Blog Archives

Pregnancy, Pain & Posture: a video progression to restore movement

As I write this post, my wife is 32 weeks pregnant with our third child in three years, so I dedicate this one to Katie….you, and your body, have endured more than most can imagine.


Our boys

I will concede right off the bat that I am not a woman and have not been pregnant, but I have worked with and treated women at all stages of pregnancy, including immediately after C-sections and women 20 years later that are still trying to get their bodies back.  From what I have seen, there is no other experience a person can go through that is both physically and mentally more challenging on your body than getting pregnant, having the baby, and making it through the first five years in one piece.

Medicine has come a long way in making sure that the mother and baby are physiologically OK from conception through to the birth, but there still remains a significant lack of proper support and education for women when it comes to pain, posture, movement and physical function both during and after pregnancy.  The most important factor to consider is that most women don’t have great posture, movement mechanics or strength before they get pregnant, so this issue it not solely created by pregnancy, but merely exposed by it.  Most women are not used to carrying 10-30lbs around all day, or having to bend and pick things up off the floor sixty times a day, or hunching over breast feeding time and time again.  These are physical demands that would be hard on anyone, but particularly hard on someone whose body has changed so dramatically in a relatively short period of time and is functioning on very little sleep.

If you haven’t already please read everything your mother taught you about posture is wrong or how to standRead More

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Core Training: When less is more

Big Myth:
–    If you have low back pain that means your “core is weak” and a “core strengthening” program would help you.

Sometimes the above statement is true, but just as often it is absolutely not.  There is not a direct correlation between low back pain and core strength.  In fact, many people that have incredibly strong “core” muscles suffer from regular low back pain, which is because strength is only one element of having good posture, alignment and movement.  It is the overall muscle balance in your body and your relative ability at controlling movement that is the true sign of good core stability and a preventative factor to low back pain.

Many, many, many people are stiff as hell, many of these people have low back pain and many of these people think that their planks, crunches and strength program will make them better.  Well I am here to tell you that there is a good chance it will make them worse.  Granted some will get better, but the most efficient way to improve your strength, flexibility, alignment and pain is to first learn a bit about your body type before pursuing any type of new program.

From a very young age, as you were learning to function in the vertical position, you have been developing strategies for how your body deals with gravity.  You picked up some by watching how your parents stand, walk and move.  You picked up others from your gymnastics classes and soccer practices when you were six.  The hard fall you had on your butt 20 years ago likely altered things and that car accident 5 years ago probably created some compensations.  Long story short, your posture, flexibility, movement and breathing patterns are a cumulative product of everything you have done up until today. Read More

Posted in Blog, Fitness, Low Backs, Pain, Posture Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
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What is my core? Depends who you ask

The word core has been very popular for quite a while now in the health, fitness and rehab worlds, but there isn’t really a true agreement as to what it actually means; it really depends on who you talk to.  If you ask physiotherapists, most will focus on the deep, subtle, picky muscles like your transverse abdominus.  If you ask strength and conditioning coaches, most will strive to build bracing stability using the obliques.  If you ask a Pilates instructor, most will focus on breathing and dissociation of movement.  Finally if you ask a lay person, most will just pat their stomach and say ‘I know I need to work on my core,’ without really knowing why.

You can watch the associated video at the end of this article.

So who’s right and who’s wrong?  The answer is you should be able to selectively use your body for whatever task you ask it to do.  The picky little muscles should work subconsciously while you stand, sit, walk and breathe.  The bracing muscles should work when you pick up or push something heavy and you should be able to bend, twist and stretch if you choose.  The people that are wrong are the ones that think their method is the only and best thing for everyone.  Typically the personal trainers need to be introduced to the Pilates instructors and the Pilates instructors need to do some personal training.  Most people have a need to work on something, but it is a misconception that building more strength and stability is always the best option.

Some people are naturally strong and stiff as a board while others are loose jointed with low muscle tone.  The first and best thing you can do for yourself before you attempt to do more of anything physically is to learn about your body type and learn what type of exercise would give you the most benefit.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Fitness, Low Backs, Posture Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Six Degrees of Movement: Life as a workout

Please review each level below then read the explanation that follows.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Level 1: Personal Control

  • Emotion/Attitude
  • Awareness
  • Persistence
  • Pain

Level 2: Gravity

  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Breathing
  • Moving

Level 3: Mobility

  • Bending
  • Lifting
  • Walking
  • Climbing stairs

Level 4: Function & Prevention

  • Carrying
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Twisting

Level 5: Athleticism

  • Pushing/Pulling
  • Cutting/Pivoting
  • Accelerating
  • Decelerating

Level 6: Pushing Physical Limits

  • Cardio Training
  • Weight Training
  • Motherhood
  • Sports

The Six Degrees of Movement Framework is a categorization of day to day movement challenges that people face throughout life.  The first two categories are the most important as well as the most mentally challenging.  You learn how to move at a very young age when you can, and do, take everything in life for granted.  Who you are, both physically and emotionally, develops before you are old enough to have any control over it.  Your parents play a big role and so does gravity.  As you get older, you progressively take back most of your emotional/personal control from your parents, but unfortunately most people don’t learn to take back their movement control from gravity.  Just because you can sit, stand, walk and breathe doesn’t mean you are doing any of it correctly.  Movement and posture are skills that some people learn well and others do not; those who do not, tend to suffer from far more pain and health concerns throughout life than those who move well.

The six levels are not a linear progression of how we learn to move as humans; instead, they are a categorization of the complexities of each movement skill.  Day to day life provides us with ample opportunity to be strong, mobile creatures, but poor Level 1 skills tend to make people move very inefficiently and in an inherently lazy way.  There is nothing more persistent on Earth than gravity so one of the best things you can do for yourself physically is to learn how to be persistently aware of how it affects your day to day life.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Education, Fitness, Posture Tagged with: , , , ,
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