earleybird 6d
"It's not as simple as simply doing a heel lift or raising your legs when you're sitting or shaking your leg or fidgeting. It's a very specific movement that's designed where we use some technologies that aren't necessarily available to the public unless you're a scientist and you know how to use it."

This has a bit of a 'smell' that I can't quite put my finger on.

version_five 6d

  “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'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?
digdugdirk 6d
There are a lot of callouts of "This is BS" in regards to this article.

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.

gitpusher 6d
> "Hamilton’s research suggests the soleus pushup [...] is more effective than any popular methods currently touted as a solution [to a sedentary lifestyle] including exercise, weight loss and intermittent fasting."

Better than exercise? LOL.

hn_throwaway_99 6d
I agree with all the other comments about this - the whole thing stinks of a BS infomercial, for very specific reasons:

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.

Jweb_Guru 6d
These claims sound pretty suspect and much more selective journals than iScience have published completely bogus research before. Would like to see this replicated many, many times before anyone starts selling a product whose purported benefits are demonstrated solely from a single research study from a highly conflicted author.
swamp40 6d
> Instead of breaking down glycogen, the soleus can use other types of fuels such as blood glucose and fats. Glycogen is normally the predominant type of carbohydrate that fuels muscular exercise.

> 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.

elil17 6d
At the end of the video, the researcher says that it's not as simple as just tapping your foot, you need some technology to isolate the motion. Could anyone with a better understanding of anatomy/muscles explain how that works and how they get people to perform this motion?
neilknowsbest 6d
As an aside, the web page for this story shows pictures of a study participant seated in front of a big monitor displaying their vitals. I don't know much about study design, but I feel like that would confound results.
pawelduda 6d
Sounds amazing at a first glance, but I was hoping to at least see them attempt to describe how the move is performed.

Seems like a trailer for something that needs to be unlocked with money.

pushcx 6d
For all the comments wondering what the particular movement and equipment is, see pages 5 and 6 of the supplementary materials: The equipment is an electromyography system with realtime display. It measures the muscle contraction and is displayed to the subject so they can learn to recognize the movement that properly activates the muscle. Contrary to the video, you do not need to be an academic to buy one, they're fairly common in high-end sports coaching/rehab and you can find a cheap arduino-compatible system on Amazon if you want to DIY.

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.

jpollock 6d
The "Strengthening Exercises" for the soleus muscle would be a way to target it? Unless it needs a specific interval to get it into some sort of oxygen deficit or something?

(From the linked page[1])

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[2])

* 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.


[2] Alfredson Protocol:

mmastrac 6d
I'm curious if this is the same muscle that causes Charlie Horses. I can activate it on its own without moving my leg and can hold it in tension for a long time but if you flex it too hard it knots and is quite painful.

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.

filoeleven 6d
> Additional publications are in the works focused on how to instruct people to properly learn this singular movement, but without the sophisticated laboratory equipment used in this latest study.

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.

ravenstine 6d
> Hamilton’s research suggests the soleus pushup’s ability to sustain an elevated oxidative metabolism to improve the regulation of blood glucose is more effective than any popular methods currently touted as a solution including exercise, weight loss and intermittent fasting.

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.

kwhitefoot 6d
The article contains a link to a more scholarly article:
kazinator 6d
I think the soleus helps to pump blood. Flexing the soleus could be improving circulation, which is responsible for some of the allegedly observed effects.

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.

n-e-w 6d
I had a quick scan through the actual linked article [1] but couldn't find the actual SPU protocol? It seems like there are two variations but no details of the regimen (reps / sets / duration). Admittedly, it was a quick look through -- but I'd be really interested to know the protocol. From the YT video in OP it looks like an easy enough motion to learn.


jawns 6d
I'm a former journalist, and I'd like to touch on some of the comments about how this article reads like a dubious infomercial, with a lot of outsized claims that are setting off people's B.S. detectors.

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.

annieup 3d
For people with mobility issues or disability this could be of great benefit if it does what is suggested. I had a work place knee injury which required reconstructive surgery ( not replacement) and am now considered disabled. I also have Fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. I can not use a treadmill, cycle or do much in the way of weight training. So this has lead to a much more sedatary life....and all that comes with it. I'd be very interested in finding a professional or research project to volunteer as a test subject!
skjoldr 6d
Tidbits from Wiki explaining this from another angle. It seems like slow fibers burn fat better than fast fibers, which makes sense.

"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."