This has a bit of a 'smell' that I can't quite put my finger on.
I'm can't evaluate the claims, but this kind of language makes me suspicious. Is this some whole new phenomenon or are there existing, known effects that this somehow parallels?
“We never dreamed that this muscle has this type of capacity. It's been inside our bodies all along, but no one ever investigated how to use it to optimize our health, until now,” said Hamilton. “When activated correctly, the soleus muscle can raise local oxidative metabolism to high levels for hours, not just minutes, and does so by using a different fuel mixture.”
I think we should look at it from a slightly different perspective. I would HIGHLY prefer this to a short press release blurb that allows pop-science clickbait aggregators (or even worse, the "science" sections of CBS/CNN and the like) to have first crack at it.
This was produced by the university themselves, and provides a concise yet accurate and detailed overview of the biochemistry involved, as well as a nice short embedded youtube video demonstrating the movement in question and going over the main points of the research.
Yes, improvements could be made, but this is head and shoulders above the "ONE SMALL TRICK, DIETICIANS HATE HIM" alternative we would have gotten otherwise.
Better than exercise? LOL.
1. Are people supposed to do this contraction indefinitely while sitting? Good luck with that.
2. Is this only supposed to be done with an e-stim machine to generate the contraction? Again, if so, it may be an interesting curiosity, but it's not practical.
FWIW I wouldn't have such a negative reaction if the whole site and presentation wasn't in "slick bullshit" form, but instead conservatively, and clearly, presented their for findings.
> When the SPU was tested, the whole-body effects on blood chemistry included a 52% improvement in the excursion of blood glucose (sugar) and 60% less insulin requirement over three hours after ingesting a glucose drink.
That's amazing if it is true.
Seems like a trailer for something that needs to be unlocked with money.
If you don't read much exercise science, it's worth noting the paper says "It is important to note that volunteers in Experiment I (Table S1) were typically sedentary (verified with an objective tracking device), and none of them had a high aerobic cardiorespiratory fitness (determined by treadmill VO2max or the maximal oxygen consumption test)." A common pitfall of exercise science is that almost anything works wonderfully on untrained sedentary subjects. Wait for replication.
(From the linked page)
Some exercises to strengthen your soleus may include:
* Bent knee plantar flexion with a resistance band
* Bent knee heel raises (as per the Alfredson protocol)
* Seated calf raises
Again, the bent knee position keeps your calf on slack and focus the workload on the soleus muscles of your lower legs.
 Alfredson Protocol: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-alfredson-protocol-for-ac...
The way that I can flex it:
Lie on your back on the floor with your heels on a couch, knees approx 90 degrees
Tip/rotate your foot forward and you'll feel a large muscle engage
Try and flex that muscle like you would your bicep or pectorals. You'll find that you can hold it for quite some time.
Edit: I managed to hold it for a few minutes and it's a very odd feeling afterwards. Almost like I had done a bunch of stairs with no cardio.
Edit 2: Standing afterwards wasn't fun - I had to stretch my calves out to walk normally.
Since everyone’s harping on the previous paragraph and saying “they’re just trying to sell us stuff!!” I figured I should put this quote in a top-level comment as an anti-inflammatory aid.
I want to believe in this idea, but all I can say is that's quite a claim.
I could believe that it's more effective at glucose regulation than exercise, but to say that it's more effective than weight loss seems peculiar because loss of fat mass (which I'm assuming is what is meant by weight loss) is a result of downregulating how much glucose and fat (insuling being present in response to glucose) can enter cells. Maybe there's a logic to that statement, but it seems to be comparing a cause to an effect. Presumably, if the soleus pushup lives up to its name, it would have a negative effect on fat mass. If blood glucose was poorly regulated, absent a failure to produce enough insulin, fat loss would be a sign of better blood glucose regulation.
> The new approach of keeping the soleus muscle metabolism humming is also effective at doubling the normal rate of fat metabolism in the fasting period between meals, reducing the levels of fat in the blood (VLDL triglyceride).
I'm sure that my confusing here is a result of ignorance, but not all fat metabolism is proximal to where it's stored, so I would not expect VLDL to be reduced, but the opposite. Also, fat isn't just transported by VLDL but by chylomicrons. If the fat being metabolized isn't postprandial, maybe it's still getting transported another way? I'd think it would have to unless something special is going on.
Sadly, Sci-Hub does not yet provide the full text of the article.
And too bad my DIY calorimeter has a broken sensor, because I would love to test myself and see if such an exercise has a measurable effect on RQ.
In Japanese there is a saying "ふくらはぎは第二の心臓" (fukurahagi wa, dai-ni no shinzou: the calves are a second heart).
Calf-io-vascular workout? Haha.
They set off mine, as well.
But you have to remember that this is not a news article. It is not written by someone with any degree of expertise in the subject matter. Rather, it's written by a member of the media-relations department at the university. The only source for the piece appears to be Marc Hamilton, a professor at the university.
So what you're likely perceiving is the author trying to hype up something that is inherently pretty boring and technical, and it comes off as B.S.
"The action of the calf muscles, including the soleus, is plantarflexion of the foot (that is, they increase the angle between the foot and the leg). They are powerful muscles and are vital in walking, running, and keeping balance. The soleus specifically plays an important role in maintaining standing posture; if not for its constant pull, the body would fall forward.
Also, in upright posture, the soleus is responsible for pumping venous blood back into the heart from the periphery, and is often called the skeletal-muscle pump, peripheral heart or the sural (tricipital) pump.
Soleus muscles have a higher proportion of slow muscle fibers than many other muscles. In some animals, such as the guinea pig and cat, soleus consists of 100% slow muscle fibers. Human soleus fiber composition is quite variable, containing between 60 and 100% slow fibers.
The soleus is the most effective muscle for plantarflexion in a bent knee position (Hence called the first gear muscle). This is because the gastrocnemius originates on the femur, so bending the leg limits its effective tension. During regular movement (i.e., walking) the soleus is the primary muscle utilized for plantarflexion due to the slowtwitch fibers resisting fatigue."