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What is the super muscle that improves metabolism and can be exercised while sitting

While sitting with feet flat on the ground and muscles relaxed, the heel is raised while the forefoot remains stationary. When the heel reaches the top of its range of motion, the foot passively releases to come back down

The soleus It’s one of the 600 muscles of the human body. covers from the knee to the Achilles tendon, on the heel, and correct activation can do a lot for metabolic health, according to recent research from the University of Houston, in United States.

The soleus is located in the calfbehind the gastrocnemius, which is the large muscle closest to the surface, also known as twins.

The author of the work is the professor of Health and Human Performance of that house of studies Marc Hamiltonthe same one that promoted the notion that indicates that “It is not the same to sit too much than to do too little exercise”. His new discovery is really innovative and it is estimated that it can change the sedentary lifestyle of most people.

The expert noted that the calf soleus musclealthough it only means the 1% of body weightyou can do great things to improve metabolic health in the rest of your body if activated correctly. The “soleus flexion” (SPU, for its acronym in English) Effectively elevates muscle metabolism for hours, even while sitting down.

“We never dreamed that this muscle has this kind of ability.  It's been inside our bodies all along, but no one has investigated how to use it to optimize our health, until now,
“We never dreamed that this muscle has this kind of ability. It’s been inside our bodies all along, but no one has investigated how to use it to optimize our health, until now,” Hamilton said. (Gettyimages)

Hamilton’s research was published in the journal iScience and suggests that the ability of soleus flexion to maintaining a high oxidative metabolism to improve blood glucose regulation is more effective than any popular method currently promoted as a solution, including exercise, weight loss, and intermittent fasting. The Oxidative metabolism is the process by which oxygen is used to burn metabolites such as blood glucose or fats.but it depends, in part, on the immediate energy needs of the muscle when it is working.

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“We never dreamed that this muscle has this kind of ability. It’s been inside our bodies all along, but no one has investigated how to use it to optimize our health, until now,” Hamilton said, according to a statement released by the University of Houston. “When properly activated, the soleus muscle can elevate local oxidative metabolism to high levels for hours, not just minutes, and it does so by using a different fuel mix.”

Las muscle biopsies revealed that there was a minimal contribution of glycogen to fuel the soleus. Instead of breaking down glycogen, soleus can use other types of fuels, such as glucose and fats in the blood. Glycogen is normally the predominant type of carbohydrate that fuels muscle exertion.

“The lower-than-normal reliance of soleus on glycogen helps it work for hours effortlessly and without tiring during this type of muscular activity, because there is a definite limit to muscular endurance caused by glycogen depletion,” he added. “To our knowledge, this is the first concerted effort to develop a specialized type of contractile activity focused on optimizing human metabolic processes.”

Muscle biopsies revealed that there was minimal contribution of glycogen to fuel the soleus (Gettyimages)
Muscle biopsies revealed that there was minimal contribution of glycogen to fuel the soleus (Gettyimages)

When SPU was tested, whole-body effects on blood chemistry included a 52% improvement in blood glucose (sugar) variation and 60% lower insulin requirements for three hours after ingesting a glucose drink. The new approach of keeping soleus muscle metabolism going is also effective at doubling the normal rate of fat metabolism in the fasting period between meals, lowering blood fat levels (VLDL triglycerides).

Based on years of research, Hamilton and his colleagues developed the soleus push-up, which activates the soleus muscle differently than when standing or walking. The SPU targets the soleus to increase oxygen consumption, more than is possible with these other types of soleus activities, while also being resistant to fatigue.

Namely, while sitting with feet flat on the ground and muscles relaxed, the heel rises while the forefoot remains stationary. When the heel reaches the top of its range of motion, the foot passively releases to come back down. The goal is to simultaneously shorten the calf muscle while the soleus is naturally activated by its motor neurons, the researcher explained.

Although the SPU movement can seem to walk (although it is done seated), it’s exactly the opposite, according to the experts who participated in the study. When walking, the body is designed to minimize the amount of energy used, due to how the soleus moves. Hamilton’s method reverses it and causes the soleus to use as much energy as possible for an extended period of time.

The expert pointed out that the calf soleus muscle, while only making up 1% of your body weight, can do great things to improve metabolic health in the rest of your body if activated correctly (University of Houston)
The expert pointed out that the calf soleus muscle, while only making up 1% of your body weight, can do great things to improve metabolic health in the rest of your body if activated correctly (University of Houston)

“The soleus flex looks simple from the outside, but sometimes what we see with the naked eye is not the whole story. It’s a very specific move that right now requires wearable technology and expertise to optimize the health benefits.” Hamilton said.

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The intention of the researchers is to new publicationsIt’s to instruct people to learn this unique movement correctly, but without the sophisticated laboratory equipment used in this latest study. Hamilton and his team stressed that their work it is not a new method of physical training or dietit’s a powerful physiological movement that takes advantage of the unique characteristics of the soleus.

Hamilton calls it the “most important study” ever completed in his laboratory Metabolic Innovations at the University of Houston and estimated that his discovery could be a solution to a variety of health problems caused by spending hours every day living with a muscle metabolism that is too low, caused by inactivity.

Regardless of how often a person is physically active, spending too much time sitting has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and more. More than half of all American adults and 80% of people over the age of 65 are living with the metabolic problems caused by diabetes or prediabetes.

Marc Hamilton (center) with his colleagues who conducted the research (University of Houston)
Marc Hamilton (center) with his colleagues who conducted the research (University of Houston)

People with or at risk of metabolic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, they are especially susceptible when they have a low metabolic rate from spending a lot of time sitting. Hamilton said that inactive muscles require less energy than most people seem to understand, calling it “one of the most fundamental but overlooked issues” guiding the path towards the discovery of metabolic solutions to help prevent some chronic diseases associated with age.

“All 600 muscles combined normally contribute only about 15% of oxidative metabolism throughout the body within three hours of ingesting carbohydrates. Even though soleus is only 1% of body weight, it is capable of increasing your metabolic rate during SPU contractions to easily double, sometimes even triple, your whole body’s carbohydrate oxidation.

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Even there is no “drug that comes close to increasing and maintaining oxidative metabolism of the whole body in this magnitude,” he said. A powerful physiological method to magnify and maintain oxidative metabolism of soleus improves glucose and lipid regulation. Slow oxidative muscle, especially soleus, is inherently well equipped with the molecular machinery to regulate blood substrates. “We found that human soleus muscle could elevate local oxidative metabolism to high levels for hours without fatigue, during a predominantly soleus type of activity while seated, even in unfit volunteers. Muscle biopsies revealed that there was minimal use of glycogen,” the experts said.

There is not yet a “drug that comes close to increasing and maintaining whole-body oxidative metabolism to this magnitude,” he said (Getty Images)
There is not yet a “drug that comes close to increasing and maintaining whole-body oxidative metabolism to this magnitude,” he said (Getty Images)

Targeting a small oxidative muscle mass (∼1% of body mass) with local contractile activity is a powerful method of improving systemic metabolic regulation while prolonging the benefits of oxidative metabolism, they concluded.

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