From Good Athlete to Great With Jonathan Arkin

Jonathan Arkin(1)-Jonathan-Arkin

Sean (00:00):

Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On this episode I speak with chiropractic neurologist and CrossFitter Dr. Jonathan Arkin. What’s the difference between a good athlete and a great one? It’s an amazing coach. The same goes for great business owners. If you’re ready to level up your business, book a free call with a certified Two-Brain mentor at TwoBrain Dr Jonathan Arkin first showed up on my radar when my friend and colleague Tommy Marquez actually spoke with him at the Norwegian CrossFit Championship where Dr. Arkin was helping treat the athletes. We talk about what exactly the field of chiropractic neurology entails, how your brain influences your athletic performance, why it’s always a good idea to train handstand push-ups at the end of a session, and some things that he does to help athletes improve neurological performance. Thanks for listening everyone. Dr. Arkin, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you doing over there in Norway?

Jonathan (01:06):

Hey, fantastic over here. Getting a little unexpected vacation.

Sean (01:13):

There’s a lot that I want to talk to you about, but I would be remiss if I didn’t start with the basics cause a lot of people just don’t know what it is that you do or about the field in which you do it. So let’s start with what is chiropractic neurology.

Jonathan (01:29):

Got it. So chiropractic neurology, otherwise known as functional neurology is a new way of practicing neurology. It was developed 40 to 50 years ago by a man named Dr. Frederick Carrick and he’s a chiropractor. He’s also a PhD. And while he was going through chiropractic school, he realized that there are so many different applications for manual medicine that most people just don’t realize. So he kind of was at the time a self-taught neurologist and he’s one of the few examples of people who can actually do that. Like his true genius is that he just can absorb information and instantly understand everything about it. So he created this new, branch of neurology if you will. And so what he did is he flew around the world and he studied with people who are experts in different fields because he had the benefit of having, a large amount of time and a large amount of funds to be able to do that with.

Jonathan (02:29):

And now he practices and he practices in hospitals around the world. So he has hospital rights where he gets to treat the most extreme neurological cases in the world. And so he created this field of chiropractic neurology to help spread that knowledge so that other people can do the work as well. So we kind of like to say the way that we function is a little bit different than the way that other people in the field of neurology function. So we study the exact same anatomy, the exact same physiology, the same pathology is all other neurologists, but we practice slightly different. So in the world of neurology, we have the medical neurologist and the medical neurologist is a expert in neurology and he’s fantastic at diagnosing and getting you to where you need to be if you are in danger. So, if you are someone who’s diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and you require dopamine to function, then he will prescribe the dopamine.

Jonathan (03:23):

If you have a brain tumor or a bleed, he’ll get you to the neurosurgeon. But there’s a really big problem in neurology that if you don’t have a pathological disease or something that’s going to kill you, there’s not really much they can do for you. And this was the entire world of brain injuries, right? So what they typically do for people who have brain injuries, if they’re dizzy, they will send them to a physical therapist and the physical therapist will then do lots of exercises in order to help get your brain used to being dizzy so that you won’t seem as dizzy. The problem there is that while the physical therapist is highly educated and extremely talented at doing these exercises, he doesn’t actually know anything about the brain or spinal cord. So they cannot specifically treat the patient in front of them and they can only generally treat them, which is why a lot of rehabilitation from balance disorders and or brain injuries, the results are actually astonishingly low in medicine and it’s not their fault because their job is to save your life and they’re fantastic saving your life.

Jonathan (04:28):

Now this is where myself and my colleagues, we really tend to bridge the gap. So we are chiropractors or some of us actually are osteopaths. We have some medical doctors who are in the functional neurology training as well. So we go through our four to six year postgraduate school depending on whatever degree you have. And then we have to pass a very rigorous board examination, which has a practical and a written aspect. And then we begin to treat our own patients. So we might take the patient who is supposed to get rehab for their brain injury, but we do it very specifically for the person in front of us. So while we’re performing the exercises, we might change it completely for one patient towards the next because brains are extremely individualistic and no two brain injuries are the same. So if you do the same exercises for the people, they don’t get better.

Sean (05:20):

What exactly then is a brain injury?

Jonathan (05:23):

So a brain injury can be defined in a couple of different ways. We have mild traumatic brain injuries, which most people would consider a concussion, then we have moderate traumatic brain injuries and major traumatic brain injuries. And it’s really hard to define. It’s more of a scale of just how bad the damage is. But the term mild traumatic brain injury can be extremely misleading because there’s nothing mild about it. It just means that maybe you didn’t get actual physical damage to your brain, but you can have horrible side effects. You can have people who can never walk properly. Again, I’ve had patients who were paralyzed from mild traumatic brain injuries. Look at any professional athlete who suffered many brain injuries. They’ll notice that they have mood disorders, depression develops, they’ll get chronic pains. It can develop literally any symptom that your brain controls, which is all of them, right?

Sean (06:25):

What was it that initially drew you to this field?

Jonathan (06:28):

You know, honestly, so I was in school, I was doing my postgraduate education work and I was kind of bored and I was like, I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life adjusting people’s backs and necks. And that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that because chiropractors and physical therapists do fantastic things. If you know anyone who has true back pain, the gift that you give them by relieving them of their back pain is profound. But for me, it wasn’t what I wanted out of life. And so I got kind of lucky where I met a few people who were very, very, into this world of chiropractic neurology. And I went by and I went to start hanging out with one of the more renowned chiropractic neurologists, if you will.

Jonathan (07:14):

His name is Dr. Mark Ellis. And he showed me some crazy things. He would have stroke patients walking, patients who haven’t walked in years walking in days, he would have migraine patients actually healed, which is unbelievable because if you know anything about migraines, those patients, the best we can do is hope that we make their symptoms a little bit less. But he fixed them. And so I was like, what the heck is this guy doing? I got to know about it. And so then I started taking the deep plunge.

Sean (07:42):

And along those lines, what drew you to CrossFit?

Jonathan (07:46):

You know, CrossFit was a really interesting experience for me cause when I was younger I was competing. I was a mixed martial artist. So I had maybe seven fights in the cage. I competed in muay thai, I was like 12 and two in muay thai, competitive in jujitsu as well.

Jonathan (08:06):

And then when I started chiropractic school, I didn’t really have the time to train anymore, so I kind of laid off on it. And then one day my buddies, they had one one of their partners drop out of a CrossFit competition. They’re like, Hey dude, can you join me? Like, yeah, but I don’t know how to do CrossFit. And they’re like, it doesn’t matter. You just gotta be a body. And I was like, OK, here we go. So I jumped in and I was so horrible, but I got the butterflies. It had been years since I had those butterflies and I was like, Holy shit, here’s some competition. Let’s do it. You know? So that’s how I really got into CrossFit.

Sean (08:39):

You had your own practice in the United States, but then you relocated to Norway. What made you make that transition?

Jonathan (08:46):

There is some chick. Yeah, she dragged me over here. She’s in the other room right now. I just heard her sigh.

Sean (08:56):

  1. That’s it then. That’s a really good explanation. I thought it might be more complicated than that, but you cannot argue with following your heart. I wanted to ask you about Sidney Crosby, cause everybody knows him as, you know, the NHL star for the Pittsburgh Penguins and how he had a series of brain injuries. How did his treatment help put chiropractic neurology out there in the mainstream?

Jonathan (09:23):

So when Sidney Crosby had his injury, he’s widely regarded as one of the most talented athletes of all time, not just in hockey, just athletes in general. And it was a travesty when it looked like he was going to have to retire and he couldn’t get on the ice again. And it really struck the heart cords of a lot of athletic fans around the world and other athletes who had suffered similar trauma because up until that time, no one really talked about brains. You know, one time you ever heard of brain was if someone came down with brain cancer, right? Whereas now with everything that’s going on in the NFL and other leagues, brains are the hot topic. Everyone’s talking about them. So Sidney Crosby was kind of the first stepping stone. So when Professor Carrick got to work with him and I think it took like a week or something like that. But to actually get him back on the ice and going, it was something absolutely astonishing. It really made people start thinking, wow, there really is something to fixing the way our brains function. Because after Sidney Crosby got back on the ice, he dominated again. Some would say he was even better. So, and this has been repeated in many, many different sporting events, but his was just so in the eye of the public that it really catapulted people to start thinking about brain health.

Sean (10:46):

What are some examples of some of the treatments that he received to help get him back on the ice?

Jonathan (10:52):

You know, it’s really hard for me cause I was not there personally for that one. That was a little bit before my time. So I can’t really say exactly what they did. I have good ideas of the types of things they did cause I have an idea of what his injury was, but what they would have done a lot of treatments targeted at fixing what’s called your vestibular system. And your vestibular system is the part of your brain that’s really responsible for maintaining your balance and for recognizing where you are in space. Like, how do you know that your right arm is on the right side of your body without looking at it? Well, we have neurological mechanisms to tell us that. And so they did a lot of different therapy for him, which would have included moving his body in very specific ways or they would make his eyes move in very specific ways because we can use eye movement to very specifically activate certain regions of our brains. They may have shined different colored lights into his eyes in order to stimulate different parts of his brains. These are things, I’m just guessing based off the case that I know, but I wasn’t there personally so I couldn’t tell you specifically. But those are the general things that you would see for that type of disorder.

Sean (12:01):

What do neurological pathways in the brain have to do with fitness?

Jonathan (12:06):

Absolutely everything. And I think this is a time when I might go start ranting on this. Feel free to reel me in.

Sean (12:18):

I meant to leave that very open-ended.

Jonathan (12:19):

Nice. OK. So the orthopedic model is a little bit outdated. We used to think that if I want to get stronger, I need to gain muscle. And to a certain extent, that is absolutely true. Bodybuilders are strong people. There’s no doubt about it, but it’s not the only part of the puzzle. You can have very, very small people and generate massive, massive amounts of force and power. All you have to do is look at some of the Chinese Olympic lifters, right?

Jonathan (12:55):

You have men who are walking around at 60 kilos doing a snatch or a clean and jerk out like 170 kilos. It’s unbelievable. So the first thing that the brain is really, really responsible for when it comes to fitness is activating muscle fibers. Why can you have someone who’s 30 pounds lighter than you lift more weight than you on a deadlift? Well, this person is more efficient at increasing the recruitment of muscle fibers, and that’s not because they have more muscle, it’s because their brain can more quickly activate the muscles. And this is really easily seen in warm-ups. Why do we have to warm up to lift a heavy weight, whether it’s a squat, a bench or a deadlift? Well, the reason why is because it takes time to increase the amount of muscle fibers that we’re using on our lift, so when our brain is more efficient at activating that we can more quickly and more efficiently activate those muscle fibers to make us stronger.

Jonathan (13:55):

The next super, super, super critical portion of physical fitness that our neurology is important for it is going to be our blood delivery systems and this is one of the most overlooked areas of fitness, I believe, is our blood pressure control. To give people a little bit of a background here, I’m going to kind of explain how blood pressure works and I’m going to talk about how the brain is responsible for making improve everything. So our normal blood pressure should be a certain level. Let’s just say 120 over 80, OK. It doesn’t matter what those numbers means, just accept that for what it is. When we lay down, our blood pressure should be lower because suddenly we do not have to push blood up into our brain and fight gravity with it. So that should be logical to everybody. Then when you stand up off the table, what should happen is that we should increase our blood pressure because now we have to push a lot up into our brain and everyone’s experienced when this system doesn’t work. When you stand up too fast and you go, whoa, it happens to everyone occasionally. Now in people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries or as we can talk about a little bit later, sub-concussive head injuries, this system can get messed up. So these are the people who every time they stand up, they’re going to get dizzy. These are the people in your gyms who when you’re doing massive amounts of burpees or you’re doing thrusters, they’ll look at you and be like, Whoa, I got dizzy after that one. Because what’s happening is they’re not able to resupply blood at an appropriate level back up to their brain. So it goes a little bit further than just blood pressure to the brain. When our blood pressure doesn’t increase or decrease appropriately, we’re also not delivering it to our muscles correctly, so we’re not clearing lactic acid correctly. Then you can actually get interferences at the kreb cycle. So we don’t generate as much ATP because our blood’s starting to get too acidic. So now our fatigue levels are faster. We’re not delivering blood and then clearing the metabolites that slow us down. So people fatigue much more quickly. You can have extremely fit, extremely strong people who get tired very quickly. And it wouldn’t makes sense to you because they’ve got great muscle tone, but their blood pressure is not being controlled appropriately by the brain.

Sean (16:27):

How do you tell the difference between an actual, physical injury and someone who might have a neurological problem?

Jonathan (16:36):

Such as?

Sean (16:38):

For example, a shoulder impingement? Is that, did I hurt my shoulder or is that because I’m just having problems communicating with it to fire it properly?

Jonathan (16:47):

Right. So yes, that’s a great, great question. So one of the things that people, especially CrossFit athletes like to complain, don’t like to but tend to complain about is chronic injuries without a real injury ever really occurring. So every single person in the gym is going to have a bad left shoulder or a bum right knee or something of the sort. Well, what happens is that when we move, we actually have to know from a neurological level what we’re moving. So if I want to move my shoulder, what I do is I open up a map in my brain of my body and this map in my brain will show me where my shoulder is.

Jonathan (17:31):

So I’ll say, OK, there’s my shoulder, now send me electricity to the shoulder and then my shoulder will move. Well, when we injure our shoulders, one of the things that will happen is this map inside of our brain will get damaged as well. So suddenly when I want to move my shoulder, I’m sending electricity the wrong spot. So instead of using my middle deltoid, I might use my posterior deltoid instead. These, this abnormal movement pattern will over time lead to increased pressure on tendon disjunctions, increase levels of inflammation. And then suddenly the patient who’s never had a shoulder injury has lots of shoulder pain. And then when they go get their MRI and their x-ray, there’s nothing wrong with their shoulder, right? And this is really, really common in a multitude of athletic injuries or non athletic injuries. So this would be called a brain-based pain, where you’re the person who every time your shoulder gets knocked out you go to the chiropractor or the physical therapist, they adjust it or they put needles in it or they rub it and it feels better for a week and then it’s all messed up again. You need to get it done every single week. Pretty sure I’m talking to almost every athlete alive, right? Well, what’s happening is that you have a problem activating the correct musculature. So you’re re-establishing injuries that should have been fixed a long time ago. And this is why when say we’re doing like jerks or we’re doing strict presses, why do I always get pain in my right shoulder? Well, if you dropped weight and you injured your right shoulder, obviously that’s a physical injury, but if that’s never really happened or if it happened a long time ago and it should have been healed by now, what’s probably happening is that you’re having an issue neurologically stimulating the correct muscles in that shoulder.

Sean (19:24):

OK, so I’m clear, if I were to hurt my shoulder, there is clearly a physical, there’s physical damage that is taking place. There may also be some neurological damage and where we fail sometimes is taking care of the neurological damage that is done and we assume that once something is physically healed that we’re OK.

Jonathan (19:44):

Absolutely. That is the problem. Right.

Sean (19:47):

  1. Just making sure that I fully understood that.

Sean (19:49):

Hey guys, we’ll have more with Dr. Arkin in just a second. But first, let’s take a pop quiz. Which is better for business: Getting new clients or retaining old ones? Both are good, but the longer clients stay, the less you have to spend acquiring new ones and the more money you’ll make. In fact, the average gym owner can add $45,000 a year in revenue just by keeping each client a few months longer. Want to learn how? Well you can with Two-Brain’s free guides to affinity marketing and retention. They’ll tell you exactly what to do with step-by-step actionable advice. Get them both plus 13 other guides for free at Two-Brain And now more with Dr. Jonathan Arkin. I’ve talked to you before and you mentioned something really fascinating, I wanted to ask you about it again. And that is why can handstand push-ups have a neurological effect on someone’s workout?

Jonathan (20:53):

Yeah, so this is one of the really hot subjects that I’m into right now. So this is called a sub-concussive head injury. Sub-concussive head injuries is what it sounds like. It’s when you whack your head, but you don’t get an injury per se. So this happens to all of us in life where like you know it’s late at night, you wake up and you have to use the restroom and whack your head on the mirror in front of the toilet or something like that. I’m sure it’s happened to all of us. Well, there was a very, very fascinating study that was run, I think it was in January of 2020 it might’ve been December, 2019, but it’s exceptionally recent where we took a large amount of soccer players in the United States and what we did is that we wanted to see the effect of sub-concussive head hits on how they function. So we had all the players take a test called a King-Devick test and many of you may be familiar with this test, but if you’re not, I’ll quickly describe it. The King-Devick test is a series of numbers and all you do is that you have your athlete read the numbers in a certain order and there’s little spaces in between the numbers and then the athlete the next time they read it, they should be faster at it because they learned and they should be faster. Well, what we did is we took a control group of these male soccer players and we took and then an experimental group and all the soccer players did 10 headers. So they took the ball was falling from the sky, they hit it with their head. Only ten of them. Then we took this King-Devick test directly after the headers at two hours following the headers and then at 24 hours following the headers and in the experimental group, the athletes did not get better at performing the test. Whereas the control groups got much better just as commonly expected. So what this means for us in CrossFit specifically is if we are going to be receiving repeated head hits, whether it’s traumatic or not, then we absolutely have to program that differently. So this applies for CrossFit, especially in the handstand push-up, which I’m very passionate about.

Jonathan (23:11):

If we’re doing high-volume handstand push-ups, the last thing we would want to do after that is to train a new skill. Because at this point you have lost your brain’s or decreased your brain’s ability to learn new motor functions. So if you’re the person who’s always doing handstand push-ups and then you go and practice your snatch, you’re doing it wrong, you’re not going to improve your motor ability to perform that snatch anymore. And this is stuff that we can take from neurology that we can actually improve the way that we train from a modern scientific standpoint. Because now obviously we have to do handstand push-ups, at least at the high level of CrossFit we do, because we have to train that skill. But we want to be very cautious with how we do it. For now in my brain, the way we need to do this is handstand push-ups always come last and they always come controlled in practice.

Jonathan (24:07):

We never want to bang the head. If it’s competition, all bets are off. The point is to go as fast as you possibly can. But in training, we need to keep these types of activities really controlled due to that learning factor. If we’re trying to improve ourselves as athletes.

Sean (24:23):

If a CrossFit athlete came to you and said that, you know, Hey, I want to improve my overall performance, how would you determine what kind of treatment or help that athlete needed?

Jonathan (24:36):

Yeah, so the first thing I would do is I would actually watch footage of them. I would just see how they move. And the second thing I would do is I would do a complete examination. And this is stuff that most people have seen before. So they see you, the doctor hits you with like the little hammer on your knees to see if your knee pops out. So they take the blood pressure. I do all of those things, but I interpret it in a little bit of a different way. So I’ll tell you a fun little story. I had a marathon runner who I was treating before we got shut down in our office a few weeks ago and this person has had really crippling hamstring pain for the last eight years. And I was like, OK, so I’m gonna have to think differently about this. It’s not going to be as simple as I rub it or I put a needle in it. She’s done that many, many times. I don’t have a magic adjustment or a magic rubbing that’s going to fix a leg. So what I looked at it was I looked at her deep tendon reflexes, and when you look at her, she would have a clonus when I did a patellar reflex, meaning that her leg would kick out and then it wouldn’t come back down.

Jonathan (25:53):

And then when you looked at the other part of her brain, or the other leg, she didn’t know where it was. So if I touched a point on her left leg and I asked her to touch exactly where I touched with her eyes closed, she would miss it by five to six inches. She had no idea where it was. So what she was doing was she was tightening her right leg to give her stability because she wasn’t able to correctly activate the muscles in the left leg. So every time anyone ever did fascile release or needles or anything on her right leg, then it would just retighten because her body felt unsafe and unstable cause she didn’t know where her left leg was. So I did some therapies to improve her ability of knowing where that left leg is. And this is knowing without her visually looking at it.

Jonathan (26:36):

Obviously she would know where it was if she looked at it. And then suddenly the spasm in her right leg disappeared and she has no hamstring pain. So I would do things in my exam to give me clues as to what’s going on. So I would combine the full complete history with the examination and then I would approach it from a neurological standpoint of how to improve what’s going on with them. And I have many athletes see me and they see me for various reasons. So some athletes see me because they cannot sleep at night. Some athletes see me cause they have horrible mood disorders, some have crippling migraines and we’ll treat them based off of what they’re coming in for. Sometimes people have them all and we can’t get to them all in one week, because the way I treat most of these athletes is I treat them for a week. Generally they’ll fly in, normally they’ll bring their coach with them because it’s always better to treat the athlete when you have a coach who knows their movement patterns. I know when we talked last, I had a pretty good example of using Rich Froning as the example. Rich Froning has an early snatch pull.

Jonathan (27:38):

Everyone in CrossFit who’s ever seen it knows it and everyone’s like, why do you have an early snatch pull? Well that’s an example of an adaptation that you wouldn’t want to fix on an athlete because he’s got a fantastic snatch. He does that for a reason. He actually screwed himself up, gave himself bad form on something in order to improve his performance. So I would never want to fix it on him cause I’d screw him up. So I really like working with coaches with the athletes so that we can together learn how do we improve this athlete’s performance, because someone might have a turned out left foot on a squat. And I might need to let that left foot stay turned out. On another athlete. I may want to fix it so it’s going straight. But that’s why it’s really important. It’s always a team effort when I’m working with these athletes. But yeah, everyone gets a full complete examination and the complete history and then we go from there.

Sean (28:30):

Stuff that you’re talking about, for example, some of the things you’ve listed I certainly have dealt with. If someone is listening to this and saying, you know, maybe I should have my neurological pathways checked, for lack of a better term, what does that person need to do?

Jonathan (28:46):

So when they should do is they need to find what’s called a board certified chiropractic neurologist or functional neurologist. There’s a couple of different boards. The people that I generally go to are people who are trained by the Carrick Institute. So this is the postgraduate education corporation that was created by, excuse me, by professor Frederick Carrick, and they are the leaders in postgraduate neurology education in the world. So if you’re looking for a local provider or if you are say a coach and you’re wondering how do you train your athletes based off of a neurological perspective, which is really where the future of the sport has to go if we’re going to continue improving past where we’ve already gotten, then they teach fantastic courses in how to train people neurologically. But they also can put you up with local practitioners who can be good for meeting your needs. So that’s the and they’re the ones who you contact for that.

Sean (29:43):

How are other sports incorporating this?

Jonathan (29:46):

So this is being incorporated in many, many sports around the world actually. So in collegiate football right now, there is a man named Dr. Joseph Clark who is working with a football team up in Ohio and they have the lowest head injury rate of anyone in the entire league for the last three years. So it’s being utilized preventatively because when you improve someone’s brain function, you improve their spinal stability. Suddenly they’re not as at risk for brain injuries. And when you improve the way the neurology functions, they heal faster from brain injuries. This is being used in other professional sports such as the NHL, the NFL, and the MLB to enhance people’s reaction times. So you have to think if you have a batter in the MLB and a pitcher’s throwing a fast ball at them, they have like one 10th of a second to recognize the ball and another 10th of a second to pull the trigger before they start swinging.

Jonathan (30:46):

Their reaction times must be amazing. And by improving your neurological control in your brain, reaction times go up incredibly high. This is important for people in CrossFit who, how do I learn how to transition from exercise to exercise faster? How do I learn to breathe differently in my thrusters than I was breathing in my pull-ups a moment ago? So this reaction time, this ability to respond to new stimulus is critically important and that’s being utilized in all in all sorts of functions. This is even being utilized in a lot of patients with mood disorders because our brain is responsible for controlling thoughts and controlling our emotions. So we’ve done some absolutely amazing studies and this was a really fantastic one. This was actually one of Professor Carrick’s who did this one with a couple different people at Harvard. And what they found is that there was a one to one correlation with people who have had brain injuries and people who have depression.

Jonathan (31:50):

So there’s an area of our brain without getting too in depth called our dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. And its job is to help regulate emotion. It does other things too, but that’s the big one. Every single patient studied with a brain injury had damage there. We can definitively say that every person who suffered a brain injury is depressed. Obviously there’s a sliding scale of depression. There’s some people who are much better than others. I mean I suffered brain injuries. Technically, yes I am depressed, but I’m a happy vibrant person still, right. So there is a sliding scale there. But we have absolutely fantastic research showing that when you improve someone’s brain function that we can improve their mood regulation. In the fields of PTSD, for example, post traumatic stress disorder, the main treatments now are what’s called EMDR and BCT, which is called behavioral cognitive therapy.

Jonathan (32:46):

And they work quite well for helping people with these horrible disorders. But it doesn’t work as well as something called head-eye vestibular therapy, which would be the blanket term of what we do in functional neurology and chiropractic neurology to help treat patients. There’s other things we do, but that’s the general terminology and actually it has a much higher success rate at treating symptoms of PTSD that even BCT, which is the current gold standard. So this is being utilized by multiple sports around the country and around the world. There’s at least one team in every single major league that’s utilizing and they’re seeing fantastic benefits of partnering themselves with someone who practices this functional neurology.

Sean (33:30):

Can you give me an example of how an athlete who comes to you, and it doesn’t matter what sport, but let’s say this person is not inhibited in any way, but things are working well, things you do to help improve neurological pathways?

Jonathan (33:45):

Yes, absolutely. So this is a really, I’ll give you a great example. So I’m lucky enough that I was able to go and hang out during the Norwegian Throwdown a little at the Sanctional a little while ago and that’s where I started getting introduced to you and I got to talk to some of the athletes up there. And so I’m working with a few of them now. And one of the really common themes for these guys is that they have really poor blood pressure control. So these super, super fit looking men and women who are absolutely majestic athletes, they don’t have the normal ability to increase their blood pressure when they stand up. And this is something that’ll strike home for a lot of people where they go, I have a great back squat, I can run fantastic. I have an awesome shoulder press.

Jonathan (34:34):

But you put me under thrusters and I die. And I die. And here’s why this happens for a lot of people, other people, there might be other reasons, but if you think about a thruster or even a burpee, they are extremely challenging on our nervous system. So what we have to do to do a thruster is we get a weight on our chest and we have to increase our blood pressure so that we can maintain that weight on our chest. We have to decrease our blood pressure so that we can get to the bottom of a squat. Then we have to dramatically increase our blood pressure so that we can catch the weight there and reverse the momentum. And we have to dramatically increase your blood pressure yet again to get all the way up and then increase it one more time to get blood up to our brain and then we have to decrease our blood pressure so that the weight can come down, increase it when the weight hits us. So you start following me. This is a crazy complicated maneuver. And when patients are not able to improve their blood pressure, increase and decrease their blood pressure that rapidly, what happens? Well, suddenly they’ve failed to deliver oxygen and blood and other incredibly important nutrients to their muscles. So their legs, which can do a 500-pound squat, die when they do 20 reps of a 95-pound thruster because they don’t deliver oxygen because their blood pressure and their blood delivery systems, which are neurologically controlled, failed to operate normally. So I would fix that on them.

Sean (36:03):

So give me an example of some things that maybe you would do with an athlete who had that specific problem.

Jonathan (36:07):

Sure, absolutely. There’s lots of different options. Depending on the person in front of me, I might use unilateral isometric exercises. So I could use an isometric exercise only on the left side of the body. Because if I did that, that would increase the blood pressure on the right side of the body or vice versa. I could use, if say the blood pressure’s too high, what I could do is I could use a complex movement where I move their body through very complex movements, which has the effect of decreasing our blood pressure. Or I can do things where I put patients in a chair and I have them look at a target while I rotate them in a chair cause that’ll stimulate something called your vestibular system and your vestibular system can send information down to help improve your blood delivery. There’s so many options.

Jonathan (36:53):

I can shine lights in people’s eyes. For some patients I actually might adjust your neck, maybe give it a little neck crack. There’s so many different ways that we can absolutely stimulate these pathways. The trick is knowing what’s correct for the person in front of me because you can have 10 athletes in front of you, all have had brain injuries. All of them might want me to fix the exact same thing on them and I might have to do 10 completely different things. And if I did do the same thing on some of them, I could screw them up because no two nervous systems are the same.

Sean (37:28):

So final question here, after listening to you speak, when I think of an athlete like Mat Fraser, I say that guy’s just wired differently. Why is that true or why is that not true?

Jonathan (37:43):

You know what, I would love to get to examine Mat Fraser, like, Mat, if you’re listening to this, hit me up. Love to take a look, brother. But my personal theory and this is that, why do certain athletes just dominate? Generally speaking, when we get to this high level CrossFit, go to the Games, everyone’s pretty much the same fitness level. Everyone’s going to run a five-minute mile. Everyone’s going to be, all the men are going to be able to do a clean and jerk at 350, 360 pounds. All of them can do it. All of them can do crazy amounts of burpees and then do rowing and all these things. The things that really absolutely make people different is how do they recover in between exercises. And I am highly confident that that is going to be their nervous system’s ability to get blood delivery.

Jonathan (38:39):

But not only get blood delivery but to facilitate what’s called your vestibular system. So your sense of balance in between exercises. So the things that really destroy people is when you’re doing 30 muscle-ups and then you do a handstand walk and then you do a prowler push. That’s where you see massive, massive differences in people’s performance. And this is because your brain has to change its facilitation to meet the demands of these crazy different types of exercises. And some of these men and women do it better than others and that is a neurological difference, not a muscle difference.

Sean (39:11):

Yeah. Well Dr. Arkin, I love talking to you, man. It’s always a great time just learning about all this stuff and I appreciate you taking the time to do this. And once again, if people want to find out more about chiropractic neurology, where can they go?

Jonathan (39:22):

So what they should do is they should go to the that’s C a R R I C K They do a great job of publishing information and they can connect you with local physicians who are close to you, who can help you. Everyone’s also very welcome to contact me and very easy to find,, I respond to people’s emails. I love talking to people. Most, a lot of us who treat, we’ll do treatments in two different ways just because there’s not many of us in the world. There’s maybe 3,000 people in the world who are practicing this way and it’s growing very rapidly. So what we’ll do is we offer things called intensives and this is the, one of the ways that I practice with patients who are from out of the country who are from six hours away. What they’ll do is they’ll fly in and they’ll stay with me for a full week and I can like treat you for six, seven hours a day for a full week.

Jonathan (40:23):

And it’s very intensive and it can be very exhausting, but we can make dramatic changes in people’s performance in these days because the brain is very different than muscles. So muscles, the half life of a protein in your muscle is like three weeks. And what this means is basically that’s why you can skip three weeks in the gym and you’re not any weaker. You might be a little winded because you ate too many burgers, had a few too many beers, but you’re not any weaker. The brain is different though. OK? The brain has a half life of nanoseconds in some cases and what this means is that you can heal brain tissue so much more quickly than you can muscle tissue. So if someone has biceps tendonitis, I might rub that muscle but then I have to let them rest for two days.

Jonathan (41:03):

Cause if I keep rubbing it, I can injure them. With brain injuries though I can treat you for 20 minutes, have you go rest for 20 minutes and you’ve already created new neurons in your brain. So we can make amazingly dramatic differences within a week when you cycle this rest, treatment, rest, treatment, cycling. This is how we get patients who haven’t walked in years walking in a matter of days because you give the brain the appropriate stimulation and then you let them rest to heal. But you have to do it very specifically. So people are welcome to contact the Carrick Institute about more information. They’re welcome to get up with me. I’m also on Instagram. I’m not the most active, I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to get better, I promise. But that would be the resources I think that people have available to them. So don’t despair if there’s no one really close to you. There’s lots of options for treatment.

Sean (41:56):

Well, I really appreciate the time, Dr. Arkin and best of luck over there in Norway and I hope you stay safe and enjoy this this time staying indoors for a while.

Jonathan (42:06):

Yeah. Well I appreciate you having me on, this has been fun.

Sean (42:09):

Big thanks to Dr. Arkin for taking the time to speak with me today. In addition to the ways that he mentioned to get ahold of him, he is on Instagram. His handle is @d.r.jonathanarkin. Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure you subscribe and join me every Wednesday for inspiring stories from the fitness community and interviews with your favorite athletes and coaches. Miss an episode? Don’t worry about it. You can find them all in our archives at Thanks so much for listening everybody. We’ll see you next time.

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