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Beth’s Story: an ex-runner turned mother rediscovers her body

pep talk from Mom...

Beth (as we will call her) was an energetic nurse in her mid-thirties with two young boys to chase around.  She was an elite runner in her early twenties, but these days walking a few blocks was a painful chore and picking up her kids was nearly impossible.  Pregnancy had done a number on Beth…twice.  She had endured the slow nine months of body changes.  She had powered through the labours and deliveries and ended up with two lovely little boys to watch grow and thrive, but her body as a result decided to stop cooperating with her desired lifestyle.  She went from competitive running, to running a few times a week with discomfort, to just chasing her kids around in pain, to simply walking being a painful task in a period of just a few years.

When Beth first walked into my office she had “tried physio, massage, chiro, core training, prolotherapy and IMS” for her back problems with mixed success.  IMS (intramuscular stimulation) had provided her with the most relief, but she still sat in front of me with a dysfunctional body so she obviously needed something more or different to help her get her body back.  Her goals were simple: walk without pain, play with her toddlers and generally live an active lifestyle.  I had to push her to include running on that list because she had resigned herself to the idea that she would never run again at the age of 37.

To look at her, Beth was a thin, lean looking runner with a big smile on her face and a positive attitude, even though her body had crapped out on her.  She appeared to have all the pieces, so why was she still having so much trouble?  Therapists had massaged her, needled her, stretched her, cracked her and strengthened her but she still couldn’t even walk without significant discomfort in her back.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Case Studies, Low Backs, New Moms Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
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Golf: The fundamentals of movement

Austin's
Movement is a skill and skill is the key component to strength.  If you learn to move well, you will build functional strength.  If you spend time trying to get stronger and ignore movement, you will likely get functionally weaker and be prone to hurting yourself.

Golf is a game about finely controlled movement and cognitive management; two things that elude and frustrate people their whole lives, which is why golf can be so addictive.  How a person approaches a golf game reflects a lot about their personality and their physical body, and both factors tend to contribute to their consistency, power, form and ultimately the number on the scorecard after 18 holes.  It also has a lot to do with how sore they may be during or after a round.

Rotation is the obvious movement pattern that golfers need to master, but it is only one of three movement planes that exist in the golf swing and it is by far the most complex.  It is a mistake to try and address anything to do with rotation until you learn how to move in the forward-back and side-to-side planes first.  I tell my clients that they need to earn the right to rotate by first learning to squat properly and load their legs well.  You would be surprised just how poorly most people bend or squat down, but it is a key part of the address position in a golf swing.

Step 1: Learn where your hips actually are (see video playlist at bottom of post):
–    4 Point Neutral Spine Video
–    4 Point Rock backs Video

In order for your trunk to be able to rotate properly, you need the muscles in your back to be reasonably relaxed because they need to lengthen as your body turns.  The way most people bend or squat ends up creating way too much tension in their back and butt to allow them to freely rotate their trunk. 

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Posted in Blog, Sports Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
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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

Posted in Blog, Fitness, New Moms Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Movement: Your body is the car and you are the driver

2010

Imagine handing the keys of a finely tuned, bright red Porsche 911 to a 16 year old boy, first time driver and saying have fun!  Now imagine telling him 15 years later, after he has been in a few accidents, scratched the paint and  destroyed the clutch that he should have driven more carefully because this is the only car he will ever own for the rest of his life, that he will now have to go for regular tune ups and will probably have to get an artificial clutch and a titanium tire sometime in the next 30 years.  Oh yeah and your shocks will get worse and worse every year.  I hope you had enough fun driving in the first 15 years to make the next 40 years worthwhile!  Sorry I didn’t teach you to drive better!

We watch our kids struggle to reach the gas pedal for years then blindly let them grind the gears of their own bodies through their adolescence.  We put them into sports in key developmental years that unknowingly teach them how to move a particular way and may mold their posture for the rest of their lives.  We tell them to stand up straight with little context of what that means and we start binding their feet with stiff little shoes before they can even walk.

Children are resilient, moldable little sponges that should be given some direction and opportunity to become good drivers in their own bodies.  The trouble is that most parents aren’t particularly good drivers and their kids think that they are invincible until they reach their mid twenties.

Babies can move, but very little of it is intentional.  Most of their movement is created by a series of reflexes that move an entire limb as one unit.  The back extensor muscles develop before the abdominals as the baby figures out how to lift its head up and arch its back. Read More

Posted in Blog, Education, New Moms, Posture Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
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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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Everything your mother taught you about posture is WRONG

Big Myth:

  • Chest up, shoulders back and down is the best posture

Most people think of posture as simply the need to keep your chest up and your shoulders back and down.  Sounds like a simple feat right?!  Then why will most people admit that they think they have bad posture?  The answer to that is because good posture is not a simple thing, it is actually a learned, coordinated skill that encompasses the whole body.  We are what we repeatedly do and our posture is a reflection of our childhood, our sports, our jobs, our emotions and our attitudes.

There is a continuum of flexibility and mobility among the population.  Some people are naturally very loose jointed and hypermobile while others are compressed and stiff as a board.  Where you end up on the spectrum seems to be partly genetic and partly personality.  The people that fall in the middle or the average/normal people tend to have the least pain and injury problems.  The further a person strays in either direction from the average the more and more posture, movement and pain problems they tend to develop.  There is not one perfect posture for everybody, but there is a norm that we should all be trying to achieve no matter which side of normal we are on.

Compressed/Hypomobile——————Average———————-Hypermobile
“Stiff as a board”                                            “Normal”                             “Loosey-goosey”

Our bodies are brilliantly built to deal with gravity as a constant downward force, unfortunately most people don’t know how to use their bodies properly or efficiently and end up with muscle imbalances, pain and dysfunction.  Posture should be looked at as a life skill not a genetic trait we can blame on our parents.  A very basic understanding of anatomy and biomechanics can save people a lot of grief throughout life. Read More

Posted in Blog, Knees, Low Backs, Mid Backs, Necks, Pain, Posture, Shoulders 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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