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Strengthening your fascia, incorporating diet changes slowly, decreased caffeine and wearing Vive Wear socks are all simple changes that can improve an individuals health, energy, balance, strength, and mental acuity. You may have just accomplished a complete health makeover without even noticing it.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marcus V. Duda MD

Dr. Marcus Duda sees patients as a general orthopedic surgeon with a subspecialty in the care and treatment of the foot and ankle, including lower extremity wound care in Greensboro, North Carolina. He has a special interest in foot and ankle surgery, as well as diabetic foot care and complex wounds of the lower extremities. He has been in practice for more than 20 years.

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and active member of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, as well as the Wound Healing Society (WHS) and the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care (AAWC).

Dr. Duda is Board Certified by the American Board Orthopedic Surgery.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

I am an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treatment of the foot and ankle and lower extremity wound care. I played football in college and always had access to state of the art training, conditioning and nutrition. I thought I had it all figured out about maintaining excellent health until my father died of a heart attack at age 66 while jogging around a track. He seemed very healthy with regular exercise and what was thought a good diet. I decided to see a cardiologist to see if I was at risk for a heart attack. Laboratory tests showed I had high cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure. Bummer, I wasn’t doing very well. I started taking medicines for these problems and was unable to completely correct my medical conditions with prescription drugs. I felt I couldn’t exercise more, so my only option was to change my diet. I started changing to a plant based diet, focused on cruciferous vegetables, and started to have significant improvement in my cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. I now understand that most medical conditions can be improved by diet and this change isn’t easy.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

My first day of my orthopedic residency was quite interesting. I started my first day of residency on call for trauma. A patient was brought into the ICU after being hit by a cauldron of molten metal. He was covered in soot and looked like a homeless person. I stayed up around the clock to keep him alive. Placing central lines and transfusing blood products and medicine. He started to look pretty good and I was proud of my efforts. Then he started developing sepsis and was crashing quickly. I asked the attending surgeon if I could start antibiotics. He said not to start antibiotics or any other invasive treatments. As soon as the attending surgeon left the ICU I asked the nurse for a lumbar puncture tray, and I performed my first lumbar puncture. I sent the spinal fluid for cultures. Later that day the cultures showed a bacterial meningitis and I started an IV antibiotic based on the culture sensitivity. That afternoon on rounds I presented my treatment and reviewed the clinical findings of the patient’s rapid improvement. The attending surgeon was quite upset that that my treatment went against his explicit orders. I agreed but pointed out that my treatment was the right thing to do. He agreed and we moved on to the next patient on rounds. Twenty years later while working as an attending surgeon in another town I was working with a nurse who said, “you don’t remember me, do you?” She’s the patient’s wife that I treated 20 years ago and her daughter just gave me my Covid vaccine. My simple take home message is to work hard and do the right thing even if you are told otherwise. It might some day have an important impact on someone’s life.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

My most humorous mistake was the first patient I treated with the Vive Wear sock. The patient was septic in the hospital and two surgeons recommended amputating her ulcerative and infected legs. She wanted to try the Vive Wear sock instead of having her legs amputated. Every day I came by and put on new socks and her legs started to improve. She was discharged to a skilled nursing facility and was brought to my office for her first office visit. Her legs looked terrible, I thought I had to start over with a new sock design. I told the wound care nurse who accompanied her that I felt terrible that my sock wasn’t working. The nurse told me she had gone back to traditional wound care dressings and she stopped using the Vive Wear sock. The nurse left with a better understanding of the Vive Wear sock and the patient returned with two healed legs. The humor was that I almost started in developing a new sock. Fortunately, the wound care nurse came to the office visit with the patient and explained that she hadn’t been using the Vive Wear sock.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

When I started my career in orthopedic surgery I volunteered at a diabetic foot clinic. Taking care of foot and leg ulcers was challenging since wound care was not a focus of medical school or orthopedic surgical residency. While studying treatment options for these lower extremity problems I realized there may be a new innovative way to keep legs and feet healthy. After years of research and development I created Vive Wear compression socks. During clinical trials patients commented on how comfortable and energized their legs felt. The patented Vive Wear sock is made of baby alpaca and merino wool that is not only soft and comfortable but the natural fibers keep your legs comfortable in both hot and cold weather. Combined with the natural fiber is graduated compression that can improve circulation in the legs up to 40%. Engineered nano silver and nano copper was added to create a micro current that not only energizes your legs but also minimized that stinky sock odor. The silver was bound to the alpaca and merino wool so it would not wash out of the sock. Studies at a University demonstrated that the silver would not wash out of the sock after washing in soap and water. The sock has been very popular with endurance athletes, workers on their feet all day long, and people trapped at home during this pandemic.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I enjoy the mountains and train so I can hike, climb or ski in the backcountry. I wasn’t able to achieve success in my training until I started listening to a very focused and motivated guide. On one expedition while climbing in the Tetons I mentioned to my guide, Zahan Billimoria, that my endurance didn’t seem strong. Zahan told me my endurance was good but my strength was lacking. I was shocked at his observation but was determined to undertake a new approach to athletic strength training. Zahan’s focus on strength training is based on body weight training to develop fascial strengthening. The fundamentals of fascial integration isn’t in any of my medical books or orthopedic training but delivers impressive improvement in athleticism.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

The three biggest problems in our diet are carbohydrates, animal fats and caffeinated drinks. Carbohydrates are converted to sugar very quickly in our body and create rapid spikes in our sugar level. This sugar level then rapidly falls and we become hungry again very quickly, craving more carbohydrates. The animal fats cause plaques in our arteries and associated circulatory problems. The secondary benefit of minimizing carbohydrates is that it forces our body to burn a higher percentage of fat which is a more efficient fuel, particularly for endurance athletes. By decreasing carbohydrate portions and adding in some cruciferous vegetables one will slowly notice a difference in their energy level and the way they feel. The caffeine in energy drinks and coffee gives us a quick energy boost but has long term detrimental effects. The caffeine provides a short energy boost and also causes constriction of our arteries. This constriction decreases circulation to our extremities and our brain. The constriction to the arteries in our legs could lead to blood clots and the constriction of arteries in our brain causes headaches as the arteries open up as the caffeine wears off. To wean off our easy diet, select one item a month to eliminate. This could be eliminating a roll at dinner or a snack and energy drink in the afternoon.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

Strengthening your fascia, incorporating diet changes slowly, decreased caffeine and wearing Vive Wear socks are all simple changes that can improve an individuals health, energy, balance, strength, and mental acuity. You may have just accomplished a complete health makeover without even noticing it.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

Exercise is important to improve balance, coordinated strength of muscles and develop integrity of the fascial system ( Fasintegrity ).The fascia is the integrating structure that supports the muscles, skeleton and all organs of the body. The fascia connects all body structures and provides the tension to integrate diverse muscles groups to achieve functional movement. This coordinated strength helps develop balance, protect joints against stress, and develops athleticism.

This concept is the complete opposite of traditional strength training that focuses on strengthening one muscle group at a time. It’s like putting together Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome. If you just have a few beams put together the structure will not stand up, but once you have connected all the beams you have an incredibly strong structure. The beams of our body are the fascial system and if the fascia is not systemically integrated our body will not be able to withstand the stresses it’s subjected to. I have learned to avoid working a single muscle group on an exercise machine and start working on fascial strengthening which incorporates coordinated muscle strengthening. The earliest gains in fascial integration are improvement in balance and coordination, decreased tendonitis, and decreased sprains. In my opinion, fascial integration training is the new frontier of improving human performance and decreasing injury.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

The next step of strengthening is being able to incorporate these body weight strength activities without having to go to the gym. We are all busy with our day jobs and taking time to get to the gym, get dressed, exercise, shower and get home is just too much time. I recommend finding small openings in your daily routine to get in a few body weight activities a few minutes at a time. Some call this low stress exercise Greasing the Groove. By the end of the day you’ve accomplished a full exercise program without even breaking a sweat. During my surgery days, I use the few minutes between cases to squeeze in a few body weight activities. I don’t waste any time and sometimes I even get nurses in the operating room to join me in these balancing activities. Most activities are performed on the ball of one foot at a time with the toes gripping the floor. This will develop fascial strength. The activities include forward and reverse lunges, balancing like a starfish on one leg, balancing like a drinking bird, and pistol squats.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

A novel that I read 50 years ago is still relevant today. The Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is a novel that follows the pain, suffering and hope of patients in a Soviet cancer ward in 1955. The novel while accurately depicting the suffering of exiled cancer patients is symbolic of the lives of Russian citizens who have been exiled to work camps for their political criticism of the government. Through the patients incurable suffering they persevere through the suffering of the treatment with hope that there may be freedom from the disease and maybe freedom in their life. For the majority of citizens watching the suffering of a fellow man, what is their moral responsibility for the imprisonment and mistreatment of both patients and citizens? The novel provides insight into the ineffective use of poisons to treat cancer and the patients unwavering struggle for freedom in their life.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement that I feel can have the biggest impact on peoples lives is fascial strengthening. Developing fascial strength improves the athleticism of amateur and professional athletes and minimizes injury and improves performance. For elderly people fascial strength will improve their balance and thus minimize the risk of fractures from falls. The improved fascial strength will decrease the stress across the joints and therefore decrease pain from arthritis. Fascial strengthening requires no equipment and can be done whenever you have a few minutes. You can even do it while brushing your teeth or getting out of the shower. The benefits take time but as you continue to advance the fascial strengthening you will notice a change in your activities of daily living. Personally when I walk now I notice a push off with my toes and a little spring in my step. When I participate in sports I have more energy with less effort and my toes instinctively are moving me forward with improved balance. The motion is subconscious and I don’t have to think about each effort. Of all the aerobic and strength training that I have performed, fascial strengthening has provided the biggest improvement.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own” — Bruce Lee

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

If asked who would be a mentor of mine, it would be Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee was a famous martial artist, actor, and philosopher who was born on November 27th, 1940 in Chinatown, San Francisco. He died of cerebral edema at age 33. Lee was someone who trained to develop fascial strength and was always trying to improve himself and others around him. One of his many famous quotes, “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own”, is applicable today.

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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Dr. Marcus Duda: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.