exercise

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 35: Neck Stiffness Part 2

Last week I discussed exercises you can start using today to help decrease neck pain and stiffness.  You can read that here. 

Today we are going to compliment that post with a few exercises that target the key players in a healthy neck; the thoracic spine and shoulders.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, leave a comment!  If you found this helpful, sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date with more information like this. 

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 15 - Improving Your Shoulder Health - The Scapula Part 2

In last weeks post, I discussed the concept of scapular stability and it's role in shoulder health.  

As a reminder, the shoulder needs three things to stay healthy:

  1. Good Shoulder Mobility
  2. Good Thoracic Spine Mobility.
  3. Good Scapular Control

This week is going to cover scapular control and why it's needed to make stuff work nice.

Even though the scapula is considered a "stable" joint in the joint-by-joint approach we spoke of last week, it still requires some degrees of mobility as well.  If the scapula was designed to be only stable, it would be fused to the ribs, versus having the ability to move around it.  

The ability to express movement of the scapula will allow for optimal kinematics of the shoulder, and allow for you to express improved stability in many different arm positions.  This leads to increased strength and reduced risk of injury.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?  Let me know below!

Move Well, Stay Strong.

Tune-Up Tuesday - Episode 6: Knee Pain With Lunging

Tune-Up Tuesday - Episode 6: Knee Pain With Lunging

In this episode of Tune-Up Tusday, we are joined by Dr. Zak Gabor of Boston PT and Wellness.  He discusses a simple, yet effective modification to the lunge that will help you train around cranky knees.

Cueing the Arm Bar

Cueing the Arm Bar

In this post, I talk about how to properly cue the arm bar, and some steps you can take to get more out of this exercise.

Cranky Elbows During Pull-ups?

Cranky Elbows During Pull-ups?

In this post, I go over the mobility pre-requisites for the pull-up.  By making sure everything moves well, we can help decrease the risk of injury, or help those shoulders and elbows from feeling so beat up.  

Controlled Articular Rotations

Controlled Articular Rotations

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) have been all the rage lately.  This is because they offer many benefits to your body.  Want to move better?  Have decreased pain levels?  Prevent loss of mobility as you age?  Want to decrease your risk of injury? Then CARs are for you!

4 Exercises To Keep You Feeling Young

When it comes to exercise - there are a few bang-for-your-buck exercises that will bullet proof your body and keep it feeling young for the years to come.  Until modern medicine figures something better out, it's safe to say these are the closest things to the fountain of youth we currently have. 

Here is a list of my top 4 exercises. When added to your program, these can help you build resilient tissues that can withstand whatever you throw their way.

 1) Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) - Part of the FRC system, CARs are the best thing since slice bread.  

CARs  are active, end range circular motions for a joint.  The reason why they make your body feel great is three fold.  

Quadruped Hip CARs 

  •  Movement is the body's best anti-inflammatory.  By constantly moving joints through all available range of motion, we continue to nourish the joint daily.
  • It allows us to maintain and expand our range of motion at a joint. By constantly taking our joints through full range of motion, we are able to maintain it.  One reason we lose mobility is because we don't spend any time there.  By doing CARs, we ensure that our joints are creating maximal movement - through the biggest circles we can possibly make - allowing us to hold onto our range of motion and even possibly expanding it. 
  •  CARs are a self assessment tool.  I think this is an extremely valuable aspect of CARs as it allows you to assess every joint in the body.  CARs can give you insight into when your joints may start becoming problematic; giving you insight into areas you need to address before pain/dysfunction is present. 

2) Turkish Get-Up - This is one of my favorite exercises because it promotes high levels of stability, mobility and strength and it's packaged into one power packed movement. 

Here are a few of the benefits that TGU's have to offer according to Brandon Hetzler:

  1. Promotes upper body stability
  2. Promotes lower body stability
  3. Promotes reflexive stability of the trunk and extremities
  4. Promotes cross lateralization (getting right brain to work with left side)
  5. Ties the right arm to the left leg, and left arm to the right leg
  6. Gets the upper extremities working reciprocally (legs, too)
  7. Stimulates the vestibular system (one of three senses that contributes to balance)
  8. Stimulates the visual system (second of three senses that contributes to balance)
  9. Stimulates the proprioception system (third sense that contributes to balance)
  10. Promotes spatial awareness
  11. Develops a front/back weight shift
  12. Develops upper body strength, trunks strength, and hip strength

If you aren't sold yet on why the TGU will keep you feeling young into your 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond - take a look at this study by Claudio Gil Araujo from Brazil.  The study said being able to stand up from a seated position on the ground was remarkably predictive of physical strength, flexibility, coordination at a range of ages. 

3) Carries - You have to give an exercise some major thought when Dan John categorizes it as one of the fundamental human movements: push, pull, hinge, squat, loaded carries and the sixth movement. 

When loaded properly farmers carries are an excellent exercise for core strengthening.  It is an easy to learn exercise that challenges your endurance, strength, stability and grip strength.  The ability to carry heavy loads gets our core to create super-stiffness.  Dr. Stuart McGill describes this super-stiffness as - the sum of the forces of all the muscles contracting is greater then what any individual muscle can provide.  This teaches you to build true strength that will aide you for any endeavor you wish to attempt. 

4) KB Swing - This exercise develops power in the hinge position.  Why is power important?  As you age, power decreases - so swinging consistently can help you maintain a power packed punch as you age - not to mention, allow you to improve your overall performance, strength, and endurance. 

What's even better than that?  The kettlebell swing is extremely beneficial for your lower back.  Having a flying bell not directly attached to your body forces your glutes, lats and core to work hard in order to control the bell.  This overall synergy of muscles will help keep your spine strong for years to come, as well as help you rehab from lower back injuries. 

Add these four exercises into your programs on a monthly basis and reap the benefits of better strength and performance; all while keeping pain at bay - even as you age. 

Move Well, Stay Strong.

 

How To Instantly Become More Productable

I always feel as if I am never productive enough. At the end of the day there is always something left on my to-do list, and before I know it, I have achieved almost nothing done.  My days always feel very busy, but my to-do list always seems to stay un-checked.  I have tried many times to overcome this, but all have failed - until now. 

I just recently read an amazing book called the Perfect Day Formula by Craig Ballentyne.  In a nut shell, the book is about helping you maximize your productivity so you can get your work done and still have time for the things you love. 

One message the book conveys to it's readers is how to take control of your mornings in order to increase your productivity. By doing so you can tackle tasks first thing in the morning while energy levels are at their highest and before your day distracts you. Craig states, to do this, simply wake up 15 minutes earlier and undertake any responsibilities that will lead you to your big goal.  

When I first read this, I thought Craig was deranged.  I am not a morning person by any means. For the first 30 minutes of the day I can barely function.  My typical morning begins with the the snooze button and continues on my couch where I drowsily scroll through social media. Before I realize it, I am behind in my morning routine and have to rush out the door. 

Nevertheless, I decided to give this a try.  

My first day trying this I woke up at 5:00 am instead of 5:15, while at the same time swearing off social media for the first hour of the day.  

This combination added 30 minutes of free time to my morning and improved my productivity.

Now I write blogs, read or get any other work done that needs to get done for the day.  I'm completing the tasks that I used to constantly run out of time to do on a regular basis.  I am closer to hitting my goal of investing in the stock market which takes research and time to initiate. 

If you want to instantly become more productive so you can complete tasks you constantly struggle to find time doing (HEP, writing a book etc...) you should wake up 15 minutes earlier than you do today.  Combo this with not touching your phone for an hour and you will be able to accomplish more each day then you thought was possible. 

Move Well, Stay Strong.

Touching Your Toes. Are Your Hamstrings Too Tight?

Can't touch your toes? It's probably because you have always had tight muscles, or you have gotten too old.  

When you were a child you were able to touch your toes, squat perfectly and move in all sorts of ways you no longer can.  This is not because you have gotten older that you lost your movement patterns, but rather we get stiff and tight because we sit down and stop moving. For many it can start with school. 

BabySquat.jpeg

There are multiple reasons why someone would lose the ability to touch their toes.  The two most common are mobility (the ability to move your joints freely throughout a full ROM) and motor control (timing, stabilization and coordination of movement) issues.  

That being said the ability to touch your toes is usually NOT a hamstring tightness problem.  

Muscles can often have the perception of tightness when poor movement patterns exist, or when there is a lack of stability to an area. In the case of the toe touch, if your body feels unstable while trying to bend forward and touch your toes, it will activate the hamstrings and lumbar extensors to protect and limit the movement.  This is when you "feel" that your hamstrings are tight.  

Touching our toes is an essential movement that we NEED to be able to do if one plans to be active.  Whether it is running, deadlifting, squatting, sports, hiking or anything else in the spectrum of movement.  If you can not touch your toes, dysfunction is present.  

Common Flaws:

1) Decreased active straight leg raise (ASLR):

  • Will prevent you from touching your toes.
  • Impede your ability to hip hinge either bilaterally or unilaterally. 
  • Affect your running stride

2) Decreased ability to posteriorly weight shift.

3) Decreased ability to flex the spine while bending forward. 

The video presents 3 simple ways to improve your toe touch.  If none of them improve it, or worse cause pain take it upon yourself to have it looked at by a trained professional (either a physical therapist or personal trainer).  If they do help, well enjoy touching your toes!  

Leave a comment down below on your experiences being able to, or not able to touch those feet. 

 

 

 

Ankle Mobility

Early on in my career, I have had a handful of patients that regardless of what I did, their squat technique was always off.  I would work for months and months and I could only make so much change.  Banging my head against the wall, it took me way too long to start to look at the ankles during my assessment process.  

The ankle joint is one of the most overlooked joints in the body when movement dysfunction or pain exists. Poor ankle mobility can cause poor movement patterns, knee pain, inability to squat to full depth and a slew of other problems.   

HOW TO ASSESS ANKLE MOBILITY

Before you start randomly throwing ankle mobility exercises into your programs, first start with this simple assessment from the FMS/SFMA.

By assessing the ankles you now have an objective measure that will A) tell you if you have a deficit and B) is an objective way to retest your mobility to see if you are actually making improvements.

ANKLE MOBILITY FIXES

There are a ton of very good ankle mobility correctives out there.  The following are just a few of my favorites placed into one location for your convenience. 

Since the calves are always in use with walking, standing, jumping, running etc... they have the potential to develop trigger points and tightness.  In order to address this there are 3 things we need to focus on. 

1) Self Myofascial Release: To Your Calf and Plantar Fascia. 

Using a foam roller or a lacrosse ball (any ball will do really) roll the entire length of the muscle for 30 seconds to 1 minute. If you find any tender points along the way, stop and keep pressure on this area for 5 deep breaths.  

Note: The plantar fascia is part of the superficial back line.  It had a direct fascial connection with the gastroc, therefore rolling both out can offer greater benefit than one alone.  

2) Stretching - There is a lot of chatter going on in the field of health and fitness that stretching is overrated, and we do too much of it.  As there is much merit to this, focused stretching to areas that NEED to be addressed is beneficial.  Bottom line here: Don't stretch a muscle just because it feels tight.  Use objective measures that assure you that what you are stretching (like our DF assessment) is actually improving your mobility and movement. 

There are many ways to stretch this area of your body.  Just make sure that when you stretch, you hold the stretch for 2 minutes without coming out of it.  Research done from Dr. Andrea Spina and the FRC courses suggests that tissues need at least 2 minutes of constant communication to effectively make positive improvements. 

3) Ankle Mobility - These are best served as movement prep for your workouts, and to help improve ankle joint mobility.  Here a couple of my favorites below:

Ankle Mobs to Wall

Mulligan Mobs with Movement

Calf Rock Backs

Whether or not you feel your technique is good or not, take 2 minutes to assess your ankle mobility.  It can potentially help you find limitations that can help improve your technique and performance. 

Hope this was helpful, please leave your comments and feed back below.