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Doc & The Jock : Iron Sharpens Iron

Posted on by VitalityPro
Dr. Frank Merritt - VitalityPro Frank Merritt, MD

Iron Sharpens Iron

Spend some time around those of us at VitalityPro and you’re likely to hear that phrase more than once. I learned this phrase from Proverbs while growing up a preacher’s son in Alabama. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” is the full verse. Whether you’re a person of faith or not, everyone can see the wisdom of this proverb.

First of all, let me say that we appreciate the contributions of all the professionals that work in “Health.” Unfortunately, the current health spectrum sometimes has many artificial boundaries with health disciplines and professionals working in “silos” with little if any communication or interaction. The highly trained professionals in healthcare may be in their silo primarily focused on mitigating disease using therapeutics and prescriptions, while the talented persons of health and fitness in their silo try to literally “workout” your health woes. Both have their respective value in regard to your health but frequently fall short when done in a silo. Respectfully, some Americans are equally unbalanced, feeling they must choose either “traditional” or “holistic/natural” medical approaches. We have dismissed these boundaries and found that collaboration and integration among the disciplines is the key to the creation and distribution of new health initiatives. Once again, iron sharpens iron. As a big wave surfer and legend, Laird Hamilton told me in 2015, “You’re creating hybrid health.”

Doc and the Jock will be a section in upcoming issues, in which you the reader will hopefully benefit from dual perspectives on a given subject and more so from “Iron sharpening iron.” By combining the education, training, and experience of a medical doctor with that of a former elite athlete and now strength and conditioning coach, we hope to present an unbiased and balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle, which incorporates health, fitness, and performance.

Surprises are usually fun, and thus, was the case of our research into pulmonary function being one of the “low lying fruits” of performance, as well as fitness and health. While we were training at Laird’s pool in California, actor Orlando Bloom noted an experience he had and asked me to explain the physiology. Since such phenomenon wasn’t fully studied, I was only able to give him a partial explanation. Unsatisfied with this, we quickly began research. Without getting too scientific and technical, let us say that many athletes’ performance and likewise, many others’ fitness and health is limited by their pulmonary system. Yes, some may be limited because of true pulmonary conditions, such as asthma or COPD, and thus, can benefit from seeing a board-certified pulmonologist and starting treatment. Surprisingly, however, many others that do not have such pulmonary diseases, suffer from pulmonary “deconditioning,” or at least from pulmonary conditioning that is not equal to their cardiovascular and pulmonary system can be unequally paired in some “healthy” individuals, including athletes. Furthermore, traditional cardiovascular training may not be enough to correct such pulmonary imbalances and limitations.

If you’re still skeptical, how about trying a little test over the next month? Try maintaining your normal activity level of running, weight training, or perhaps biking, while breathing only through your nose. The results may surprise you.

In the next issue with Doc and the Jock, we’ll discuss the pulmonary specific training called Pulmax, the pulmonary section of the Vitality Age Test administered by Julie Miller, PT at HealthPlex and how VitalityPro’s research is being used around the globe to prevent drowning. Get a head start by visiting

Until then, go for your pre-participation routine and preventative medical appointments as well as screenings. Get plugged into a great gym and or fitness program and opt for balanced choices.

This entry was posted in Age Test, Aquatics Safety, Cardiovascular, Drowning Awareness, Health Camps, Hypoxia, Mobility, MVP Magazine, News, Performance, Pulmonary, Reduce Drowning Deaths, Shallow Water Blackout, VitalityPro Research, Water Safety.