I have to admit that I see people using the foam rollers and other self massage techniques more than ever before, but it still surprises me how many people still don't know the benefits.

 

Whether it's new clients or the regular gym members that consult me on how to get out of pain, I have to tell you self-massage has got to be one of the most underrated "get out of pain and speed healing" techniques I know.

 

It doesn't matter if you spend your day sitting at a desk, are a weekend warrior with some nagging aches and pains, or a competitive athlete looking to decrease soreness and improve performance, self-myofascial release (self-massage) works.

 

As the old saying goes, “sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees”?  This morning I was reminded of just “how deep in the trees” I am.


I was approached by a woman that I see regularly at the gym who asked me how to get rid of her knee pain she's had for the past 4 weeks.  She stated that she enjoyed Spinning, long bike rides on the weekends, but spend most of her day at her desk at work. In addition, after sitting for long periods of time, standing up is quite painful, though the pain decreases after moving around for a bit. I asked had she had any falls or other impact to her knee and she stated, "No".

 

She also said that she had begun stretching, but that only made a minor difference in the pain. It’s gotten to the point now where she is unable to enjoy her usual cycling and it's beginning to make her depressed.

 

I asked, “Do you do any self-myofascial release or self-massage”?  She said, “What’s that”?  I then proceeded to demonstrate some techniques using my Energy F/X Tube.

 

While I was demonstrating the techniques it hit me...

 

I take for granted that many people don’t know about the benefits of self-myofascial release.  In a nutshell, self-myofascial release is a type of self-massage using a hard roller, tube or ball.  It helps break up scar tissue and increases blood flow to the affected area.  Not to mention it can increase your range of motion and improve performance.

Many weekend warriors and sedentary people end up feeling stiff and hurting, and mistakenly believe there is something wrong with their joints that might require surgery.  In fact, most of the time all they need to do is regular self-myofascial release.

 

Before you give up hope and think the only alternative to being in pain is surgery, check out the videos below where I demonstrate how to use self-myofascial release techniques to get out of pain.  It's simple to do, and literally doesn't take more than a few minutes a day.  







 

 

As always, let me know how these techniques worked for you.  And if you need to buy the Energy F/X tube, go to http://energyfxfitness.com/_product_78512/Energy_FX_Tube to order it. 

I try to be a bit intuitive when it comes to writing my posts.  So after being asked for the fourth time this week about ankle pain, knee pain, and the benefits of Orthotics; I figured that was my hint to provide you with some sound information so that you can make the decision.

 

Do you have ankle pain, heel pain, or knee pain?  Have you been told that Orthotics was the only solution to your problem?

 

Well I have a surprise for you.

 

The first thing I want to share with you quickly is that the ankle is an unbelievably complex joint.  It can affect everything from having proper posture, to whether or not you experience shoulder pain, believe it or not.

 

Often orthotics are suggested as a way to address ankle issues or poor bio-mechanics in walking or running.  And without a doubt, in many cases the pain issue is addressed -- at least in the short term.

 

You see orthotics are like any other brace, splint or crutch, they provide support to a weak area.  So if certain muscles are not working properly, the orthotics provide the necessary support to relieve the overworked muscles that are creating the pain.  However, like any support mechanism, it is only meant to be used for a short period of time. During this "assistance phase" you should also be working to both strengthen and increase the range of motion (mobility) of the area -- in this case the ankle.

 

Think of it this way.  Let's say your legs are sore and tired. To deal with this issue you decide to use a wheel chair in order to relieve the discomfort.  After several months you get rid of the wheel chair and go back to your normal routine.  Would your legs be any better prepared to deal with your routine?

 

Probably not!

 

You see unless you've done some specific work to strengthen the weak areas that were leaving your legs feeling sore and tired, the problem will just re-surface.  And in some cases even get worse or cause other problems.

 

Now this is not to say that some people do not sincerely need orthotics, for example, those with significant differences in leg length, or other structural issues, etc.  What I am saying is that many times people use orthotics as a quick fix to a much larger problem -- that of weak and stiff ankles and/or hips.

 

Below I've included one excellent article and 3 basic videos that I believe are very helpful when it comes to both alleviating ankle pain, and/or strengthening the area before problems begin. 

 

So before you decide on committing to orthotics indefinitely, give these movements (stretches and exercises) a try.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Plantar Fasciitis Exercises (great overall article for ankle health)

 

The Alphabet Exercise for Ankle Pain (video below)

 






 

This is obviously not the last word on improving the function of your ankle or eliminating pain, but these videos should provide you with an excellent start.

 

Remember, don't let your commitment to comfort stop you from being healthy!

We made it to the end of another productive week.

Since it's Friday I wanted to make sure to share with you another exercise to add to your locker of exercises to keep your routines fun, fresh, and challenging.

I've received a few questions asking for alternatives to jumping rope during circuit training.  Not everyone likes, nor can handle the impact of rope jumping.  You're in luck.  I have just the movement to help keep your hips flexible, your core working and your heart rate moving.

When I was a kid the movement was called squat thrusts and part of the Presidents Fitness Council protocol that we all had to do as part of Physical Education class.  Well times are a changing for sure, but this exercise is still one of the most challenging cardio movements I know.  The beauty of the movement is that no matter what your fitness level almost anyone can do it in modified form. 

It's a great movement to use between 3-5 resistance (weight lifting) movements to keep your heart rate elevated and give that "sprint" feeling (think interval training) between the lower heart rate of weight lifting.  In addition, because we tend to sit so much as a society, it allows you an opportunity to keep your hips flexible and functional so you can decrease your chances of back pain from stiff, inflexible hips.

In the video below I share with you 4 different versions that should meet just about any fitness level. 

So now you have no more excuses for not including a cardio component in your circuits.

And as a side note, always remember to engage your core as your perform this movement.

Happy July 4th.  As promised here you go!

I feel like it's time for this post.  Whether it's in person at the gym, or through email, people often ask me, "what are the things I absolutely have to do to get my body to change quickly".  Now 9 times out of 10 I usually try to avoid this question because if I give you the 5 things that absolutely need to be done, most people do 3.  And then they wonder why they aren't getting results. 

But, I figure I've been asked enough at this point that it's about time to give you the secrets to getting the body you want in as short a period of time as possible.

Ready?

There are literally 5 things that you absolutely have to do to get your body to change quickly.  You follow these 5 rules and I can virtually guarantee you will get the body you want in as short a period of time as possible.  This isn't based on theory, these are the techniques I use with my clients that get results fast!

1.) Warm-up:
Take the time to do a good 10-15 minute warm-up. And I don't mean going to jump on some piece of cardio equipment. Research shows that's a waste of 10-15 minutes.  Instead, do some self massage.  It will serve the same purpose of getting your body ready for exercise, and even better, it helps to alleviate the knots and tight muscles that come from sitting or standing all day long.  Truth be known, it will also decrease your chances of injury dramatically.  Need a little reminder (self-massage warm-up)

Follow this warm-up with some good old fashioned stretching.  Yes, the jury is still deliberating as to whether stretching is beneficial, but my experience has been it works wonders to prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. Here's a quick reminder on the stretches (warm-up stretches)

2.) Core:
From what I can tell too many people leave training their midsection to last, when they are tired from their workout.  And then if they do actually train their abs/core, it's half-hearted at best, usually only doing some kind of crunches, and thus get little to no benefit.  Training your core is as important, if not more important, than any other body part. Here's couple to get you started (core exercise examples)

3.) Resistance:
If I haven't done a good job of it before, let me clarify now, if you want to change your body and get lean, resistance exercise is the absolutely the best way to do this.  And to the women out there who think lifting weights will make you bulky, not so. Women typically do not produce enough testosterone to even come close to creating the bulky physique they worry about.

That being said, resistance training doesn't have to be lifting weights.  You can use bands, suspension straps, or traditional weights if you prefer.

Circuit                                                                                 Circuit   
Squats (with flavor -- see my you tube channel)                Squats (with flavor --you tube channel)
Lateral Raises                                                                     Chest Press (dumbbell)
Split Squats                                                                        Rear Deltoids
Push ups                                                                             Lunge (back) to Bicep Curls
Deadlifts                                                                             Deadlifts
Back (seated row)                                                               Triceps
Step up to balance and shoulder press                                  Pull-ups
Bicep Curls (dumbbell)                                                         Lunge (back) to Shoulder Press
Tricep Push-downs                                                               Breast Stroke (see you tube channel)
Jump Rope --- 70-100 times                                                 Jump Rope -- 70-100 times
                                                                                        
Circuit_3_Cheat_Sheet.pdf                                            Circuit_3a_Cheat_Sheet.pdf

4.) Cardio:
If you've been following my blogs for any length of time you know I'm big on doing intervals for cardio.  Because it gets the job done quickly with minimal damage to the knees, hips, and lower back.

Equally effective and a big favorite of mine is kettle bells.  With some proper instruction, this activity is the absolute best for burning calories, strengthening your core, as well as building some solid muscle in the hips and glutes (butt).

Follow this program with a good cool down stretch (the same movements you did to warm-up) and you should be on your way to a transformed body in a few weeks.

5.) Nutrition:
I'll keep this short, as this is becoming a bit long.  Whether you call it the Paleo diet, Mediterranean diet or anything else, staying with lean meats, minimal starchy carbs such as breads and pastas, plenty of veggies, and some nuts is the best way to go.  Need a little more clarification?  Here you go (nutrition made easy).

Get on Track and Stay on Track!
Jun
24
2011
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I think summer is finally here.  Feels good to have the sun out again. 

That being said, how's your body transformation going?  Still feeling motivated and getting it all done?

Or could you use a little variety to your same old routine?

Honestly, that's why I change my workout routine every 4 weeks or less.  I need the variety to help keep me motivated and challenged to reaching new levels of fitness and conditioning.

Today I want to share with you a push up version using the suspension straps -- 1- Arm Push-ups. It's a great body weight exercise that I promise will challenge you.  Even if you typically do chest press as part of your overall routine, this movement will not only activate your chest, but challenge your core as well.

  TGIF!

Hope you've had a great week.  I thought it was time to get back to some good old fashioned exercise examples.  Remember, part of staying motivated and part of breaking through plateaus quickly, is exercise variety.  The more you can challenge your body effectively, the more you will continue to progress and transform. 

So since the warmer weather is upon us, it's time to kick it up a notch.  I'm sure you're familiar with the all too common lunge.  Great exercise for shaping the butt, building hip and glute strength, and it's one of the basic movements the human body is supposed to be able to do effectively.

Well, here's little a twist to add to it.  I think you'll find it's a heck of a lot harder than it looks.  Provides a great core challenge as well as good kick in the butt!

Check back with me in two weeks for another exercise to put in your own training locker.  The more movements you have, the more you stay motivated and making progress.

Just this morning I was approached by a regular I know from the gym asking how to get rid of shoulder and elbow pain.  He was complaining of numbness running down his arm and just an overall ache. He admitted having the habit of sleeping on his shoulders, and leaning to that same side while watching TV in his favorite chair. And of course still insists on doing heavy bench press with a barbell. 

I helped him understand that it was quite possible that the elbow pain he was experiencing was likely due the the lack of alignment in his shoulder.  And it may be possible that merely stretching and aligning his shoulder could allow his elbow to reset itself.  If not, I had an excellent sports chiropractor I could refer.

Knowing him, I realized I was not likely going to talk him out of doing heavy bench press with a barbell.  At least not yet anyway. 

So I gave him a little taste of what I've been sharing you all this past month. We first went through some specific rotator cuff movements to warm the shoulder capsule.  Then I showed him some general stretches to open up the chest and shoulder area.  Followed by the movements from my previous posts this month, as well as the one below.

Whether it's to get rid of pain or avoid having it in the first place, don't neglect your shoulder -- rotator cuff work. 

Here's this week's shoulder saver.


Apr
15
2011
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I know you're going to think I made this up, but it is 100% true. 

Not more than a week ago, a client of mine expressed that he was having pain in his right shoulder and neck area, and couldn't figure out why. 

So we reviewed the new movements he was doing in his program -- actually had him go through a few of them.  No, those didn't seem to be creating any discomfort. 

We talked about his work -- the amount of hours sitting at his desk have actually gotten less over the past the few months. 

So we explored what has changed at home -- outside of the obvious -- he recently had a child.  --BINGO!--  Originally, he didn't notice it, but recently he's been picking his newborn up more, carrying him, and holding him for extended periods.  So far that has really been the only change that he can think of in his daily and weekly routine.

This is not the first time I've heard this.  Trainers, clients and friends have all commented at one time or another about one shoulder being more sore than the other a few weeks or months after having a child.

And 9 times out of 10, you know what else?

When they are consistent with their shoulder stretches and exercises the shoulder pain goes away -- mysteriously.

I shared this client's experience because I have worked with literally hundreds of people, that start using one shoulder more than the other, each for different reasons, and end up with the same, "I don't know what's going on, but this shoulder has really started bother me", experience. 

Shoulder pain can come from the most common activities that we do everyday and don't think about it for a second.  Whether it's a wonderful new addition to the family, the posture you sit/lay in while watching TV or reading the paper, a laptop, sleeping on your shoulders, or too many pressing movements at the gym.  Shoulder pain is often times just an issue of alignment.

Practice the stretches I've shared with you along with the shoulder movements from this month and you'll be out of shoulder pain fast!

Don't just take my word for it -- Try them.


Apr
08
2011
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They say over 70% of people experience some form of back pain than that stops them from doing what they enjoy.  I'd be willing to bet at least that same amount of people experience some form of shoulder pain that does the same thing -- stop you from enjoying the life you deserve. 

Last week I shared with you that shoulder pain doesn't just come from doing lots of pressing movements in the gym, it can also come from just living life. The main thing to understand is that keeping your shoulders healthy requires specific exercises that you won't see the average gym person doing.

Why?

Because 9 times out of 10 most people train their body to create a certain look. Not taking into consideration how it functions. So most often you'll witness people training the muscles they can see, rather than the muscles that matter.  It doesn't matter what you look like if you can't do the things you truly enjoy doing.
                 
I don't care if it's tennis, golf, boxing, softball, beach volleyball, rollerblading or gardening; as long as it's something you truly enjoy doing. Something that, when you do it, makes your hard week of work all seem worth it.  And the only way to be able to continue to do "that" activity or get you back to enjoying "that" activity, is to take good care of your body by training the muscles that matter as well as the ones you can see.

So here is the your next installment for getting you out of shoulder pain or making sure you don't ever have to experience it. 


Well, let's get right to it shall we.

This month I want to focus on helping you get out of shoulder pain.  Far too many people suffer from it and there is honestly no reason to continue to live with it. 

I can't tell you how many times I see someone getting up from doing a bench press and rubbing their shoulder.  Instant hint that there is something going on that's about to get much worse in the shoulder.  But shoulder exercises and rotator cuff exercises are not just for those that do bench pressing movements.  Heck No!




Spend your day hunched over a computer?

Carry your child around the mall or at the park?

Tend to carry your purse or laptop on one shoulder consistently?

Sleep on your shoulders?

If you answered YES to any of the questions above, then this month is especially for you. 

Our shoulders take a beating day in and day out.  In our society we live our life in a forward posture all too often.  This constant forward posture can lead to all sorts of problems, from the obvious shoulder pain or discomfort, to neck pain, and yes, believe it or not, even lower back pain.

Everything is connected!

If you spend your day in poor posture, no matter what the reason, it's only a matter of time before your body starts giving you signals that something is wrong.  Now like most people you'll probably solve the problem by first avoiding the movements or activities that give you pain or discomfort.  But that is only a short term fix.  That's kind of like turning up the volume on the car radio when you hear a rattling noise in your car.  And as we all know, turning up the radio won't fix the rattle.  Likewise avoiding certain movements or activities won't make the problem in your shoulders go away either.

It's an alignment issue most likely. All of that hunching over the computer, sleeping on your shoulders, etc. all lead to creating a misalignment in your shoulders.  And like your car tires, a misalignment is only going to wear your shoulder joint out sooner.  But of course not before it gives you a great deal of pain in the process.

So every Friday this month I will share with you an exercise you can do to help re-align your shoulders.  But of course being me, I want to get as much out of the movement as I can, so I'm going to ask you to perform these movements using a Swiss Ball.  Using the Swiss Ball will force you to activate your core (think tensing your abdominal muscles).  In this way you'll get a bit of core training while getting your shoulder back in alignment.

Always remember, when performing these movements be sure to keep your shoulders and ears as far apart as possible.  The goal is to put your shoulders back in alignment, under your ears.  I also want to encourage you to keep as much space as you can between your shoulders and ears.  So during the movements be sure to reach for your ankles as you proceed backwards in each of the movements.