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!

It's been a while since I've had a chance to share with you some Tips, Tricks, and Info to keep you on Track and making progress. I had quite a few major changes going on on this end over the past couple of months, that literally demanded my attention.

 

But that aside, let's get to it shall we.

 

This past week it has become painfully apparent to me that your Comfort Zone Can Kill You.  I know, you think I'm probably overstating the problem for shock effect, right?  

 

Wrong!

 

I presently have a client, a former triathlon competitor, that originally came to me with concerns about his increasing cholesterol, as well as nagging hip and knee pain. As you would expect it was the usual suspects, tight quads and hip flexors, rounded shoulders from way too many hours in front of the computer, weak glutes from little to no activity since he stopped competing, and of course a weak core.  He regularly attended sessions twice per week.  In addition to those sessions, he was given homework to do so that we could rid him of pain as quickly as possible.

 

Then life happened.  His job began to require him to travel 2 weeks out of the month and POW, the progress we had made slipped backwards.

 

As you might have guessed, the homework he had been doing went out the window, the amount of sitting he was doing had almost doubled, thanks to plane travel, and on top of it all he was not able to keep his regular sessions.  So in essence he had gone back to the comfort zone that had originally created the pain and increasing cholesterol.

 

After reviewing what had transpired we agreed that taking care of himself couldn't be something he would find time for, taking care of himself would something he would have to make time for.

 

You see we all have crazy busy schedules.  I completely respect that.  But what I also know without a doubt, is that if you don't make time for wellness, you will be forced to make time for illness.  Whether it's in the form of physical pain and discomfort or other more serious issues of health.

 

Our plan was simple.  I created a program for him that would take no longer than 15-30 minutes to complete.  We agreed that while it was important to make his scheduled appointments, equally important was that he follow through on his homework each and every day.  That he make time to take care of himself -- whether he was traveling or not.

 

And honestly, I believe that is the difference between getting to your goal or just taking 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.  You've got to make time each and every day to do something for your health. Because just keeping with your same old comfortable routine, could kill you.

 

Need a quick and easy stretch program to make sure you keep on track?

 

Try this one on for size. (Stretches to Keep You Out Of Pain).

 

No more reasons, only results!

 

Welcome to December! Not only are we in the midst of the holiday rush season for Christmas, it also happens to be ski season, or snow boarding as the case may be.

For many of my clients it's the time of year they've been looking forward to all year long.  We've ramped up their training over the past few months to make sure they are in proper condition (think climbing a long flight of stairs and not being out of breath), have great balance and a strong, stable core.  Remember, when it comes to winter sports or activities you are dealing with the added factor of instability because of the ice and snow.  So your program has to be well rounded to avoid possible injury.

You'd be surprised how many times I've watch gym regulars come in on crutches from late December to early February talking about a fall they've taken; some on the slopes, and some actually in the parking lot on the way to the slopes. 

I don't want that for you.  So this month I want to make sure that each of you is ready for your winter activities, whether it's skiing, snow boarding or ice skating.  Each of these activities deals with significant balance issues, having a strong and stable core, as well has having strong, yet flexible hips.  So each week of the month I will share with you warm-up techniques,  stretches, and exercises to make this season your best yet.

Funny thing about me, while I do largely focus on getting people out of pain through the use of self-massage and exercises, I happen to have also gotten really good at helping people avoid pain.  Once you've figured out how to fix a certain problem, it's not long before it becomes clear on what to do to avoid that painful experience all together.

 


For those of you that have been following my posts for any length of time, you know I believe in a proper warm-up.  And a proper warm-up is comprised of two specific elements: 1) self-massage of all the important areas, and 2) a flexibility routine to get your body fully warmed up.


I want to make an important note here regarding warming up.  I know how much I despised it when I first started over 20 years ago.  I really didn't see the value in it and quite honestly felt it was a waste of time.  Well now after years in the business of helping people get out of pain and doing research, I can tell you warming up is worth every minute.  In fact, in most cases injuries occur (minus of course impact injuries like being tackled or falling) due to a poor warm-up routine or no warm-up routine at all.  The muscles have not been adequately prepared for activity (think of trying to stretch a rubber band you've had in the refrigerator all night and then pull it out of the refrigerator and start stretching it vigorously).


So today I will share with you some techniques you may or may not be familiar with regarding self-massage.  Next week I will share with you some stretches to complete your warm-up phase. The following week will move into various exercises to make sure you are seriously ready to tackle the winter festivities.





It's Mid Week Motivation Day.

It continues to both amaze and concern me how many people confuse doing an exercise correctly with just moving around.  Just because a person has low body fat that allows you to see their abs, doesn't mean that person knows how to train their core muscles.  It just means they have low body fat.  It could be from having a great nutrition program or it could be that the person is blessed with a high metabolism and hence low body fat.  One doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the other.

I want all of you to get the right information so that you can avoid injury and get results fast.  Results that will last and you can be proud of.

Check out today's video blog post for more on how to train the right way.

Nov
12
2010
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Sure you could just ignore this valuable bit of information.  I mean you're already in the best shape you ever been in. Why tamper with perfection?

On the other hand, if you're like me and still have tons you would like to accomplish in your life, then taking this valuable bit of information may be a good idea.  I mean why wait till late spring or early summer, like most people do, and then attempt to do some kind of crash abs program to get your abs/core in shape and ready for the warmer weather. 

You know, you do need your core to function properly just as much in the winter as you do the summer.  You're still sitting at a desk for much of the day or stuck in traffic behind the wheel on your commute. Remember that's how back pain starts, being stuck in awkward positions for extended periods of time. 

But then again, back pain is not such a big deal, right?  Yeah, keep telling yourself that . . . . . . or you could click on the video below and be ahead of the game.



Check back next week for another core movement to keep you on track and ahead of the rest of the pack.
Here we are at week 4 on my campaign to fight SB Syndrome.  Doesn't seem to matter where I turn, the affects still seem to be with us.  But to do my part, here is the next movement for you, or someone you know, to use to fight SB Syndrome. 

Remember, it's not just about vanity, it's also about keeping your core functioning and your lower back out of pain.  The glute/butt muscles play an important role in keep you out of pain. Because if they are too weak or not used appropriately your back and other muscles try to take over. And if you've ever had nagging back pain you know how uncomfortable and irritating it can be. So do your part. Feel free to pass on the info.

Be sure to stop by next week for another great movement to help you fight SB Syndrome.

Oct
08
2010
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Well, as promised, this month we are focusing on eradicating SB Syndrome.  And as promised, here is another exercise to help you or someone you know (wink), get rid of the apparent growing syndrome I have observed.

Today's video is an explanation and demonstration of how to effectively do a very common exercise, the lunge.  All too often people seem more interested in immediately grabbing weights and doing one of the more advanced versions, traveling lunges (walking), instead of getting the basics right first.

Check out today's video so that you're sure to get the most out of your lunges, And doing your part to conquer SB Syndrome.

If you'll remember last week I shared with you 7 of The Most Important Stretches if you spend your day at a desk.  Well as promised here's the other half of the equation.  Stretching is only half of the solution to getting out of pain.  The other half is Massage. And if you can't get to a massage therapist as often as you'd like, self-massage is the next best thing.  It provides many of the same benefits, loosening tight muscles and breaking up scar tissue that accumulates from either working out or from poor posture for long periods of time (think sitting over a desk working).

Truth be known, it only takes 7 minutes to feel the relief of self-massage.  But if you really want to get all of the "bugs" out, and really break-up that tight tissue, try 15-30 minutes of the techniques I demonstrate in the videos below.  Whether it's 7 minutes, or 15-30 minutes, it's a small price to pay to get out of pain and stay that way.  And for those of you that are really serious about kicking pain out on it's ear, do your self-massage followed by your stretching and watch how fast you get results.

And if you don't have your own tube, please visit my store and pick up your Energy F/X Tube. I promise it will last much longer than you're average tube or roller. I use my Energy F/X Tube 8-10 hours a day, 6 days a week with clients and it's still going strong over 1yr later!






After last Friday's post I received quite a few emails regarding which were the most important stretches. "I don't have time to do them all Kurt, c'mon."  So I thought it might be a good idea if I broke the stretches down into groups so that you can use them more effectively.

By and large most of my clientele spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk.  They tell me that they have few if any opportunities to get up from their desk for any length of time. And if they do, it's usually to go to a meeting where they spend anywhere from 2-4hrs sitting again. 

As all of you know, who have been following my posts, sitting for long periods of time has significant consequences to your body.  Especially your lower back, knees and sometimes wrists (depending how much time you spend on the computer).  So let's get rid of that pain and discomfort.

Below I have listed the 7 most important stretches if you're a person who is stuck at a desk for most of the day.

I would encourage you to do these stretches a minimum of 1x/day. They will take you approximately 15-30 minutes to do.  Not much time to invest to get out of pain.  Think about it for a second.  You spend 4-8 hours sitting.  I'm just asking for 30 minutes a day to get you out of pain, and help you decrease your stress level. Sounds like a good investment to me.

 This is Stretch#1.

Position your body with your right leg bent at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your back leg with the toe facing the floor. Position your upper body so that your knee is in line with your sternum (chest bone). Hips should be parallel to the floor.  You should feel no pain in the knee. If you do stop immediately. This pose is also know as Pigeon.

Hold position for 7 breaths.
 

This is Stretch #2.


Begin on your knees, with your knees out wide, resting on forearms. Then straighten one leg out to the side. Be sure that the toe of the straight leg is in line with the knee of the kneeling leg. If possible, reach out to touch toe of straight leg with same side hand.


Repeat movement 3 times on both sides.


 This is Stretch #3.

With your calves against the supporting surface take a medium to large step forward. Place one foot, shoe strings down, on the stable support surface behind you. Kneeling down bring the back leg knee to the floor. Now if you're just beginning you may need to place a pillow under your knee for cushion and to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Be sure that the front leg knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the shin is perpendicular to the floor.

Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on other side.



This is Stretch#4.

Begin with your head, forearms, shoulder blades, and butt against the wall.  Feet should be 6-8" away from wall. Make sure there is minimal space between your lower back and wall.
 


Ending position for Stretch #4.

Extend your arms up and out into a 'Y' position. Be sure to keep forearms and hands in contact with the wall at all times.

Repeat movement 7-10 times.


This is Stretch #5.

Taking a lunge position halfway through a doorway, use this inverted 'V', place your hands on a door frame and gently lean forward until a stretch is felt in the shoulder, chest and/or arms. Make sure your weight is evenly balanced between the front and back leg.

Hold this position for 5-7 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.


This is Stretch #6.


Stand straight and clasp your hands behind your back.



Ending position Stretch #6.

Tuck hips underneath you (by flexing your butt) and tighten your stomach, move clapsed hands towards floor, while pulling shoulders back and lifting chest. This should create erect posture. Be sure not to arch lower back.

Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat 3-5 times.


This is Stretch#7 (1/3).
This stretch is often called Child's Pose. From a kneeling position, toes pointed straight back, sit backwards so that you are sitting on the heels of your shoes. Reach forward with both arms, far enough to feel a stretch in the lower back and shoulders.

Hold for 7-10 seconds
 


Stretch #7 (2/3)

Keeping your legs where they are at, engage your abs and move both arms to the right until a stretch is felt on the left side of the body. Think of making your body into a half circle. Be sure to remain seated on your heels.


Hold for 7-10 seconds.



Stretch #7 (3/3).

Now do the same process you did for the above picture for the left side.

Hold for 7-10 seconds.

Well, there you go.  The 7 most important stretches for those of you who spend way too many hours seated at your desk.  These quick 7 should get you out pain and help you stay that way. 

As always let me know what you think.