Clinical Rehabilitation and HRV with Greg Elliott
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Episode Resources and Links
In This Episode
Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Kinesiologist, and Osteopath in training, Greg Elliott shares his experience quantifying and optimizing his patients’ health (and some athletes as well)!
- The clinical application of Heart Rate Variability
- How HRV evolve from fitness to health
- Predicting sickness
- Integrating HRV into a holistic health practice
- The HRV checklist – what areas you can target to improve HRV and health
- HRV client consultations – the importance of the emotional and personal
- HRV pain & motor learning
- HRV predicting patient recovery time
- How mindset impacted a spinal injury recovery and HRV
- HRV as an emotional map for anxiety or depression
- Performance makes health sexier
- Multiple Sclerosis cooling suits
Jason Moore: Episode 1. Greg Elliott joins us to kick this season off. Greg is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Kinesiologist out of Vancouver, Canada. As you’ll see, he works in a really unique environment with many other professionals that cover the holistic picture of health and performance.
His company, G-Tech Health & Performance, primarily consults with and works out of the Copeman Health Center and Fit to Train, they’re in Vancouver. And they tackle nutrition, movement, exercise physiology, physical rehab, they have traditional medical doctors, they do osteopathy, a wide range of services under one roof. And as Greg puts it, they measure everything from functional movement screening and SFMA to blood testing to heart rate variability to family history and emotional and subjective measures. They actually measure a wide variety of things. And clients include everyone from folks with a manual labor background to lawyers and pro athletes like the Vancouver Canucks and BC Lions.
And some of the topics that we’re about to discuss are how heart rate variability evolved from fitness to health and how it has helped some of the people that he knows predicts sickness as well as how to integrate it into a holistic health practice.
Greg has a thing that he calls the HRV checklist which a lot of people have been really interested in learning about. It basically helps you identify what areas you can target to improve HRV and health. We talk about pain and motor learning, predicting recovery time, how mindset can impact a spinal injury recovery and heart rate variability, of course, and how HRV could be used as an emotional map for anxiety and depression, all sorts of subjects.
And as you’ll see, Greg is very energetic and isn’t afraid to try new things. And he also really just digs in. So here we go. Without further ado, Greg, welcome to the show.
Greg Elliot: Thanks for having me on. We’ve had some good conversations in the last few months. It’s great to have an opportunity to get a bunch of professionals together to bring new lights in various different ways that we can use heart rate variability. So I know this is awesome.
Jason: So how did you end up going down this path of tracking heart rate variability and other metrics? What led you to start doing that?
Greg: So I’ll go the back story. So I graduated about two and a half years ago. And when I came back I was in discussions with a couple of companies to work as an exercise physiologist. And my job mainly was to research and find what’s out there with regards to metrics and what we need to measure and what’s important and how to measure it and write it down and make it presentable to somebody.
So we were researching everything, like we know the VO2 max, we know biological infused devices for body fat, we know all these metrics. But the one that I never heard of before with a couple of companies that we’re dealing with was heart rate variability. They did it while exercising which obviously was something that people did. And now as we see researches more, the novelty than anything. There still needs to be more understanding if that’s going to be useful or not. As we know, the resting daily measurement is way more of how we use it and way more reliable from a modernist standpoint.
Researching more and more I started contacting pretty much any individual that I possibly could that had any knowledge of heart rate variability from Daniel Plews down in New Zealand, from Andrew Flatt who’s doing all those stuff with HRVtraining.com and Joel Jamieson, from BioForce and all the guys the iThlete talking with them and just understanding, “Okay, why are you doing this? What measurements are you using?” and going through everything that I possibly can to make the best decision.
I started doing daily monitoring with people just to see what it is because as much as you understand the theory, until you actually apply it, you don’t really understand what it really is. So I got a few devices and I put my friends on it. I’m like, “Let’s just try it.” I put myself and five other people on it. I said, “Let’s just monitor and see what happens” because I had no idea.
To me, in the very beginning I was like, “Oh, great. I know what days I can lift heavy and what days I can’t lift heavy.” That was my basic understanding of what it really meant.
And I think the ah-ha moment for me was — one of my friends was a division 1 volleyball player. She was very high level and, to this day, had the highest variability I’ve had with anybody — very, very high level athlete. And we’re monitoring and monitoring. We started work pretty early, 6 o’clock in the morning. And she came in and she’s goes, “Greg, my heart rate variability dropped the lowest it’s ever been.” “Okay. I didn’t know what that meant. Did you exercise hard the day before?” “No, nothing’s really different.” I said, “Okay.”
So that’s 6:00 in the morning. And at 12 o’clock she was so sick that she had to go home from work. This predicted her sickness before she even knew that she was sick. Nothing changed in diet. Nothing changed in exercise. Sleep was fine. This pretty much predicted that she was going to be sick before she knew it. So at that moment I’m like, “Okay. This has a much more powerful application than what we’re using it for right now. What if we publicize that.”
So I started looking more and more from a health perspective as to, “Okay. What else that this influence? What is this really measuring and what is controlled by it?” So as we dig deep I see even more medical research of understanding of metabolic syndrome and inflammation. And we’re talking about anxiety and depression from mental standpoint and hydration and dietary with the omega 3 and how that affects heart rate variability and the mechanisms behind that.
So I see all these influencers of heart rate variability and it got me thinking, “Okay. Well, no one’s really looking at it this way. We’re not really looking at it from a health perspective. We’re looking at it more of a purely athletic, and that’s what it’s being marketed as.”
So when I started formulating this, this is how I got in touch with Fit to Train which rents a space out of Copeman Healthcare Company. And their founder is Behnad Honarbakhsh. He’s one of the main lecturers and teachers of the FMS system through SFMA and FMS. He does a lot of lecturing from that. He’s heard about heart rate variability and knew it was out there but didn’t know it was this successful at this point.
So we started talking, sitting down, and he goes, “From a stress standpoint, I have the perfect clientele for you.” He deals with the cases of no one knows what’s going on. Somebody with back pain for 20 years and they’ve seen everybody under the sun and there are still no answers. And he gets numbers. He likes his metrics, same thing as me. So we started to team up and putting a bunch of his clients within Fit to Train on heart rate variability to see where they’re at and what treatment does to them.
We’ve talked about some of the stories that I have. We have some unbelievable caseload of people and unbelievable stories that have done this. We’ve seen positive and negative results and what it all means. It’s a good way to look at the whole big picture.
Jason: I’m excited to cover some of those stories because I got a little bit of preview of them prior to this. It’s just like you said, a lot of times heart rate variability and all of these other metrics are looked at from an exercise perspective. It’s usually tough athletes or sports teams that are interested in checking this to optimize their performance. But as with many things, there’s a holistic view that sometimes gets missed. So you’re finding even more interesting information on the health side looking at the whole picture. And it helped you come up with a checklist that I think you mentioned to me. So could you tell me a little bit about what’s your checklist is and how does that relate to everything that you just said?
Greg: Absolutely, yes. When I started to look at the research more and more from a health perspective, what heart rate variability can affect — we work with systems — so FMS and SFMA are systems — and you follow through some paths. With the movements of — say, we’ll do multisegmental flexions. So if you have to go down and touch your toes. Now, there are certain criteria within that that we look for and we breakout that pattern and see if that’s the worst pattern. So you either pass or fail a certain pattern. And then we look and say, “Okay, this one is the worst or this one is the worst one,” and we address the issues that come with it.
So we look for the elephant in the room. And that’s how this was designed is to say, “Let’s look at it globally. What are the global big things from here, from these different areas?” And then say, “Okay, you understand how this is the biggest factor for you and we attack that.”
So I’ve broken it down into multiple different areas. We look at health overall. We look at family history of metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease which we know from an inflammatory marker is — this is why, these are chronic disease developed over time, and inflammation influences this. We look at nutrition. We look at the quantity and quality of foods. How much water do you get? What supplements do you take? We look at sleep. Do you sleep regularly at night? Do you sleep pretty early? How’s your quality? Do you wake up lots? We look at lifestyle choices. Do they have a history of drug abuse or alcoholism?
People that we have are to a point where they’re literally going to tell you everything because they’re at rock bottom. So we get pretty open and honest people. So a lot of people are very honest about this.
Jason: Real quick. Are those people from a broad spectrum and every background?
Greg: Yes. We have bus drivers. We have lawyers. We have doctors. We have professional athletes. We have housewives. We have all sorts of walks of life that come in.
Physical therapy can only do so much. And we realized there are so many other external factors. The approach that we’re looking at is saying, “Okay, 10% of the work is done in the clinic, 90% of it is done by you.” It’s rare for the clinicians to see a person more than once a week. It’s once every two weeks because a lot of the stuff that they do — they spend their time, they do physical therapy, they get everything they can and they go out and then you got to do your part. You got to your exercises, you got to do this and come back in because it takes time for these changes. The same thing I approach with me. We look at the big changes.
And the last one was the emotional. I can tell you how many times I’ve had this checklist or we call them heart rate variability consultations, where people have been crying. You get to that point where there’s so much emotional type stress and anxiety and depression about what’s going on. This is something that I don’t deal with but I know people I can refer out to. We got a great referral system from this checklist.
And it’s really opened our eyes as clinicians to say, “Okay, why isn’t their pain going away?” They are always fighting with their spouse. They’re having trouble with their in-laws. There are so many things. We had one lady that had three close friends die within three weeks. You look at that and how much of an impact — yes, of course, stuff is going to come back up and be worse than usual. Things that weren’t painful before all of a sudden become painful.
We deal with pretty dense and complicated caseloads. This is one window of opportunity for us to be able to attack and help them from a lifestyle perspective.
Jason: That’s pretty powerful especially when you look at the exercise crowd, things like emotion and relationships and stresses of life aren’t often considered. So could those even affect performance of healthy people?
Greg: Yes. The biggest thing that we deal with is pain. We try to get people out of pain and movement patterns. And we see it all the time. You look at any kind of osteopath textbook, you look at the connection of motor learning and inflammation or pain, and it is severely correlated. We’ve seen people that have high variability get better, faster because their body has the ability to dance with stresses that we’re going to put on them. Typically the tougher clients are the people who have the lower variability because they just take long to get better. And people that have high variability seem to get better quicker than usual and evident of many people that we’ve had.
Jason: What’s an example of one of your lower heart rate variability cases that you’ve seen in your experience?
Greg: I have a lot but I’ll tackle a few that I found to be really eye-opening. The first one is a pilot that we’re dealing with. He contacted us because she heard that we do heart rate variability testing. He was actually going to fly to London just to get a heart rate variability analysis done and fly back, just to get it done. And he sent me the report and he’s like, “Can you do this?” And I looked at it and I’m like, “Yes, we can do it.”
So we did the report and we set it off. The reason why he was doing this is that he’s got aerotoxic syndrome which is recognized as a disease but there’s a whole body of literature. He has a 150-page case study of himself and all the tests that he’s done around the world. He’s seen who’s who of everybody, from toxicologist to getting his mitochondria tested in regards to its efficiency. There’s this lab in the UK that does it. She’s seen the top people in the world and getting these reports back.
He was telling me that one of the neurologists they went to go see — that based on his myelination of cells that he should be in late stage Parkinson’s and he has no idea why he’s actually walking right now. So what he’s doing and how we got him at this point — he’s going around the world to do various treatments. And he does really have a marker to know if his body’s getting better or not. So I talked to him. “Do you understand how we can do heart rate variability every single day, not just once every three months like this protocol is doing? We can do it every day and we can monitor it over time. You can make notes. I can keep track.” And he’s like, “Perfect.”
So what he started to do is he’s taking it every single day for probably nine months now. And he’s basing whether to continue to work with therapies or not based on how his heart rate variability is going. And he’s actually, right now, in Mexico going down to get a treatment that he knew benefited him from HRV perspective.
So his HRV severely increased. His numbers are very, very low — the lowest I’ve seen in regards to average. And when he does his treatment he’s actually in the normal range. He’s in a normal human range, his heart rate variability. So he knows these treatments that he does works. They’re very physically demanding. I can’t really get into too much of what he’s doing. They’re flushing out everything from a toxic standpoint.
He sees the benefits of this treatment. And he’s done other ones that actually decrease heart rate variability. He’s like, “I didn’t feel well. My heart rate variability said it. I don’t feel better. I’m not doing it.” So we’re monitoring him now. And he does it every single day. Since he doesn’t have an Internet down there, he emails me his daily ratings. I can import them and see what they are.
So that from a standpoint of health, from the autonomic nervous system, how that functions is great way for us to monitor him and see it’s very — I see how powerful this tool is with that kind of story. It’s unbelievable.
Jason: Like you said, when you have folks that are at the end of their rope and they’re willing to try anything and they’ve got almost no other options — it’s often a terrible story but it’s often a great opportunity to learn something. And so it’s amazing that he’s also got the flexibility to fly around the world and try different treatments.
Greg: That’s a great story that we have. We continue to monitor him on a daily basis. My other favorite story is a client that we worked with early on when we started adapting this — again, about eight, nine months ago. She came in. She was a highly competitive swimmer, probably in her early 30s. And she was having severe, severe back pain. Saw everyone under the sun. And nothing was working. She’s got bulge L4-L5, L5-S1. It’s a lot stuff going on there.
From a movement standpoint, we’re getting better but she had a lot of emotional issues, still does, from a depression and anxiety standpoint, and it really — there’s a lot of relapse that she had into those things and very negative thoughts of, “I want to do this. You guys are the best. But I don’t know if I’m getting better. I don’t know if this is going to happen. I don’t know if I’m ever going to swim again. I don’t know if I can ever do open water swim.” She’s very pessimistic. She didn’t think she was going to get better.
We did her heart rate variability. We started tracking her. And I did the checklist with her. Her family history was great. Her diet was great. Her blood work was immaculate. Sleep was disturbed only because of the pain in the back. Lifestyle was perfect. And the biggest thing for her was the emotional. You can just tell. She’s one of those people that came in and was crying by the end of it. She’s saying, “I can’t live like this. I can’t be in this much pain,” and a lot from that side.
We started working with her. “What do you want to do? What’s your goal?” We can see that she can get better. Her movement was getting perfect. But her pain wasn’t really changing. So what we did is we set a goal. We set the goal I think was in March, somewhere around that time.
She’ll do a 1,500 meter open water swim. It was within six months. She was like, “Oh, my God. I don’t know if I can do this. This is crazy.” “Let just go and just work towards it.” From that point on, every single day, she had to write down and send to use five things that she appreciates in her life. So just getting her to understand what’s important to her, setting her goal and trying to make her achieve it.
She achieved the goal two months faster than what we originally anticipated and set the goal for. And her heart rate variability went up about 15-20 points. And she’s been stellar ever since. When she did the open water swim all of a sudden it changed in her head, the whole “I can get better. I’m achieving these goals faster.”
When I talk to her about this she’s like, “I use HRV as my emotional map. I know if I have a lower variability day I have susceptibility to depressive and anxiety type thoughts. So it’s a negative day. So I know when I have a low heart rate variability day in the morning I have to do certain things. I’ve prepared myself that I’m going to have anxiety attack or these kinds of thoughts. So I’m going to prepare myself to get me in a positive mindset for the day.” So she goes in it and she keep on track.
So we track her. She works with three of us. All three of us are monitoring every single day. When we see her in a low day, it’s like, “Hey, what’s going on? Everything okay? We’re here if you need us.” That support system led her to the point where her pains are finally starting to decrease in her head. We know pain is a subjective value and it’s really hard to understand pain from an individual level and how we do things with our mind.
It’s been a great journey for her. And ever since then her heart rate variability has never been higher and she keeps improving and her changes are starting to happen quicker and quicker and rehabilitation is now going through. And she says, “I owe everything to you guys and what you’ve done from a holistic standpoint.”
Everyone from our field goes, “Oh, pains in your back. Here’s this, this, this. See you next week or see you in two days or see you later.” We spend one on one with client for at least an hour, at least. And the first one is just the assessment, the first hour. And we get through everything. And a lot of this HRV stuff has propped up into everybody’s checklist now because they know how powerful this is and different areas that come in, but no one actually spends an hour and a half minimum with the first initial session, and it’s just assessment. There’s barely any treatment. It’s literally just this checklist and everything, surgeries and family and movement. You get so much information to the point where treatment is easy.
Jason: That’s amazing. So we’re talking back pain and swimming performance. As part of the treatment, you have identifying things that you’re grateful for on a daily basis. And being able to correlate that to increases of health and performance is just absolutely fantastic. But it’s almost like if you have a short where they just come in you ask them “What’s wrong with you?” and then you have a prescription, you can’t dig deep enough to find that type of information to come up with something like gratefulness correlated with back pain. You have to spend a lot of time, it sounds like at least.
Greg: Well, that’s the thing. She didn’t walk in and be like, “Oh, I’m depressed and I have anxiety. And this is why I have these issues.” If we just did the assessment and we see certain things hold to this and see some tension and everything where we don’t know where all this is coming from. What’s the big elephant in the room? It took time for her and a lot of meetings and emailing back and forth and “Try this, try that. How are you doing this?” and building that rapport with somebody.
And we got to that point. When she comes in, she feels comfortable here. She comes in, she can tell us literally anything. I talk to her on the phone and she tells me anything that’s on her mind or how she’s feeling. That takes time. It doesn’t take 20 minutes once a week to get this. It really takes a significant amount of time to be able to build. You got to spend time. Fit to Train and Copeman Healthcare, they’re created because in Canada you spend ten minutes with a physician or you have 20 minutes with a physiotherapist or a physical therapist. These people, they pay a yearly fee to come here but you get a minimum of half an hour with every doctor. And then once a year you come in for prevention screen which you get an hour with the doctor.
Jason: That’s amazing.
Greg: There’s so much that can come from that and you see the preventative measures and the success that these people have. And this type of system is only growing. I went to a doctor’s office here. It said two questions maximum. Really? That’s how it has come to?
Jason: Now a quick word about our sponsor, HRVcourse.com. If you’re looking to take your usage of heart rate variability to the next level, check out the educational video courses over at HRVcourse.com. I’m one of the contributing instructors and so are some of the experts you’ve heard on this podcast. Don’t forget, listeners of this podcast get a 10% discount on your first course using discount code ELITEPODCAST. Courses are only open for enrollment at certain times of the year. So check it out today at HRVcourse.com.
Greg: If someone has low heart rate variability it’s not due to the exercise the day before. It’s only the tip of the iceberg and what it could be. There are so many other things that could be a factor. I haven’t looked at some of the stuff but it would be interesting from a sports performance perspective. People that are in baseball, someone’s in a slump, someone can’t hit, put him in heart rate variability and see where he’s at.
I want to see this anxiety and these things — these players that all of a sudden hit these mental blocks and can’t win anymore. I want to see what happens to them the day of their matches compared to someone that is winning all the time. I know it’s not a predictive performance but it’s that readiness to be able to perform at the high level. There are so many factors that can come into it. And I think we’ve only scratched the surface of the potential of this. And I think the sports performance side of it is doing great with theirs. But I think from our side, from the health perspective, is going to burgeon and get more information from that.
Jason: My research has led me to believe that a lot of the discoveries like, let’s say, heart rate variability, for example, started in the medical space, in hospitals and things like that. And then it was really picked up by sports performance. A lot of discoveries end up that way. It was discovered in the medical field. It was picked up and then popularized by sports performance people. And then the general population discovered that that thing can actually help us be healthier and be happier and optimize our recreational performance and things like that. But it takes that sports side to make it sexy or cool.
Greg: Completely. I understand it. I went to a great lecture at the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists where they talk about these things in the clinical field that can work in performance or things in performance field that can work in the clinic. And you look at the connections between the two.
One example they gave was people with multiple sclerosis. Volleyball players, when in outdoor tournaments, it was so hot that they designed these cooling suits for the athletes. So between sets they could put these suits on and cool their body temperature down. And then from the clinical side they’re like, “Okay. Well, what’s the population that when something gets hot it’s negative and reverses health?” People with multiple sclerosis. When they exercise, their breathing perceived exertion or their side effects from everything they get exacerbates, they increase.
So what they did is they put these cooling suits on people with multiple sclerosis go on exercise the same intensity where their breathing perceived exertion was lower than there was before. So they are able to exercise and get the health benefits without having the negative side effects of everything that comes from multiple sclerosis.
There are very cool things that come from both sides. We’re getting more and more of doctors here to understand the potential tools of it and getting more and more referrals of people that necessarily I haven’t dealt with or haven’t looked up too much about like concussion management, if there’s any correlation between that. So I have a personal case study with a guy with concussions and see how he works with everything, people struggling with weight loss. We got people to increase their variability and all of a sudden they lose five pounds. You got these stories of all sorts of crazy things.
I had a lady the other day. She came in I’m like, “Oh, she’s super fatigue. Your heart rate variability must be low.” “I’m okay.” “What do you fatigue most?” She’s like, “Extra exercise. I’m super tired hours after and days after. I don’t know why.” And I go, “Okay.”
I breakdown the checklist and talk about health. Health seems good. We talked about her diet. I go, “Well, what’s your diet on a typical day? Do you exercise hard?” “Yes, usually I exercise really hard first thing in the morning. And then I go and put out a bowl of Cheerios. And then I have nothing at lunch. I usually skip lunch and then just eat dinner.”
“You’re exercising hard and not ingesting the amount of calories that you need in order to repair and recover.” She’s like, “Oh, yes. Okay. What should I have?” I’m like, “Just basic nutritional things.” She’s been doing it the last couple of days. She’s like, “I noticed a huge difference.”
Sometimes it’s as simple as that and sometimes it’s as complicated as emotions. There are many, many layers that you ought to get through.
Jason: The neat thing to me too is that — just listening to what you’re saying — is that since you have a regular pulse on what’s going on, it allows you to experiment a little bit. I think a lot of people are wanting to be told, “Well, here’s the silver bullet” or whatever the phrase is “that will fix anything that you got going on.” The industry and everybody, I think, is starting to realize that there is no one fix for every issue. But if you’re starting to track a few things over time you can experiment or your practitioner or your coach or somebody can help you experiment and just see what it is that is dragging you down. Is that what you’re seeing?
Greg: When I make changes it’s not like, “Here’s a brand new meal plan. Here’s a brand new exercise plan. Go see a psychologist and here goes to this.” It’s like, “Let’s attack one of the big problems and see how it affects” if it is a dietary thing. Just change that. Don’t do anything else and see how heart rate variability reacts.
And one of the best things that we do from a rehabilitation standpoint with Fit to Train is that we know now how much we can push somebody with their exercise plan. They’re in pain and there’s a lot of inflammation in the body and everything going on. We can look and give them an exercise plan on what to do, the rehabilitation exercises they need to do at home. All of a sudden the heart rate variability drops like crazy. Nothing else changed.
We’re giving them too much. It’s too much for them right now so we got to take it back. And we got this line, rather than hearing about it two weeks later saying, “Oh, actually I feel worse,” we can see it through the day. “Oh, my gosh. Why are you feeling this? Why are you tired, you’re sick? What’s going on?” So we can see from that perspective.
And all of a sudden if their heart rate variability is not changing, we got to create adaptation, we got to create some change. So we got to see some sort of fluctuation or whatever it may be from a rehab if that’s their biggest issue. And that’s the thing. Just like you said, let’s pick something, let’s see if it works because I don’t know everything, you don’t know everything. There’s no perfect way for everything.
Like you said, we get in our field of specialty, we get into this — “Oh, this is how I lost weight. This is how everyone loses weight.” It’s not at all the way it’s going to be. It’s not the case for everybody. You can create the same changes in two different people and two different things happen. One person can gain weight rather than lose weight. It’s all individual. And you got to make small little changes and see, one, do the numbers that you want to change changed and how is the heart rate variability.
Jason: I have one more serious question or so before we wrap up. And it sounds like I think we’re going to have to have a round 2 sometime because there are so many questions I have for you. Are people resistant to thinking that diet or emotion or any of those have anything to do with the problem that they have? So that’s one side of the question. The other side is does having data help convince some of those people that it’s related?
Greg: Completely. It’s a good eye-opener. When people understand what these measures and what it looks at, it’s a good way of saying, “Your score shouldn’t be this low. This is average. Here’s where you are.” It’s like, “Oh, okay. Well, why is it like that?” And that’s one of the biggest questions of saying, “If I change my diet will I get better?” I don’t know. We got to see. We got to figure out what the biggest cause is. If we change your diet and nothing happens. They say they want to lose weight. They change theirs diet and they don’t lose weight. Okay. What did I do that’s wrong?” Change their diet, they lose weight, their heart rate variability stays the same. Okay. Well maybe that’s not the biggest issue.
Taking weight off is going to help you from an overall health perspective just to make things a little bit easier from pain management. Okay, we’ll look at what else there is. Just like everything that we have, people are skeptical. People are skeptical of medications. People are skeptical of exercise plans. People are skeptical of whatever it may be. I think the biggest thing is some people are a bit hesitant in knowing that we know what the heart rate variability is. It’s kind of like, “I don’t know if I really want you to see it every single day.” But those are the people that you see that come in and out. If they’re in pain, they’re going in out of pain or they have something wrong and they come in only when there’s a problem but there are so many other issues that could go wrong.
The people that are dedicated or want to get better and want to get healthier, it’s easy. It’s like, “Oh, my gosh. This is what it measures? You’re helping me on it. I got to know where I’m at.” Funny enough, we don’t give people an option. It’s, “You need to be on this. And we have to track you because this is how you’re going to get better.”
Jason: It’s a balancing act. I know with being a coach in the past and just doing a lot of research and talking to people with health practices is that coaches and doctors and everybody ends up being like a psychologist or something. How do you convince somebody to do something that’s good for them when they don’t want to do it?
That’s another thing too that’s interesting. I’ve talked to people who are measuring from an exercise point of view. And they may exercise twice a week or something like that. And they only want to take measurements on the days that they’re exercising. I try to convince them that they’re missing a little bit by doing that. There’s a good example when you mentioned the gal was able to see before she was sick, before she even really knew anything was wrong. But since she was taking measurements she was able to see that ahead of time. Maybe that’ll give her a cue to look for next time.
Greg: Absolutely. Another good example that I have is I had young kid that I worked with from a health perspective. He had a lot of rehab. He got a lot of osteopathy work type done. He wasn’t really getting better. He still had some GI issues. So from the perspective ruling out everything, it’s like you know what, the one thing that’s missing with people is physical activity. That’s another thing we looked at obviously. It’s like, “Let’s just them active and see what happens and my gosh if his symptoms go away.”
And the thing is he goes, “Perfect.” His symptoms went away and he gets right back on to eating crappy again. But we hold him accountable by using HRV because you can tell when he eats crap food, you can tell stuff that goes on. We had a movement session or a training session. His heart rate variability is low. He’s like, “I’m ready to go. I’m ready to do this.” I’m like, “I’m going to give you half of what I was going to give you and we’ll see what happens.” I gave him half the intensity and he’s like, “This is the hardest workout I’ve ever had.” He was just gassed, people have that.
Me and Behnad, we talk about it all the time. We wake up sometimes and we fill crappy and your heart rate variability is good. It’s like you know what, today is a good day to workout and you feel better. And then you have days where your heart rate variability is low and you feel awake. And you try to get a tough workout and then it’s just not sane. To tell you, from a stress standpoint, there are so many things that influence it but I tell you, it’s going to be the future and it’s going to be a mainstay in a lot of performance and health clinics for a very long time.
Jason: Yes. Like you said, it’s just a drop in the bucket of what we can discover with not only heart rate variability but just asking a wide variety of questions and having a checklist that looks at, like you said, all aspects of health.
I like to think of health and performance as one thing whether you’re an elite athlete or just somebody who is struggling to play with their grandchildren or something like that. Everybody’s looking to perform better. And there are so many aspects of health that affect performance whether you’re a top athlete or —
Greg: It’s in the name of the company. G-Tech Health & Performance.
Jason: Yes, it is.
Greg: You see the link all the time. And to me, when we deal with the clientele, it’s “Why are you exercising? What’s the point?” To live longer and have a better quality of life. It’s a health reason why they’re exercising. And that’s pretty much what we’re doing and the reason why people do it. So we got to look at health in regards to performance too. They’re so interlinked. This is right now the best measure I think that’s out there to link both those together.
Jason: And that wraps up the initial interview with Greg Elliott. FYI, due to the expertise that he’s continued to build over the last several years in the clinical application of HRV, Greg is actually now an instructor over on HRVcourse.com. And so the links and notes to everything we’ve discussed in this episode are easily found at EliteHRV.com/podcast. And replays, questions a transcript and Greg’s contact info will all be posted there as well.
This episode really paves the way for a series of great experts that are going to go deeper and deeper into HRV and other biomarkers of health and performance. So definitely check out the episodes to come. And one way you can help us out tremendously is to stick a short review over on iTunes even if you listen on another app. I personally read every review. And they help attract more experts to the show to share their knowledge with us. So if you need help finding that, just hit up EliteHRV.com/iTunes or search Elite HRV on the iTunes podcast directory and that’ll take you there. A big thank you from the Elite HRV team. This is Jason Moore signing out.