Written by Christopher Kelly
Feb. 18, 2018
Tommy: Hello and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast. My name is Tommy Wood and today, I am joined by Val Nasedkin. Hi, Val!
Val: Hey, Tommy!
Tommy: Thanks for joining me today. I'm really excited about this conversation that we're going to have. You and I recently met at the IHMC in Florida at a meeting organized by Ken Ford and you were there to talk about physiological monitoring in athletes, so that was one of the reasons we were all there. And I think part of that is because of your position as VP of Business Development at Omegawave, but I think probably more so because you have quite extensive experience doing physiological monitoring and testing in elite athletes in pretty much every sport as far as I can gather.
Even ten years ago, I'd heard about Omegawave when I was at medical school in Oxford and they were using it on their rowing team, who obviously were incredibly successful, but over the period of time that we were in Florida, I kind of figured that we were talking about some new things, HRV, all this kind of stuff, and I realized that you've actually been doing this for a lot longer than most people realize and you've probably forgotten more about physiological monitoring in athletes, more about that than anybody else knows at the time. So I think you've got a huge amount of experience, so I'm very excited to dig into it, but before we go there, maybe you can give us a bit of your background both before and after starting Omegawave as a company where a lot of this stuff comes from.
Val: Yeah, that's a good start, I guess. The first thing I would love to say is just forget what you said about VP of Business Development because obviously this is a position I held in the company, but more importantly is the fact that I'm one of the co-founders and my primary knowledge is not in business development. It just happens when you have your own company, you have to do everything.
My background has nothing to do with business development and has to do everything with sport. So I actually started back in former Soviet Union where I was selected for a sports-specific school, for Olympic development as a very young I would say teenager. At 14, I was entering into these sports-specific schools, so I started as an athlete. I started in jumps, explosive events, then switched to multi-events and decathlons, so I've achieved some success in the national level, but unfortunately I was injured at 19, severely injured, missed the pit in the pole vault and dislocated both of my shoulders, which actually was kind of a bad thing for my sports career, but it was a good thing for my coaching career because I started working as a coach early enough. So I started as an assistant to my own coach and went to college at the same time.
After that, I had multiple athletes in the former Soviet Union. I continued to work for the same club, which was School of Olympic Development, so I had a group of jumpers and some throwers that made it to the national team both Soviet and Ukrainian at the time. And I believe in '88 or so where I was a coach for a junior national team, Ukrainian national team that was traveling to the United States, I have met lots of people in Eugene, Oregon where one of our competitions was held, the University of Oregon, so in 1990, I moved to Eugene, Oregon where actually I did a few things. I started a pole vault program for the University of Oregon Women's because back then it just became the NCAA event. I had my own fitness club; that was a disaster. I didn't like it at all. I sold it to 24 Hour Fitness eventually because sports and fitness are two different things, so fitness was just not my cup of tea. That was really truly too much management and too little fun of coaching anybody.
I also had started and ran as executive director a nonprofit foundation for the creation of curriculums of physical education for elementary schools here in Oregon, so that project was funded by, of all places, Burger King and some local business. And then eventually somewhere in 1990, I brought back Omegawave to United States and we found a company with people I knew during my Soviet times because by that time they created the technology that we now know as Omegawave. Prior, it was called Radar System.
We brought them all to United States and we set up a company here in United States. The rest is basically history and it was also kind of a good-bad thing because the good thing was I wish I would know what I know now using Omegawave and working with all different sports in the world. I wish I knew that when I was a coach myself because as everybody else, I honestly ruined my share of athletes and now I understand it didn't have to happen. I could definitely probably achieve significantly better results would I know what I know now.
Tommy: I think as long as you learn from that, that's the best that you can do and maybe prevent other people from making those same mistakes, which is definitely something that I want to talk about today. Just before we get into that, I wanted to set the scene for athlete development just based on some of the stories that I remember you telling while we were in Florida. And one that I wanted to start with was about big monkey, small monkey because I think that that gives a lot of insight into some old Soviet research and how we can maybe expand from there because that's where some of this technology comes from, so can you tell us that story and how maybe that braches out?
Val: Yeah, sure, sure. Of course, you're right, it can be used as a one simple basis because I found out in general that in the Western world when it comes to coaching, we are not familiar with bases. We are too much into detail. We are too much into [0:06:40] [Indiscernible], whatever that word is, but so little into actual basic principles that underline all training principles or should underline all training principles.
The story you were referring to, I actually learned from one of the former PhDs back in Soviet days who actually now lives in Florida as well. He was a track and field coach and it had nothing to do with sports, but it has a tremendously importance, in my opinion, meaning in sports. As we know, there were so many crazy projects that Soviets did especially when it came to physiology and behavior. I have to say for all the bad things that happened in Soviet Union, one very amazing thing was the research that have been done in sports physiology. And actually, it's even prior to Soviet days. As you know, Pavlov, Sechenov, Bernstein, the research that have been done in human performance obviously for different reasons than sports is trickled into sports. But as Soviets wanted to dominate the world and spread the revolution globally, one of the most important things was to create the super human being, so there was no money spared on understanding what it takes to create a superior human and be that mentally, physically -- the research was absolutely amazing.
The one you referred to actually was not done for that purpose, but as I said, it has a big application and it was I believe done in Batumi. It's the southern part of former Soviet Union and the Black Sea and it was one of the largest primate, not a zoo, but a research facility. Let's put it that way. What happened, every primate, how many they had there, was assigned three scientists for many years and these scientists have taken the information about every movement that primates were making during the day, 24/7 basically. They were recorded on what behavior they did display.
What was found over the years is that regardless of age of primates, the overall averages of movements per day stayed pretty much similar. Of course, in their very old age when they were restricted by diseases and stuff, it might have varied, but from young to old age, the change was not that significant, so the primates had their own pattern and they would execute certain amounts of movement per day. The interesting part was of course that different primates showed different patterns. Some of them were doing significantly higher amounts of movements than others. One research that was done was to figure out how behavior will change if they change their environment, so they would take primates that do few movements, fewer movements per day. Let's say for discussion's sake, 1000 movements per day.
And then they would stimulate these primates into let's say 10,000 movements per day. And then when they released them, these primates would just collapse and basically wait out until -- not intentionally obviously, but until the balance stabilizes, so they would be almost non-movable for X amount of time until this average is balanced out and then they start moving with their previous pattern. They did the same of course for primates that for discussion's sake we can say were doing 10,000 movements per day and they would restrict them where they can do only 1000 movements per day. Mind you, the numbers are totally fictional. What they found when they would release them, they each would behave in a very different way. They would be overly active. They would bounce all over the place until their average is balanced out again.
Of course none of this was used in sports as a research, but when I heard that story, it made quite a big impression on me because it actually explains not my terminology, but back to this PhD from Russia terminology. He called it big monkey/small monkey experiment and I started applying it to my own kind of experience in sports and I realized we can actually segment almost all athletes into the same categories. For example, I'm a very explosive person. I'm 6'4". In my big days when I was a professional athlete, I was 85 kilos, so not a small guy, but by definition, I was always a small monkey. I did extremely well with very small amount of training and being lazy around for the rest of the day and I did very, very poorly with high amount of training.
So when I made it to national centers like with the national team back in the Soviet days -- my coach in decathlon was actually a coach of multiple national champions and Olympic medalists -- suddenly I switched from this high jump program where I was training maybe a couple of times a day and the real application of training was maybe 40 minutes or so, suddenly I started training eight hours a day because that's all we did. We basically lived in the specific institutions where all we did was train, eat, sleep, train. There was absolutely nothing else. Of course at the time, I didn't understand any of these concepts and I got quite severely in my opinion truly overtrained, not just overreached because I remember I couldn't sleep at night. I was constantly -- so the typical, classical signs of overtraining.
When I got my injury and I could not perform in decathlon anymore and I went into coaching, I continued to do a little bit of training with my athletes, just literally maybe I coached them but at the same time, I just tried to participate because I was in my early 20s still. I would do a little bit of physical activity and I was shocked. I made it back to the national championship in hurdles. I never was good enough to go any further, but even making it there was quite a surprise to me. I think that's very well explained, this concept of big monkey/small monkey. It's not dependent on our size. It's dependent on our ability to process the load of training, so my ability was always on the small monkey side. I could not process high volumes of training, but I also know people who are the exact opposite of that. And from what I heard from you, you mentioned that you're probably different than that too. You're on the large monkey scale.
I think it's quite important too from the get-go to identify which athlete you are, or if you're not an athlete yourself, if you're a coach and you're very quick to identify your athletes on which scale they are because it will define their training strategy for the rest of their sports career because this trend is not going to change. You can't convert small monkey into large monkey, right?
Tommy: Yeah. So do you have tips on how to do that? Because people will -- if you say small monkey or large monkey, people will think size or genetics and fiber types and all that kind of stuff, but I think it doesn't boil down to that.
Val: One thing gets clear. Yeah, one thing gets clear. It's not muscle types because I'm a very [0:15:04] [Indiscernible] type of guy.
By all the tests we've done during Soviet times and by all of my performances, I was always very successful in explosive events and very poor in endurance events, anything above one -- I was pretty good in a kilometer and 1500 meters, but anything above that.
So after I was exposed to this concept, I tried to observe people and tried to make -- the idea was are there any markers that can define them, and definitely sitting on a very large amount of data including Omegawave data on all kinds of qualities including -- we've performed a lot of jump tests and work capacity tests and reaction rate tests. I can say almost with certainty physiology is not a necessary definition for large or small monkey. I'm not familiar enough in detail with genetics like professionals in those fields are, so I can't state if we can define it genetically.
The genetic analysis that we do for most of sports now that gives you predisposition for endurance or power events are also not the best markers in my opinion. Maybe there are some other markers. I just don't know what they are, but the common markers that we now look in genetics for predisposition unfortunately also are probably not the best ones. The only thing that I found right now is actually talking to people because when you explain to them concepts, most of people know that -- they can recognize that in themselves very well, so we don't need expensive technology. We don't need expensive tests. I think this particular part, which is quite important because it will define a strategy for these athletes for their foreseeable future, can be actually done by simple questioning.
Tommy: Okay. That's exactly the answer that I thought you're going to give, so that's great. Thanks! So say we want to move beyond that, and obviously the technology you've helped develop or transfer over to a commercial product measures a lot of actually physiology including formal 3D-ECG. There's a parameter called DC potential that hopefully we're going to talk about as well, but maybe again you can go back to some of the original research where this was done back in the Soviet Union and how some of these parameters were developed.
The reason why I asked that is because Western sports science usually relies on eight undergraduates who are convinced to come into a lab and do some stuff for a few weeks and that creates a paper and then that's the thing that's done, but I have a feeling that a lot of the stuff that you guys are measuring or some of the things you've developed were done on a much larger scale than that, so maybe you can give us some of the background there.
Val: Yeah, sure. Well, let's start first about why the technology was created in the first place and why we selected the methods that we selected. Of course one hour is not enough time to discuss all of this, but I will start with basic premises.
The other co-founders of Omegawave, we all were in pro sports in the former Soviet days and after our careers -- most of us are the same age or within ten years of each other -- after our sports careers were over, we kind of moved into different positions in the former Soviet system, so I became a coach. Another founder became a sports medicine doctor. Another founder was a physiologist. Well, actually a biologist with specialty in human and animal physiology, and we had a physicist actually. He's the guy who wrote most of the original algorithms, but the idea was very simple.
During Soviet time, we had a system where every athlete had to go into sports-specific hospitals on a yearly basis to get full scope tests and it was mandatory. You could not practice sports in any professional club if you didn't have this type of testing. And of course, the better athlete you become, the higher you are on the ladder of performance, the more frequently you will have to be subjected to these types of assessments. Unfortunately, this type of information, we spend days -- for a few days you spend in this hospital where they do all kinds of tests including muscle biopsies, stress tests, blood panels. You name it, it has been done, all kinds of psychological tests.
The information that finally comes to the sports club and reaches the coach a couple of weeks later meant very little to coaches. They really couldn't quite process the value of the information that was presented to them. There was absolutely no bridge between the pure science that these hospitals produced and the coach's needs to create some kind of training process. It was quite apparent, the problem. That's why in the 1980s actually in Soviet Union, we also tried to solve these problems by creating very specific experimental science groups that were attached to every sports team because at the time, the drug use was quite spread all over the world and Soviet Union was no exception of that, but as more and more people were getting caught, there was a big movement at least in the leadership of Soviet Union how to improve performance without utilizing artificial stimulants.
One of the movements was you can improve it through science, so that's why they assigned the scientific groups of scientists to sports teams, which was quite amazing, but they did it right because they put a coach as a primary boss in this group so I could easily tell my doctors, which would not go well here because who is the coach and who is the doctor here? That wouldn't go very well in the Western system, but as a coach, if I had experiences or I did have an idea of what I was doing with my athletes or I wanted to find a solution to certain problems my athletes were having, I could easily just tell this group, "Okay, here's the challenge I'm facing. Go and find the solution for me" and they would go and they'd try to find a solution.
As successful as it was, it was still not quite there, so that's why this group of people I mentioned before decided that there might be a better way to do things, and the wish list was put together to figure out if technology is to be created, what type of objectives will it have to fulfill? And the kind of wish list included, well, it has to be non-invasive because if you start putting needles into athletes, you're going to fail. They're not going to like it. It has to be non-stressful because to obtain data, you have to put somebody on a treadmill and run them until they puke. It's not going to work either very well, so non-stressful, non-invasive. It has to be portable because instead of athletes coming to your lab, the proper way would be to go where the athletes are and test them in their environment.
The other wish was the information has to be available instantaneously, not two weeks from now because during that time, the condition of the athlete already changed, but most importantly, it was clear whatever technology you create, it has to present data to the coach in coach's terminology with precise guidelines on how to apply this data into a training process because without it, there is no bridge between knowledge and actions, so that was the original wish list. Of course after that, the challenge was to find the methods that already exist on the market that can be used to create these types of technology. The first realization was very quick. If we need to provide information to a coach and it's actionable information, we have to study the behavior on a macro level, so here I will go a little bit aside and discuss micro and macro level measurements.
On a macro level, science is quite good right now because we know exactly what each molecule is doing. We know individual cell functions and so on, but this is all micro level behavior. Unfortunately, micro level is not very good at drawing direct conclusions on how the organism as a whole will perform. For that, we need to look at the macro level. So macro level is a systemic level. Instead of individual ions, hormones, molecules, now we're talking about the nervous system as a whole, the cardiac system as a whole, the hormonal system as a whole. This is macro level. And if we understand the function of organisms by analyzing the macro systems, it's a lot easier to create a bridge to solution, right?
Val: So the methods that we wanted from the beginning then to research would have to be levels that explain macro behavior in human organisms. And of course, if we study them, what is between micro level and macro level? How do we define even macro level? So what is the influence of micro level? Because of course, it all starts in a micro level, but the actual response to training and the performance is created on a macro level, so what connects them are regulatory mechanisms. Micro level affects the macro level through regulation processes. So the original idea was we need to measure those regulation processes to understand how those regulatory channels affect the macro level function.
It's basically the same way as you assess a car's performance from the driver's seat. So we can go and look at all kinds of parameters, how many milliliters of fuel is slipping into pistons, we can do all kinds of stuff, or we can only look at RPMs. Basically, oversimplifying of course is not that simple. We want to identify those RPMs for each macro system. Is this system working too hard to compensate for training? Is it not involved at all or is it in optimal state? So we needed to monitor those regulation channels to predict the function of macro responses, right?
Val: So I hope I'm not going too complicated to explaining it.
Tommy: No, this is great.
Val: Okay. So the next stage was to identify what is already out there in the science world that allows us to do that. So these two primary gentlemen in our company who did their initial research, they went and started this in a whole bunch of universities that had promising types of methods because in Russian literature, unfortunately it wasn't available to the rest of the world, but at least for internal use in sports, we had an incredible library of information. So originally actually we selected more than 50 different methods in literature. The challenge was now to replicate the original research done on it to validate it and see if it's going to be applicable for our own technology. That of course took a good many years just to play with all of these methods available. In the end, what we ended up with were seven primary methods and I will explain to you the criteria for selection. I already gave you one criteria, non-invasive, non-stressful, blah, blah, blah, but there was another criteria, which was sport methodology and I'll address it a little bit later.
What we ended up with, so to identify the state of the nervous system, we had two primary methods, the DC potential method. DC potential, there are many synonymous words for it in the world of science. DC potential is known in the West, as a summary of those synonymous words, 'parameters'. It also can be named omega potential in other literatures depending on the country. It can be slow brain potential. It can be slow physiological processes, SPP, so there are many different synonymous terms for that, but it's basically brain activity between 0 and 0.5 hertz.
Believe it or not, the original research actually in the 1930s was done in the United States and Germany, but at the time, it was quite complicated because to measure this potential, they actually needed to insert gold electrodes directly into the brain so they would have to drill the skull. You can imagine there were not that many takers. Germany might be a little bit different because they didn't ask, same as Soviets, but eventually the initial research ended up in the Institute of Human Brain in St. Petersburg.
It's at the Bekhterev Institute, and Bekhterev's own daughter, Natalia Bekhterev, was at the basis of that research. There was a whole institute that was working in this direction. She was actually at the beginning of research in Soviet Union with DC potential, but multiple schools were developed based on that initial research of interpretation of DC potential. We don't have enough time to explain it completely, but the one school that we primarily used in our technology was [0:30:49] [Indiscernible]. She's still at the Russian Academy of Sciences. She is probably in her 90s, quite an amazing person.
All of this research in DC potential was not done for purposes of sports. We apply it in sports, but of course, it was primarily done for pathologies. It was done for space medicine. It was done for military. And everything that we found, we applied in sports. The simple premises of DC potential, the claim at least is -- there's still a lot of research that needs to be done in my opinion in the Western world to validate all these claims, but the basic premise is that DC potential is explaining the strength and power of the system in a human organism responsible for adaptive and compensatory responses.
So basically, this is how the nervous system -- the state of nervous system, by measuring these parameters -- we can measure the state of the nervous system that allows us to compensate and adapt to the environment. And in our system, we called it -- again, we need to be careful about the terminologies we're going to use because each terminology has pure scientific meaning, but it also has methodological meaning and we might be speaking different languages here. Let's say when we talk aerobic or anaerobic, when I talk about aerobic to a scientist, we instantaneously go into chemical reactions in the organism that produce ATP molecules using aerobic respiration in energy production and so on, but when I talk to coaches, aerobic has a very different meaning. They don't immediately resort to it as a chemical reaction, but rather as a certain type of activity, right?
Val: So I'm primarily using the coach's terminology, so I want to be very clear during these discussions. Of course this method, what we call it from a coach's terminology, we call this interpretation of this parameter as a state of central nervous system. That's all there is.
Tommy: You mentioned a story about factory workers and their ability to perform repetitive or complex tasks and how that changed the DC potential. Is that relevant to athletes as well?
Val: Absolutely. Well, what we found in our own observational research because as I said, we have this data now on thousands and thousands of athletes and we found that this data in particular has very strong relationship not only to the ability to perform high intensity physical activity, but also the ability to perform highly complicated biomechanical movements as well as mental capacities.
There was lots of research done in DC potential in former Soviet Union. The one you're referring to was done on conveyer lines and continuous measurement of DC potential during the day where people were performing the simple tasks over a whole day because it's a repetitive type of task. They perform exactly the same task. Scientists have decreased DC potential over time. The amount of mistakes that people were displaying at performing their simple tasks was growing proportionally, but there was research done in long sea voyages in the military and it's actually published. I think it might even be in English somewhere. At least I used to have it in English where they studied how seamen adapt to the environment of the sea in long voyages because there are very different patterns that can be observed how you adapt long-term.
In fact, it's quite amazing, other studies that were performed in Soviet Union when they studied the human adaptation because adaptation is a big word. I was surprised when I came to the West, there were very few coaches who knew who Hans Selye was. So in our system, it was part of our education even though of course medical research was primary, but the individual who defined what stress is, all his work was done in stress and how can we bypass that if you work as a coach because that's exactly what we do on purpose. We put people under stress and we create artificial environments and we throw them in and we hope that these people will adapt to this environment, and by adapting to it, they will become better in that environment. That's what training is. And this cycle of stress is constant, so you need to understand that.
Back to DC potential, lots of research was done in long-term adaptations, not only short-term adaptations. The longest research I've seen at least, there was performance in some people moving across time zones, let's say when you move from southern republics, former Soviet Union to northern like the polar circle and stuff. They found out -- there was some research -- that it takes approximately up to 20 years for organisms to finally adapt fully to their environment and we need to understand these changes. So when we work with athletes, when we work with performance, we need to clearly understand all of these adoptive capacities of organisms not only short-term, but long-term as well.
Val: So DC potential was one of these methods that have been using that type of research. It's quite unfortunate that none of that research have been -- well, that's not true. Some of it have been published and you can find it in PubMed, maybe not the full research, but at least the --
Val: Abstracts, yeah. Quite a wealth of knowledge was there, so that was one of the methods that was eventually identified and validated for one of the methods we used in Omegawave. Now, it's clear that we understood that there is no single method that can give us all the answers, so if we want to understand organisms on a macro level, we need to understand at least the primary systems, so primary systems, especially regulation, two primary regulatory systems. Everything in our body is regulated by two primary systems -- the nervous system which we can separate into central, autonomic, somatic nervous system with different components like sensory, motor and stuff, and hormonal system. That's how everything in our body is regulated by the nervous and hormonal systems. There are no other regulatory primary systems.
To identify the human functional state, to understand where an athlete is at any given moment, we need at least to understand the state of their nervous system, the central state, the autonomic state, somatic state, sensory motor component of it, so that's the method we chose based on this understanding. So DC potential is represented as central regulatory mechanism, heart rate variability as a representation of autonomic regulation, and it also had a very large body of research. Heart rate variability, well, in the Western world at least, the norms were finally created by 1996, the standards that we are using in 1996. Well, in Russia, it has been used since 1950s and it has been used excessively. It's all originated in space medicine by Professor Baevsky. Probably the best work ever done in heart rate variability during those times was by Professor Baevsky by far, so it was experimented not only -- even though it was the original research in the space medicine institute, but it's also been validated in military, in the medical field, and again, we started using it in sports as well because to be honest, none of the methods that we're using in Omegawave we designed ourselves. Our patent is actually putting these methods together as a more comprehensive way to analyze human functional state.
Tommy: So maybe we could just while we're talking about HRV, could you talk about -- so this is something that's obviously very big in the sports science world at the moment, monitoring HRV, HRV responses to training, whether you should tailor your training based on your monitoring HRV. Could you maybe talk about the limitations of just using HRV? Because that's something that people are really focusing on, but obviously it's just a small component of what you look at.
Val: Correct. Well, yeah, HRV is a wonderful tool, but as many positives it has, it has also the large amount of limitations and those limitations can be especially observed in the healthy athletic environment. It's probably a better tool for people with pathologies, but when we talk -- the whole HRV measures autonomic nervous system activity in regulation of cardiac muscle; that's what it is. We can't even draw a conclusion about if it's true for the whole organism. We know for a fact it's true for cardiac muscles because that's how we measure it by ECG analysis, so we know these are the influences in the cardiac muscle, but here's the challenge. The word 'autonomic' explains it all. The better developed you are, the more autonomic cardiac system becomes. While you might be losing your foot from gangrene, your cardiac system can be absolutely in perfect state and show absolutely great analysis of HRV.
To be honest, we need to understand even the heart itself -- let's concentrate on the heart because we've taken HRV from the heart analysis. I'm using very simplistic terminology here. We need to understand HRV does not represent the actual heart. It represents the regulation of the nervous system of the heart muscle, but it doesn't show the damages in the muscle itself. So I can show you multiple points of data that we have where HRV can show you absolutely optimal states. Meanwhile, people are in a pre-cardiac arrest state where they already have elevated ST segment, reverse T segment and such, but when we look at R to R activities, they're showing hey, two thumbs up, everything is great.
You look at other components of ECG and you say, "Just a second. Maybe the regulation is still okay, but the actual heart already has a problem." That's the reason why we applied not just heart rate variability method. We're applying also amplitude spectral analysis of ECG as well where we analyze not only R to R activities, but we also analyze QRS-ST as well.
Tommy: Yeah, so these are basically -- just to briefly explain, if you do a proper ECG, people will probably be -- like a screen on a medical TV program, you see the blips measuring heart activity and the QRS and T segments, so just various different parts of the heart as the electric activity occurs in them. Either they are depolarizing or repolarizing.
Tommy: Could you give us a bit of insight into what you can tell from those different segments? Because obviously if you're just doing a single --
Val: Sure, and I will explain it again. Let's separate -- what you just did, you described medical terminology, depolarization, repolarization, conductivity and so on, and that's great. I want to draw an immediate bridge to coach's needs, so I will talk about coach's terminology, how to take that complicated medical data and turn it into a solution for the coach.
What have been found when you look at heart activity, which is represented in ECG, it's also we can monitor the influence of training. And in particular, what they found out, the different type of activities -- now I'm going to use coach's terminology -- aerobic type of activities or anaerobic type of activities affect ECG changes in the heart in acute state in different ways. So by monitoring ECG, we can actually see what type of stressor was applied to the human. Was it aerobic or anaerobic in nature?
That we can do even by acute changes of ECG prior and after workout. We can also by looking at these changes, if they become permanent over time, we can also judge what type of compensatory system is primarily involved into the adaptation of this individual to the training process. It's a very important component to have when you actually monitor somebody's response to training and you're trying to forecast the probability of their success.
Tommy: And this is something that you can't get with a simple chest strap or any other way of measuring?
Val: Yes, we can. We can actually. You cannot get it with a simple heart rate monitor. That would be true because a simple heart rate monitor works on the principles of just electrical signals that do not represent -- you're familiar with this. It's a B2B activity. Basically they look at the amplitude of electrical changes, but not the actual ECG. So these can be performed only by analyzing the changes in parameters of ECG segments. That's why our belt strap or whatever, chest strap, actually our transmitter is an actual ECG machine. It takes full scope, medical grade ECG and then our software breaks it down into different components, measures it and converts it into coach's terminology like what we call rightfully or wrongfully metabolic reaction rate or aerobic or anaerobic type of parameters.
Tommy: And you bring together all these parameters that you measure and like you said, you're forecasting future performance or responses to training. I know you've been using machine-learning algorithms to do that. Can you give a bit of detail about what the inputs are and how they're analyzed and how then the coach or the athlete can apply that to their training?
Val: Yeah. Well, before we even go there, when we talk about coach and an athlete, I feel like our discussion has taken a little bit too much direction into again what we do rather than what benefits coaches should get. And again, I would want to steer you a little bit back if it's a discussion to coaches or not and explain them a little bit more about what is the benefit of measuring all of this.
In general, rather than concentrate too much on how we measure -- we can spend days talking about it -- I actually want to talk a little bit more about okay, so go back to our original story, we went and we looked at multiple methods that we would incorporate. First, we need to separate now again methodological reasons why we use different methods. For that, we need to understand the difference between readiness to perform and preparedness to perform because to be honest, we are the first ones who actually realized and described differences between readiness and preparedness because in the Western world, most of the textbooks, it's the same meaning. In some languages like in China -- I worked a lot in China -- there are no different words for that. It's all the same words, so let's discuss readiness and preparedness first.
This concept came when we started using these HRV, ECG analysis, DC analysis. It actually didn't help me at the beginning. This actually complicated my work even more because I would coach everybody like I always did where everybody would do a similar workout every single day and then I would measure their responses and everybody shows completely different responses. Okay, stressor is the same, responses are completely different, and it's really made me confused to be honest because how do you coach everybody? Because the classic prioritizations say if you do this, you should expect this, but that's an empirical claim. When you actually start looking inside the organism, suddenly you see we should expect that, but we are not seeing it. We're seeing it quite all over the place. One person adapts this way, another person adapts this way. So at that point, it was realization. We have to create a concept, a kind of framework that will explain all of it and make it easy for coaches to use.
That's where we recognize that readiness and preparedness is completely two different things, so let's start with preparedness. We need to measure both. If you want to be successful at sports performance, you need to measure both. I'm not going to throw our -- we have all those definitions in a scientific matter, but I will explain it in a simple lay format right now. Preparedness is a combination of everything that requires for good performance. It's a skill primarily because there is no performance without primary skill. It's a tactical preparation, so preparation can be separated in multiple skill preparation, tactical preparation, physical preparation, psychological preparation, so it's a multifaceted stated. What we as coaches do, we're trying to prepare our athletes for a specific performance. We improve their skills. We improve their readiness. We improve their physiology. We improve their psychology. We improve their tactical knowledge.
And by combining all of these factors and improving them all, we increase the preparedness, but preparedness doesn't guarantee you good performance. That's what we recognize. For example, I can have exactly the same team that performs extremely well today and by doing that, they prove they have a very high level of preparedness. And then very quickly a couple of days down the road, they perform very, very poorly. So my question is did their preparedness change? No, it didn't because preparedness is a long-term adaptation. So what happens, that's how we decide okay, what did happen? By looking at the data, we realize even their preparedness per se did not change because of a long-term adaptation, their physiological readiness did change, so we separate it.
If preparedness is a cumulative state of all of those components, readiness is purely psychophysiological. So physiological changes, you didn't sleep one night. You travelled too long and didn't adopt yet. It doesn't matter how well you've prepared. If you are not ready, your performance will struggle. That's crucial not only for performance. It's absolutely crucial at selecting physical loads because when you are physiologically ready for load, you can process a very large load. When you're not ready, your ability to benefit from a workout is somewhat limited. So understanding these two components, preparedness and readiness -- those of you who wants to know more about it, go on our website. I think there are publications we did on this subject -- but recognizing that, we've decided the technology that you create has to have two components.
It has to have the ability to measure readiness, noninvasive, non-stressful and so on, and therefore its DC potential, its amplitude frequency analysis, its ECG, its heart rate variability, but these parameters by no means tell you specific preparedness for a given sport. You can have a great heart rate variability and be a couch potato. In fact, this is one that's always shocking to me. When we started doing lots of research in the United States, we said let's take heart rate variability alone. Forget all the other parameters. So we started testing more and more people and all of them were -- one time we did 200 people going through Olympic trials and track and field. We tested them prior and after competition with Duke University and we found out lots of American athletes actually showed their heart rate variability as pathological patients, patients with pathology. They were getting into this competition completely in an overreached state and so on.
And in the next trip I've taken, I'm taken to Italy where we at the time worked with their national soccer team. That was during the '90s, so we're doing lots of assessments in medical offices where people from the street are walking in and we're doing assessments. You look at the person who's old. You know for a fact they're drinkers. You look at their nose. You look at their capillaries, faces and stuff. You know they're smokers because they smell like cigarettes and your expectation is okay, I'm going to test them and it's going to show terrible results. You test them and HRV shows perfect results due to their lifestyle.
So suddenly the professional athlete shows significantly worst results than the couch potato. That was also the realization that contributed to that separation of preparedness and readiness because HRV just shows you a component or readiness, not even whole readiness, as I've described before. So the proper technology would have to be able to measure readiness component but also preparedness, and preparedness component can be measured only through sports-specific tests. That's why also our original technology has sports-specific work capacity test where you could connect this ECG analysis during a time when people work on ergometer and it will guide them through that and identify your sports-specific work capacity. We did multiple jump tests. It was all put together in one technology and it's actually all in our patents too. So if you combine for example heart rate variability and jump test, you're already infringing into our patent because basically what we did with methods that identify readiness and methods that identify preparedness, sports-specific preparedness, we combined them together into a single technology, so that was the primary reason, separation of readiness and preparedness. That's how we started.
The next stage, what we found out -- and this is more interesting for your population probably. That's why I tried to steer you back from internal science more into application, usefulness. Here's a very important word. How useful is it? So when we talk about usefulness, what we found when we started looking at the data -- and we have probably more than a million assessments now in our database, and mind you, each assessment has -- we measure multiple parameters and these assessments are done during Olympic trials, during Olympic games, during World Cups, in different sports, during regular training. So what we started finding out is that success of people depended not based on what they were doing, what type of training that they were doing, but rather when they were doing that training, so exactly the same training session today can produce excellent results and tomorrow can produce disastrous results, same training session.
A realization of that made us create a concept, what we call Windows of Trainability. I will explain this concept very easily. It's basically an extension of readiness. Remember when I said when you are ready, push hard. When you're not ready, pull back and do it easy. So the window is a next step in this concept, so readiness is underlined and window is solution. So what we found out, you have multiple windows based on your physiology. There are better and worse times to develop endurance, even power, strength or skill. We identify those types now. We identify those windows based on your physiology.
So what is the basic premise here? Well, let's look at how we improve our performance. It's quite simple. We put an organism under demand, whatever demand it is. Demand should be chosen depending on what results we want to get. So I put an organism under demand. Now, what I triggered, I triggered adaptation response. Now, my organism will try to restructure its function to adapt to the stress that I just put on it. So during this time, it's trying to digest the load. The regulation systems are activated and the adaptation process begins. During this time, the organism is pretty busy at digesting the load and forming useful adaptation to it. If I wait until this process is completed, I will have a very useful adaptation. If I start loading the organism while this process is not complete, I also will create adaptation, but it might or might not be as useful for my primary goal because now, the organism -- as you know, the priority is the way it works. So if I put additional stressor and it didn't even digest the first one, it will shift to trying to adapt to the new stressor now without fully benefitting from forming a new system based on the previous stressor. So this process of digestion and compensation and adaptation to stressor, we call it a window.
When your window is open, it means this process is already completed and the organism is ready for additional load. When this process is still ongoing in some of your biological systems, some windows might be closed. You might have opened a window already for endurance, but still closed window for skill development because the components that are responsible for your skill development are still processing the previous load. That's how we created this concept of Windows of Trainability and it's quite I think interesting because it's shifting from conventional type of prioritization or block training to more human-adjusted prioritization or block training, whatever system you're using.
It's not contradictory to those systems. It actually creates, individualizes those systems for athletes individually. In my life, I've been lucky to know personally Verkhoshansky who created the block system and I've started [1:01:13] [Indiscernible] when he was still -- like everybody, so he was our professor. So I had this luxury of knowing everything they've done from personal experience and I have to say everything they've done is still valid. Everything they've done is still probably the best way to go forward except those were empirical systems not designed for individual users. So to make them more effective, to make them more powerful, they have to be individually adjusted to everybody and that's where the new concept of Windows of Trainability can significantly help.
There are a couple of research articles or PhD studies actually that came about Windows of Trainability. One is from the University of Kentucky that has done primarily on explosive abilities for football players, so speed and power, endurance, explosive abilities, strength, agility and so on, and one has been done to validate it in Finland on endurance, recreational runners. Both studies were scheduled in such a way where an experimental group was using Omegawave technology as identification of those readiness times or what we call now windows and adjust training based on how the window was open or closed.
So when window was partially open, the volume and intensity of the training session would decrease. When the window was open, they could push to their full capacity. The conventional group was training as usual. In both cases, in endurance and explosive sports, they came to the same conclusion that people who use the markers or feedback, physiological feedback and adjust their training based on their readiness or what we call now windows showed significantly high improvements compared to the conventional group that trained based on static prioritization, but that wasn't the most exciting thing. To me, the most exciting thing was the experimental groups didn't just show significantly high improvements. They actually show their improvements with significantly lower volume of training and that's a very big message especially in our world where we're so limited on time. So if we can achieve better results at less investment in time because we optimize every training session to your individual abilities, that's quite a powerful tool.
Tommy: Yeah, definitely. So then again, if we're talking about broad applications, does everybody need an Omegawave? Are there things that we can take away from this, things we can take away from your approach that everybody could apply without the technology or how can we start to build that in based on parameters that are maybe easily accessible to everybody?
Val: Well, to be honest, before Omegawave, we tried to do the same thing, so let's separate. There are lots of other systems you can use to evaluate function of different biological systems. For example, central nervous system, well, depending on the part of it, but we used lots of different methods to evaluate it. The reaction rate tests could be performed. We use the simple tests, for example, the old style when I was growing up. Do you know the old style chronometers that we use to measure sprints? Now it's digital but back then, it was steel. So even a simple test like a double tap to see the precise time at which you stop the clock --
Tommy: On a stopwatch?
Val: When your central nervous system is fatigued, your time will increase, but you have to have incredible due diligence. You need to understand your individual norms. You have to test every day to see how you vary from those norms. It's not easy, but it's possible.
Now, cardiac adaptations, sure, we did that too. We would measure heart rate while you're still in bed in the morning and then we would measure it again when you stand up. And putting it through certain formulas, we can see adaptations there. Can we monitor autonomic nervous system? Absolutely, even without advanced technology. You are familiar with skin scratch test, right?
Val: As a doctor, or eye pressure test where you press the -- there are lots of methods to do it, but they're so inconvenient. Unfortunately, they are not precise. They give us a good baseline, but nearly not as accurate enough to decide what type of training to do today. I can give you a whole battery of tests, indirect tests to monitor the neuromuscular system and hormonal system and autonomic system and I never need any technology for that, but then the process becomes cumbersome. You will need to do a bunch of assessments every day. You will need to put all of that data through analysis and not everybody is willing to do it. It's a lot easier to just strap chest straps and spend three minutes lying down and get all of that data in a more detailed, precise way. Do you know what I mean?
Tommy: Yeah, absolutely.
Val: And already ready to go a solution for you. I'm not saying that everybody needs to use technology. What I'm saying is everybody needs to understand the basic concepts of what's going to make you a better athlete, and please go ahead. We probably have something on our website like that Window of Trainability booklet we wrote. It should be somewhere there and it explains the basic concept of our knowledge and find out what works for you.
Tommy: I have so many questions I want to ask you, but I should probably wrap up because we've been going for over an hour now.
Val: Absolutely. I kind of feel that we didn't even touch the basics.
Tommy: No. Maybe we'll have you back and we can go over some more stuff. I'm sure people will have some more questions too. I think this is great just because it grounds people in, like you said, some of the basics and what we need to know before we can start to try and create an adaption in ourselves, in our athletes, and how we can start to do that and then how the body responds. I think that's really important. And just skipping to certain aspects of technology like heart rate variability without understanding some of the underlying concepts I think can make things even more complicated.
Val: Yeah, and I think we can all summarize it to be a very simple thing. Anybody who wants to achieve results or people who want to coach other people to results, they have to be able to answer very well to the following questions, why I'm doing it or why, when, what, how much and how hard. So you put those questions and figure out how you're going to answer those questions every day. So the system to answer them has to be very, very simple. The second you will go into a complicated system of explanation to these questions, you will fail. And I think this is what we do actually through our educational courses. We help people to answer each of these questions efficiently. Only then they will have the actual systemic approach to training.
Tommy: Yeah, perfect. You've mentioned the website. It's omegawave.com. If you go to the knowledge section, I know you have various white papers, lots of references, things people can really dig into if they want to do that.
Val: Yeah. Probably the Windows of Trainability would be the easiest one for regular people to process because sure, white papers and all of that, it's good, but there are lots of scientific information to those who are interested in that. They can even request more scientific information because we're building a database now of all scientific information even though some of it is still in Russian publication. There are more and more now publications in the Western world in DC potential or amplitude frequency analysis or ECG, but something like Window of Trainability will be a good way to start to understand the basic concepts of how to get better results for yourself.
Tommy: Okay. Fantastic. Is there anything else that you want to mention? I have to thank you for tolerating my questions and then pushing the conversation where it's more useful rather than staying mired in the weeds of science. I think that was really great, but is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap up?
Val: Please feel free if your listeners have additional questions because today, I felt it's a hodgepodge of information.
Tommy: That may be my fault.
Val: It's not a kind of linear approach, step by step approach to performance. Maybe if there's interest in the future, we can do that, but if I could answer some of your questions, I'm happy.
Tommy: Okay. Fantastic! Well, thanks again and hopefully I'll hear from you again soon. Thanks, Val.
Val: Great! Thank you, Tommy.
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