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. 

Jan
31
2012
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I'm not sure how many of you get a chance to read Competitor Magazine, but I just wanted to make a quick post to share an article I did for them in December of 2011.

 

If you spend your day at a desk, here's a great reminder on how to get out of pain, or to keep yourself from having pain.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

And of course if you're interested in reading the original article --

 

The 7 Most Important Stretches If You Spend Your Day At A Desk

 

What you focus on is what you create.  That being said, be aware of challenges, but focus on the success!

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!

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.


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.


Just a few days ago, while waiting for my client to arrive, I watched a guy with low body fat (think lean), proceed to do his ab routine.  He did the typical knee raises, crunches on knees using the cable, and a few others that are too difficult to effectively explain here.  Let's just say it was an extensive routine, full of complicated and high level core movements. 

But you know what?

Almost each and every ab/core movement he chose, he performed incorrectly.  I was honestly concerned whether he was going to literally injure his spine throughout the entire routine.

Now, please understand I'm not being pompous or arrogant.  The movements, by the way he was executing them, were literally putting his spine in danger.  He maintained little to no stabilization in his mid section while performing each of his movements, and when he became tired (fatigued) his form became even worse.

Of course I commented respectively, "That's quite a core routine you have laid out for yourself.  Those are some really advanced core movements".  Beaming he responded, "Yeah, I just saw it in (fitness name omitted) magazine.  They said it will give me a great core in a few weeks". 

This is the exact kind of the thing that burns my you know what!

There are progressions to every movement/exercise.  There is a starting level, and numerous levels in between leading to the more advance versions (simple versions to more complex versions).  As in life, the goal is to start simply and slowly progress upward to more challenging forms and versions. 

Why?

So you don't injure yourself.  Do any movement, no matter how easy it seems, the wrong way long enough, and you will get injured.  Just because someone has a 6-pack does not mean they know how to train their core properly.  Having great genetics or good nutrition habits is what makes you lean. It doesn't dictate the quality of your core training.

And for goodness sakes, just because it's in a magazine doesn't make it the right way to train.  Magazine articles are written to help sell magazines.  Not necessarily to properly instruct you on the progressions of a certain movement/exercise.  Be clear, it's to sell magazines.

I want each of you to succeed in having a strong stable core.  And believe me when I tell you, you can't do it, build a strong core, if you're injured.

Start your core training movements utilizing the floor as your initial support surface.  Then try moving to do single leg versions of something like hip raises, for instance.  Then you would progress to a Swiss Ball, as this would provide even more challenge to your stability.  From there you could move to suspension straps, etc.  Now realize the above is merely a suggested guide as to how to properly progress your core training forward and not hurt yourself in the process.

It's more about how they function -- not just how they look.

Check out today's progression.

Nov
05
2010
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Last month I shared with you some exercises to help you fight SB Syndrome.  And if you've been practicing/using them regularly you know how well they work.

This month I want to share some exercises for the core.  I know many people, some of them even trainers, believe that the elusive 6-pack is all about how many crunches you do each week.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  While doing abdominal exercises will indeed tone the midsection, nutrition is the larger key in creating that all important 6-pack that so many people desire.  However, now here's the kicker, just because you have a 6-pack, doesn't mean that you have a strong core or that your abs work effectively.

The bottom line is that you have to do both: core/ab exercises as well as a proper nutrition program in order to get that "ripped" midsection look.  And you know me, it's not just about the vanity aspect of having a nice set of abs.  There is an all important functional aspect as well.  How well your core functions (as well as your glutes if you'll remember last months posts) often determines whether or not you'll have back pain. Want to get rid of back pain or just make sure you don't ever have to experience it, try the movements I'll share with you each Friday this month and I can almost guarantee you won't have to worry about pain in your lower back.

Here's the first movement I'd like to share to help you get your core in shape and looking good.

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.

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.