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry showed that when made to sit upright, people battling mild to moderate depression saw their condition improve.

Straighten up!

While perfect posture might make one feel more powerful and energetic, achieving it is easier said than done. For me, sitting and standing “properly” is downright exhausting and feels like a workout. But of course, like most things now, there is an app for that.
A simple search in the app store for “posture” will generate dozens of apps designed to help you achieve proper alignment. With names such as PostureScreen, PostureZone, Posture Aware and iRehab, they all intend to help users with body awareness and strength through personalized exercises, reminders, trackers and videos.
One such offering, Lumo Lift, is unique because it is paired with a wearable device specifically designed to correct your stance. The sensor, which costs $79.99, magnetically attaches to your clothes and buzzes every time you slouch. It also connects to an app on your smartphone so you can track your posture habits over time.
“We were really designed to be hunters and gatherers, our bodies were designed to move,” said Lumo Lift’s founder Monisha Perkash. “But instead, because of all these computers and gadgets, we’re sitting and sitting poorly, or standing and standing poorly, and that creates a posture problem.”
But Perkash believes there is hope for our spines. “Our bodies are adaptive to both positive and negative influences. In the same way that if you’ve slouched for long periods of time your body takes that on as the norm, you can also reverse that and teach it what is good posture. And after a while the muscle memory kicks in and you don’t even have to think about it anymore.”
However, Dr. Wu does not believe posture devices and apps are the exclusive antidote to our nation’s hunching problems.
“The risks of relying on a device, you have to remember to charge it, you have to remember to put it on and actually use it,” she said. “One can ignore sensory stimuli once you get used to it; you can just blow right through and just stay in your position because you know you have to get work done.”
She believes achieving good posture health requires a conscious effort to sit up with good upright.
There are some low-tech approaches to forming those good posture habits, like the Alexander Method. The Alexander Method is a process that helps realign posture mindfully. It’s often used by performers, and often involves a coach.
Newitter teaches the Alexander Method and like Dr. Wu finds posture apps and devices to be limited in their impact. “I find some of the high-tech methods aren’t getting to the source of the issue, which is habit and people not being able to actually sense what is happening in their bodies when their posture is off.”
However, Newitter believes that when coupled with lifestyle changes and mindful approaches to working on posture these devices and apps make a long lasting impact on a person’s posture health. “The reminder device can actually be very helpful.” Essentially, these devices and apps take on the role of nagging mom.
My experience with wearing Lumo Lift was sobering. I’ve always been aware of my hunched silhouette, but the constant buzzing really hammered home just how extreme it is. I’m not wearing the device everyday. I misplace it. I forget to charge it. And most days I simply just don’t feel like wearing it.
But the buzzing experience has made me hyper aware of correcting myself, of being my own posture police if you will. And my desire to straighten myself out has never been greater.
A possibility for postural correction…
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC

Doing Shoulder Strengthening? Here Is A Quick Shoulder Warm-Up With Elastic Bands

I’ve given many of you a shoulder strengthening protocol with elastic bands that works really well.  BUT, here is an great add-on activity that does not take long.  It’s your shoulder warm-up before you do any shoulder strengthening.

Doing banded shoulder exercises doesn’t need to be confusing or complicated. The reality is, in most shoulder exercises, you are working a ton of the muscles around your shoulder, just in different percentages of their maximal ability to contract.

But what should you be doing exactly? Should you be doing a shoulder warm-up?

Using the series of banded exercises in this video, which I call the Banded Shoulder Sevens, will prepare the shoulder and upper back muscles likely as well as any other banded shoulder exercises, except it’s simple and easy to remember.

You can of course add to the banded shoulder sevens with other things like lat work, cat/cow, thoracic foam rolling, etc if needed and depending on what your workout is for the day.

But to do some ‘activation work’ and start preparing the muscles of the shoulders and upper back, it doesn’t need to be confusing

The Banded Shoulder Sevens Examples


Looking to provide a elastic band shoulder warm-up,

Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC

Harvard’s Medical Advice For Back Pain: Drop The Medication And Seek CHIROPRACTIC First

Written by Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications


It’s a question that has challenged generations of patients and their doctors. The answer has changed over the years. When I was in medical school in the early 1980s, bedrest for a week or more was often recommended for severe back pain. This sometimes included hospital admission. Then, research demonstrated that prolonged bedrest was actually a bad idea. It was no better (and often worse) than taking it easy for a day or two followed by slowly increasing activity, including stretching and strengthening the back.

Medications, including pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxants were a standard part of the initial treatment of back pain. But, recommendations released in February 2017 urge doctors to change their approach to back pain once again.

Didn’t I just hear that NSAIDs don’t work well for back pain?

You did. A recent study found that NSAIDs did not work well for back pain. But, new recommendations take that conclusion even further: it may be best to avoid medications altogether — at least at the start.

The American College of Physicians has just come out with new guidelines for the treatment of low back pain based on a review of more than 150 studies. The big news? Medications tend to have only temporary and modest benefits, so it makes sense to try something other than a pill. The specifics depend on the type and duration of back pain.

For new low back pain (lasting less than 12 weeks), try:

  • heat
  • massage
  • acupuncture
  • spinal manipulation, as with chiropractic care.

If these don’t work, NSAIDs or a muscle relaxant are reasonable options. But given their potential to cause side effects and their modest benefit, they aren’t the first choice.

For chronic low back pain (lasting 12 weeks or more), try:

  • exercise (including stretching, improving balance, and strengthening core muscles)
  • physical therapy
  • acupuncture
  • mindfulness-based programs intended to cope with or reduce stress.

Other approaches, such as tai chi, yoga, or progressive relaxation techniques may also be helpful.

If these don’t work, treatment with NSAIDs, tramadol, or duloxetine is worth consideration. However, opioids should be considered only if other measures have failed and only after a thorough review of potential benefits and risks with your doctor.

It’s important to emphasize these suggestions are for low back pain that might begin after an unusually strenuous workout or shoveling snow. It’s not for serious causes of back pain such as a major injury, cancer, infection, or fractures (see “red flag” symptoms below).

What if the pain continues?

If pain persists despite these non-medication and medication-based treatments, your doctor may want to consider additional tests (such as MRI) or treatments. Remember, each person’s situation is a little different, and even medications that don’t work well on average, may work well for you.

You could see this coming?

It’s been known for years that the vast majority of low back pain goes away on its own, regardless of treatment. So, the challenge has been to find something that safely eases symptoms while waiting for improvement.

How do I know it’s nothing serious?

You don’t. But, you should be reassured that the numbers are with you. Ninety-nine percent or more of people with low back pain do not have a serious cause. But to help make sure your back isn’t in that small sliver of dangerous causes, doctors use the “red flag” questions:

  • Have you ever been diagnosed with cancer?
  • Have you experienced unexplained or unintentional weight loss?
  • Do you have an abnormal immune system (due to disease or medications)?
  • Do you use intravenous drugs?
  • Have you had a fever recently?
  • Have you had significant injury to your back recently?
  • Have you had bladder or bowel incontinence?

These questions and a physical examination are intended to identify factors that would increase the chances that your back pain is due to infection, tumor, or other serious cause.

So, what?

These new guidelines endorse an approach to treating a common ailment that only a few years ago would have seemed outrageous. The remedies recommended are not brand new; but discouraging medication use as an initial step is a big departure from prior recommendations. An email alert I received just after these guidelines were published included the headline: “Take two yoga classes and call me next month?” It may not be such a bad idea!

Medical practice rarely changes right away, and these guidelines may have relatively little impact in the short run. But I would not be surprised if non-pharmacological treatment of back pain becomes the norm over time. Many of my patients already seek out these treatments regardless of whether I recommend them. After all, the “usual” medications for low back pain are not all that effective and often cause trouble. It’s time we recognize that there are other, better ways to help.


It has been years now that research has suggested we use chiropractic first.  Drop the medicine bottles and schedule an appointment.  See you soon,

Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC

Chocolate Figs Recipe

Let’s enjoy a little bit of chocolate, shall we? Dark chocolate that is sweetened with zero-calorie stevia (rather than refined sugar) is an innocent way to get your chocolate fix without throwing your fitness results away. If you’re a chocolate lover then give this low sugar chocolate a try, and swap it out for sugar-loaded chocolate whenever possible.

While fresh figs are surely sweet enough on their own, dipping them in dark chocolate makes an elegant, pretty dessert. And it’s a wonderful way to enjoy a bite of chocolate!

Courtesy of local personal trainer Brien Shamp from

Servings: 18

Here’s what you need

  • 9 oz stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips, 55% cocoa (Lily’s brand)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 18 fresh, ripe figs


  1. Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan and place in a skillet with an inch of water. Heat over medium, stirring often until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Wash the figs and cut off the tough stems. Prepare a large plate or tray by covering with parchment paper. Dip the figs in the chocolate and place on the prepared plate. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  3. Dip a fork into the remaining melted chocolate and make drizzle lines across the chocolate covered figs. Return to the fridge to harden. Eat within a day or two. Enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis

116 calories, 5g fat, 19g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, 1mg sodium, 4g fiber, and 2g protein.

I hope that you get a chance to give this recipe a try this week. Remember that I’m only a call or email away to assist you in all things health & fitness. And if you are not yet one of my prized clients then call or email me now to set up your first strategy session – I’d love to help you achieve your best self ever!

For more recipes like this check out our recipe area here: Recipes

Figs?  Chocolate?  I’m sold,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC

Correlation Between Jaw Pain and Headaches

Association Between Severity of Temporomandibular Disorders and the Frequency of Headache Attacks in Women With Migraine: A Cross-Sectional Study

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
Lidiane Lima Florencio, MD', Anamaria Siriani de Oliveira, PhD,
Gabriela Ferreira Carvalho, MD,Fabiola Dach, PhD,Marcelo Eduardo Bigal, PhD,
César Fernández-de-las-Peñas, PhD,Débora Bevilaqua-Grossi, PhD



The aim of this study was to investigate the magnitude of association of the severity of temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) in women with episodic and chronic migraine.


Thirty-one women with episodic migraine (mean age: 33 years), 21 with chronic migraine (mean age: 35 years) and 32 healthy controls (mean age: 31 years) were included. The Fonseca Anamnestic Index was applied to assess severity of TMDs. TMD severity was considered as follows: no TMD (0-19 points), mild TMD (20-49 points), moderate TMD (50-69 points), and severe TMD (70-100 points). To compare the proportion of TMD severity among groups, a χ2 test was performed. Prevalence ratio (PR) was calculated to determine the association of TMD severity and both migraine groups using the control group as the reference.


Women with chronic and episodic migraine were more likely to exhibit TMD signs and symptoms of any severity than healthy controls (χ2 = 30.26; P < .001). TMD prevalence was 54% for healthy controls, 78% for episodic migraine, and 100% for chronic migraine. Women with chronic migraine exhibited greater risk of more severe manifestations of TMD than healthy controls (PR: 3.31; P = .008). This association was not identified for episodic migraine (PR: 2.18; P = .101).


The presence of TMD signs and symptoms was associated with migraine independently of the frequency; however, the magnitude of the association of more severe TMD was significantly greater in chronic, but not episodic, migraine.

Bringing awareness to this correlation,

Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC

New Statistic: 70% Of Those With Low Back Pain Still First See A Medical Doctor. Why???

Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll Finds Prescription Painkillers Most Common Treatment for Patients Seeking Care for Back Pain

More than half of Americans suffer from back pain, and for those who seek treatment, doctors turn most often to prescription drugs


Ann Arbor, MI, May 19, 2017 — Many Americans (51 percent) have experienced back pain in the past 12 months, and of the 58% of those who sought treatment from a medical professional, 40 percent said they were recommended prescription painkillers, according to the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll.Truven Health Analytics®, part of the IBM Watson Health business, and NPR conduct a nationwide bimonthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues. Following are the poll’s key findings:

  • Back Pain Plagues Americans: Fifty one percent of Americans said they have suffered from back pain in the last 12 months, and 46 percent of those who experienced pain said they are still in discomfort. More than half (58 percent) of back pain sufferers sought care, with 70 percent visiting a medical doctor and 14 percent visiting a chiropractor.
  • Prescription Pain Killers are the Most Common Treatment: Of the 70 percent of back pain sufferers who sought care from a medical doctor, 40 percent were prescribed prescription pain killers, a rate that tended to decrease with increasing age of the patient. Other treatments prescribed were exercise/physical therapy (31 percent), injections (20 percent), massage (17 percent), steroids (17 percent), over-the-counter painkillers (13 percent), surgery (12 percent), or some other form of treatment (37 percent).
  • Nearly a Third Remain in Pain, Even with Treatment: Among all respondents, 25 percent said their back pain stayed the same and five percent said their pain got worse. Forty-five percent said their pain improved, and 25 percent said it went away completely.

“Experiencing back pain is very common among Americans, and there are a number of factors that can contribute to it, some of which are treatable without prescription pain killers, ” said Anil Jain, MD, Vice-President and Chief Health Informatics Officer, Value-Based Care, IBM Watson Health. “These data show that when the patients do seek care, they are often prescribed pain-killers. Compounding this challenge, back pain sufferers who are prescribed opioids for pain may be particularly at risk for dependency and addiction. Curbing inappropriate opioid prescriptions for chronic pain is a focus of efforts by providers to combat the current opioid epidemic.” To date, the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, vaccines, data privacy, narcotic painkillers, and sports-related concussions. NPR archives reports on the surveys online at the Shots health blog here. Truven Health maintains a library of poll results here. The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Truven Health PULSE® survey, an independently funded, nationally representative, multimodal poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare use from 80, 000 U.S. households annually. The results depicted from the 2017 survey represent responses from 3, 002 survey participants interviewed from March 1 – 16, 2017. The margin of error is +/- 1.8 percentage points.About NPR
NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 900 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public—one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.


About Truven Health Analytics, part of the IBM Watson Health Business

Truven Health Analytics®, part of the IBM Watson Health™ business, provides market-leading performance improvement solutions built on data integrity, advanced analytics and domain expertise. For more than 40 years, our insights and solutions have been providing hospitals and clinicians, employers and health plans, state and federal government agencies, life sciences companies and policymakers, the facts they need to make confident decisions that directly affect the health and well-being of people and organizations in the US and around the world. The company was acquired by IBM in 2016 to help form a new business, Watson Health. Watson Health aspires to improve lives and give hope by delivering innovation to address the world’s most pressing health challenges through data and cognitive insights.

Truven Health Analytics owns some of the most trusted brands in healthcare, such as MarketScan®, 100 Top Hospitals®, Advantage Suite®, Micromedex®, Simpler® and ActionOI®. Truven Health has its principal offices in Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, IL and Denver, CO.

Bringing awareness to the community opioid epidemic,

Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC

Heard Of The 5:2 Diet? How It Prevents Cognitive Decline and Diabetes…

I’m on the 5:2 diet,” actor Benedict Cumberbatch told the (London) Times. “You have to, for Sherlock.” That’s his hit BBC and PBS series. Cumberbatch, and most other celebrities who have used the 5:2 diet, do so to lose (or not gain) weight.

Why? “For many people, it’s easier to not eat much on two days of the week and eat normally– but not overeat — on five days, versus counting calories at every meal,” says Mark Mattson, chief of the laboratory of neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging.

As it turns out, the 5:2 diet—also called the 2-day diet or intermittent fasting—may do more than trim your waistline.

“In animal models, intermittent fasting increases the resistance of cells to various types of stress and disease,” says Mattson. But the human evidence in favor of on-and-off fasting is just emerging.


On-and-off fasting may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes not just by shrinking waistlines but by keeping the body’s insulin in good working order. That’s what happened in two studies, each on roughly 100 overweight or obese women.

“Half cut 25 percent of their calories every day, and half ate only 650 calories a day for two days per week” and didn’t cut calories on the other five days, says co-author Mattson.

After three to six months, “each group had lost about the same amount of weight,” he notes. “But the women on the 5:2 diet had better insulin function.”

And insulin matters.

Poor insulin function is “at the root of many weight-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and possibly dementia,” wrote Michelle Harvie and Tony Howell in The 2 Day Diet.

The researchers, both at the Manchester Breast Centre in England, led the two studies in women.


“When you inject cancer cells under the skin of mice, alternate-day fasting slows the growth of the tumor cells,” says Mattson.

It’s not clear why. One possibility: “Almost all cancer cells use glucose as their energy source, so the fasting state is not ideal for cancer cells because the glucose levels are low,” explains Mattson. But studies in people are just starting.

“British researchers are putting women who have breast cancer on intermittent fasting diets throughout the entire five-month course of their chemotherapy treatments,” says Mattson. “The prediction is that intermittent fasting will enhance the effectiveness of the chemotherapeutic drugs by making cancer cells more vulnerable. And fasting may protect normal cells from the adverse effects of chemotherapy.”


In a study on mice engineered to get an Alzheimer’s-like disease, the animals performed better on memory tests—how to find a hidden platform in water, for example—when put on diets that cut calories daily or every other day than when eating an unlimited diet.

And healthy mice that were fed few calories for four days twice a month did better on memory tests than mice that never fasted.

“Animals on intermittent fasting are more alert than animals that have constant access to food,” notes Mattson. “And they have increased activity in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory.”

That makes sense, given that animals in the wild are hungry most of the time. “It’s normal for cougars to go a week without eating anything, so they’re burning fat,” explains Mattson. “And their brains have to work well, so they can figure out how to track down their prey.”

What about evidence in humans?

“We’re about halfway through a study on people aged 55 to 70 who are at risk for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease because of their age and because they are obese and insulin resistant,” says Mattson. Half are on the 5:2 diet, while half are getting the usual advice for healthy eating.

“Before they start and two months later, we do a battery of tests to look at learning and memory,” says Mattson.

If the 5:2 dieters do better, it will take another study to know if that’s due to fasting or just having lost weight.

What to do until we know more?

“The first thing is to make sure you’re not overweight or obese,” says Tufts’ Susan Roberts, “because there’s a legion of studies that show that carrying excess body fat is unhealthy for all kinds of reasons.”

And if you find it easier to slash calories two days a week than to make smaller cuts every day, why not try it?

“To my knowledge, there is no evidence that intermittent fasting has adverse effects on healthy people unless they’re a young child or a frail older person,” says Mattson. (Granted, on-and-off fasting hasn’t been tested in studies lasting longer than six months.)

What if you’re not overweight or obese?

“The research so far indicates that some caloric restriction is very likely to be healthy even if you’re already normal weight,” says Roberts. That is, unless you end up too thin.

Sources: Int. J. Obes. 35: 714, 2011; Br. J. Nutr. 110: 1534, 2013; Sci. Transl. Med. 2012. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3003293; Neurobiol. Dis. 26: 212, 2007; Cell Metab. 22: 86, 2015.


Written by David Schardt for Science In The Public Interest


Bringing attention to this diet,

Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC

Having A Shorter Leg Can Lead To Low Back And Hip Arthritis

Association of Mild Leg Length Discrepancy and Degenerative Changes in the Hip Joint and Lumbar Spine

Journal of Manipulative Therapeutics
Kelvin J. Murray, BAppSc(Chiro),Tom Molyneux, BAppSc(Chiro),Michael R. Le Grande, MPH,Aurora Castro Mendez, DPM, PhD,Franz K. Fuss, MD, PhD,Michael F. Azari, BAppSc(Chiro), PhD



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the correlation between mild leg length discrepancy (LLD) and degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis.


We evaluated standard postural lumbopelvic radiographs from 255 adults (121 women and 134 men) who had presented with spinal pain for chiropractic care. Symmetry of femoral head diameters was used to exclude magnification errors. Pearson’s partial correlation was used to control for age and derive effect sizes for LLD on DJD in the hip and lower lumbar motion segments. Krippendorff’s α was used for intraobserver and interobserver reliability.


A strong correlation was found between LLD and hip DJD in men (r = 0.532) and women (r = 0.246). We also found a strong correlation between LLD and DJD at the L5-S1 motion segment in men (r = 0.395) and women (r= 0.246). At the L4-5 spinal level this correlation was much attenuated in men (r = 0.229) and women (r = 0.166).


These findings suggest an association between LLD and hip and lumbar DJD. Cause–effect relationships between mild LLD and DJD deserve to be properly evaluated in future longitudinal cohort studies.


Interested in leg length shortness and it’s consequences,

Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC