Pint Of Science 2018 (#POS18)

In May this year, as in the previous one, I had the chance to take part in Pint Of Science (POS) which is a festival that delivers interesting and relevant talks on the latest scientific research in an accessible format to the public across pubs, not only in the UK. For more details please refer to

This year topic was “The equilibrium of being human” and the abstract is here summarised.

“Our body is in equilibrium when there is no change in motion or applied external forces. In athletic performance and daily life, maintaining equilibrium during movement is of primary importance to balance control and postural stability. As such, many physiological and sensory systems must become active to achieve equilibrium. However, these are challenged in athletics, ageing and disease.
This talk will explore the muscular and neurological systems that co-operate to maintain balance and equilibrium, what you can do to improve balance and why these systems fail in ageing.”

In one of the oldest and famous pubs of Bournemouth, the Chaplin’s bar along with other researchers and members of the public we had the chance to discuss our studies, answer questions, drive audience curiosity and solve possible concerns.
It was a magic night and if you would like to have a taste of it the slides are now available on Youtube.

I am looking forward to the next activity which is going to be The Festival of Learning where I will present the four pillars of health and functional fitness.

Heat disorders

Outdoor training is a gratifying experience; however, it requires much more attention, as temperature and humidity may vary rapidly unlike than in a gym where there are adequate standards, therefore precaution should be used.

Especially in summer, we have to guard against all those risks that can come from excessive heat.

But what are the main heat disturbances? And how to recognise them Exposure to stress from environmental heat can lead to three types of heat disorders: cramps, collapse and heat stroke.

  • Cramps

This is the less severe malaise of the three main disorders due to heat and is characterised by an intense state of contracture of skeletal muscles. The cramps affect the muscles most engaged in the exercise that we are doing (so if you went out for jogging it might affect your legs). This disorder is due to dehydration caused by the loss of mineral salts and of course sweating.

  • Collapse

It is associated with symptoms such as extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, vomiting, fainting, cold and wet skin, hypotension, confusion and rapid pulse. Collapse occurs when the cardiovascular system fails to satisfy the body’s demands, which can occur during a moderate activity performed at very high temperatures.

  • Heat stroke

It is a pathological event that puts the person in danger of life and requires immediate medical attention. It is characterised by increased temperature, interruption of sweating, hot and dry skin, rapid pulse and breathing, hypertension, confusion and fainting. It is due to the collapse of the organism’s thermoregulatory mechanisms.


Hence, how to behave if you want to start exercising outdoors in the summer, avoiding any heat disorders

  • Timing

Keep in mind the timetable in which to perform your training. During the hottest hours, any activity is not recommended, thus avoid the time slot between 12:00 and 16:00 and instead workout when the heat is less intense.

  • Clothing

Assuming that you are aware that the more sweat does means that you are losing more fat. Said so avoid keeway (if there is no wind) or other clothing who increase sweat, it is better to opt for more breathable clothes that allow a regular and proper sweating. Further advice: wearing a hat or a bandana, is always a good precaution as will keep your head safe.

  • Hydration

During your exercises do not forget that your body will need to remain hydrated, to avoid unpleasant accidents and to maintain the rate of electrolytes and high mineral salts.

  • Environment

Prefer parks with shaded areas or other areas where you can stay a little cooler if needed.

  • Performance

The performance will unavoidably diminish, at least in the initial phase. Give your body the time it needs to adapt to new stress and after a few weeks at these temperatures, you can increase volume, intensity and duration of the exercise.

The Breathing Muscles

The lungs are passive extensible organs located within the thoracic cage, the movement of air through them is possible due to the respiratory muscles which drive environmental air in and out the airways.

Indeed, the breathing mechanism can be imagined of as a pump in which the contraction of muscles brings the expansion and compression of the thorax. Thus, changes in the volume of this cavity produce changes in the pressure within it, and as a consequence, this creates the gradient that moves air in and out the cavities. At rest the average adult takes 10 to 15 breaths per minutes, with a volume of about 0.5 litres, producing a minute ventilation of 7.5 l /min.

Essentially, all muscles that attach to the rib cage have the potential to generate a breathing action (figure 1), but we can easily divide these muscles as inspiratory muscles which expand the thoracic cavity causing inhalation and expiratory that compress the thoracic cavity causing exhalation (McConnell 2011).


Figure 1 – Respiratory Muscles from Respiratory Muscles Training theory and practice, McConnell 2013.


Inspiratory Muscles

Figure 2 – Deep Frontal Line from Anatomy Trains, Myers 2001.

The principal muscle of inspiration is the diaphragm, a domed sheet muscle that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. It attaches to the lower ribs and the lumbar vertebrae of the spine. When it contracts, the dome sheet moves downward into the abdominal cavity like a piston. This movement increases the volume of the thoracic cavity, creating a negative pressure. Its contraction also induces the lower ribs to move upward and forward, which also increases thoracic volume.

But the diaphragm is also part of the Deep Front Line (DFL) which starts from the underside of the foot, passing up behind the bones of the lower leg and behind the knee to the inside of the thigh. From here the major track passes in front of the hip joint, pelvis, and lumbar spine, while an alternate track passes up the back of the thigh to the pelvic floor and re-joins at the lumbar spine. From the psoas-diaphragm interface, the DFL continues up through the rib cage around and the thoracic viscera, ending on the underside of the viscerocranium (figure 2) (Myers 2001).
As stated by Myers, the DFL plays a significant role in the body’s support especially in lifting the inner arch, stabilising each segment of the legs, supporting the lumbar spine from the front, maintaining the chest while allowing the expansion and relaxation of breathing, balancing the neck and the head.

Other primary inspiratory muscles are the external intercostal muscles located in the area between adjacent ribs. Their contraction moves the ribs upward and outward (similar to the raising of a bucket handle) and also serves to stabilise the rib cage, to make it more rigid, as well as to help in small rotation of the trunk.

Finally, the scalene and sternocleidomastoid muscles are attached to the top of the sternum, to the upper two ribs, and clavicle, to the cervical vertebrae and mastoid process. When these muscles contract, they lift the top of the chest contributing to the inhalation.


Expiratory Muscles

The principal muscles of expiration are the rectus abdominis, the transversus abdominis and the internal and external oblique muscles. When these muscles contract, they pull the lower rib margins downward, and compress the abdominal compartment, raising its internal pressure.
But, is worth to mention that resting exhalation is a passive process brought about by the recoil of the lungs and rib cage at the end of inspiration. Thus these muscles only come into play as breathing muscles during exercise or in forced breathing manoeuvres (including coughing and vomiting).



  • Cover: Thorax and Abdomen of Leonardo da Vinci 1507
  • McConnell, A., 2011. Breathe strong, perform better.: Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, c2011.
  • Myers, T. W. L. M. T., 2001. Anatomy Trains: myofascial meridians for manual and movement therapists / Thomas W. Myers; forewords by Leon Chaitow, Deane Juha.