Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Free Workouts, Posture, Wellness

Knee pain: It’s not complicated (usually)

After seeing an older woman in the clinic the other day a few weeks into her post-knee replacement rehabilitation- her daughter approached me stating she knew she was headed in the same direction as here mom (aka, was already having knee and hip pain in her life) and wanted to know if there was anything she could do to prevent the process.. or if it was just inherent that she too would eventually have to replace a joint or two.

If there is one thing I want to get across to people it’s that nothing to do with our health is guaranteed.

What I mean by that is.. just because you have a family history of something does not mean it can’t be prevented or course corrected. ESPECIALLY when it comes to our movement health!

When it comes to the knees.. generally the actual problem is coming from the hips and/or feet. I refer to the knee as a bridge joint. It is designed to improve efficiency of transit, absorb and transfer force. If the lines of force get messed with (aka you lack stability in the joints above and below), then the efficiency of that joint and it’s movement go right out the window. Stress builds up and that leads to warning signs (pain), inflammation, stiffening, and of course eventually degeneration of the structures within the joint. This can present via tendonopathies, osteoarthritis, runner’s knee/jumper’s knee (both tendonopathies), patellofemoral syndrome or patellar chondromalacia, and even increase your risk of ACL/MCL and meniscal injuries.

Barring external trauma (but yes postural dysfunction can even contribute to the risk of this), pain and issues in the knee generally are coming from above or below.

This is why I always recommend those passionate about running or other repetitive movement based activities get their gait screened by a professional. Catching dysfunction early and prescribing appropriate corrective movements is key in preventing problems down the chain.

Here are 4 “simple” exercises I prescribe routinely to clients experiencing knee/hip/back pain or rehabbing a joint replacement.

1. Clamshells.

You’ve probably seen these before. Designed to activate the lateral stabilizers in the hip, you should feel the burn on the top side of your hip as that is where the activation should come from. Laying on your side with knees bent to approx. 90deg, hips and ankles stacked- clamshell the knee open lifting from the hip. Do not let your hips fall backwards, they should remain stacked and level throughout the movement. Hold the clam at the top range of motion (wherever you can raise to without your hip sliding back!) for 10seconds, slowly return back to the start position.

Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 routinely in your day. The more you activate the muscles properly, the more the brain makes it automatic.

2. Gait Activation

Laying on your stomach, tuck your chin to lift your head (nose should remain pointed down to the ground!), and squeeze your butt cheeks together. Holding and maintaining this position, press opposite arm and leg to the ground while lifting the other opposite limbs off the floor. Hold for 4seconds, switch and repeat process.

This activates Deep postural muscles and connects the brain to a proper gait transfer pattern. It also cues butt activation and neck stabilizers.

Repeat 3-5round of 20 a day.

3. Single Leg Bridging

If you struggle with regular bridging, this is a advanced progression- so work towards it with holds before movements. Glute activation is key here!

Finding your bridge, lift one leg off the ground maintaining your glute activation. Lower the pelvis down half way and then push back up to full bridge on the one leg. Your hips should be the pivot point, not your low back! Core should remain strong, and glutes should be the main push to full hip extension. Drive up through the supporting heel to help engage the back half of the body/butt.

Repeat 6-10/leg for 3 – 5 rounds.

4. Side Bridges

Classic hip hinging activation exercise. All these movements also double as releases for the front of the hip (tight hip flexors anyone??).

On your side, supported by your elbow, shoulder, and core activation, pivoting from the knees- use glutes to actively push hips up and forward through a hinge motion. Hold at the top for 5-10seconds, then sit back and down through the hip hinge.

Common mistakes here: slouching into the shoulder (push UP through the ground/elbow and squeeze shoulder blades together), lack of core activation/bracing allowing for the spine to hinge instead of the hips (think of a squat motion at the hips!), lifting up THEN forwards.. try and make this simultaneous, as if your hips are moving up and down a ramp.

Repeat 6-12x for rounds of 3-5. Great used as a warm-up to other activities.

You would also do well to add in some foot exercises! @thefootcollective on instagram is one of my fav resources- but you can also refer to our existing post about old person feet here!

Struggling to figure these out? We offer complimentary movement assessments and consults to new clients. Prevention and rehab programs for all sorts of clients are available. Have questions? Leave a comment or find us directly at katmahtraining@gmail.com. We’re always happy to help you get your movement right!

Have fun kids!

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Equestrian, Free Workouts, Motor Learning, strength training, Weight Loss, Wellness

At your age…

Here’s a fun tidbit I hear OFTEN second hand from clients after their friends/family/peers find out what their training and therapy plans consist of…

“At your age, should you really be lifting weights?”

“Isn’t weight training dangerous for your joints? Does that really help you feel better?”

“Aren’t you worried about getting injured again?”

“I heard that weight training is bad for you- doesn’t it cause arthritis”

First off.. I’m honestly not sure where people are finding that last bit of information from, at this point in our history. Secondly I’m also endlessly grateful that I’ve stopped frequently hearing that weight training will make women bulky- at last that myth has been put out of it’s misery. Third off- weight training is highly effective for arthritis rehabilitation and management- WHEN IT IS DONE CORRECTLY. The only time it’s going to cause arthritis is if you don’t do it in good form. This is why having the guidance of a trained professional is imperative when starting any new program. At the very least get a movement assessment and see where you need to work!

Would I tell someone of ANY age to just go and start lifting weights (no matter how much)? NOPE.

Do I prescribe and coach programs for ALL ages (yes, all the way up to 90-somethings- seriously) that involve various amounts of loaded movements, functional movements, dynamic movements, and stability training? You bet I do!

Here’s the neat things about the body.. it works on an adaptation based system. Which means- invariably- to IMPROVE our systems we have to STRESS our systems.

Here’s the feedback I get from my dedicated clients:

“I don’t wake up at 3am anymore with back pain”

“I sleep through the night and don’t wake up stiff in the mornings anymore”

“I don’t get tired during the day”

“My joints aren’t bugging me as much since I started training”

“I’m making healthier choices elsewhere in my life since starting this training routine.”

“I FEEL GOOD”

When we apply GOOD, healthy stress to our system- things change for the better. We also develop a higher tolerance for negative stressors, which means we function just overall more kick ass.

It no longer new information that the mind and the body are one coordinating unit.

Exercise, movement- of any kind- is the BEST and most EFFECTIVE medicine. The stats support it. Check these out.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, if we were to decrease the number of inactive Canadians by even 10%, we’d see a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality and major savings in health care. It is in fact estimated that more than $2.4 billion, or 3.7 per cent of all healthcare costs, were attributed to the direct cost of treating illness and disease due to physical inactivity1. The financial impact of poor health amounts to a loss of more than $4.3 billion to the Canadian economy, and the negative repercussions of inactivity cost the healthcare system $89 billion per year in Canada2. According to several studies, properly structured and supported exercise program, designed and delivered by a kinesiologist can, among other benefits:

  • Reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease by 40%;
  • Reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 50% and be twice as effective as standard insulin in treating the condition;
  • Help the function of muscles for people affected by Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis;
  • Decrease depression as effectively as pharmacological or behavioural therapy;5
  • Reduce the risk of stroke by 27%;
  • Reduce the risk of colon cancer by 60%;
  • Reduce mortality and risk of recurrent cancer by 50%;

(Based on year 2009. Jansen et al., 2012 2 Based on year 2013. 3 Cardiorespiratory fitness is an independent predictor of hypertension incidence among initially normotensive healthy women.
Barlow CE et al. Am J Epidemiol 2006; 163:142-50. 4 Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. DPP Research Group. New England Journal of Medicine 2002; 346:393-403. 5 Exercise treatment for depression: efficacy and dose response.
Dunn A et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2005. 6 Physical activity and colon cancer: confounding or interaction? Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
June 2002 – Volume 34 – Issue 6 – pp 913-919)

Weight training- when done intelligently for each individual- is just as effective as other types of exercise in improving health. It has it’s own set of extra benefits and of course risk factors. Just like that Tylenol you like to pop for your back pain.

There is no one way to utilize the benefits of movement. Some people to pick things up and put them down.. others like to yoga.. some like to do step classes, and others just like to go for regular walks and stretch. IT’S ALL GOOD.

The biggest emphasis I am trying to make is that adding weight to your routine when you’re doing it correctly for YOUR SYSTEM (this is where the help of a trained professional often comes in), you’re looking at more resilience throughout your body and mind.

Don’t knock it til you try it 😉

(With the correct prescription and educated advice, of course!)

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Equestrian, Motor Learning, Posture, Weight Loss, Wellness

If it ain’t broke.. The right way to move

Is there a correct way to move?

This is a question that has plagued therapists, trainers, and clients since the age of time.

Actually.. probably not that long.

The evolution of health and movement is one to be admired- in that, we’ve gone from quadruped beings, to walking, running, bipedal masterpieces, to what we are now.

We’re at an interesting point in movement science. We’ve somewhat regressed in our movement ability. While yes, we are still bipedal, upright beings- we no longer spend much of our time moving around in a variety of ways.

Now we move from point a-b-c-d in condensed timeframes, spending majority of our time between 3 positions (or variations of..): standing, seated, and laying down.

The author of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, points out that the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions not only may have ended our movement ability, but also may have birthed the beginnings of the various chronic illnesses and pain that affects us today.

Modern Day practitioners have been preaching alignment for decades already, and certainly our posture and ability to move has a huge impact on our overall wellbeing.. but is there such a thing as the “perfect” posture or alignment? Is there one optimal way to move?

The truth is yes, but also.. no.

There is certainly a most efficient way to move- in that, we will put minimal stressors on our structure and expend the least amount of energy to create that movement. There is a general textbook answer to this optimal alignment.

As an aside- it’s common to hear practitioners saying that one of your legs is longer then the other, or your pelvis is out of alignment.. when often the truth is some asymmetries are NORMAL to a certain degree.

We all have one shoulder that will be slightly depressed based on our hand dominance. We all have slight differences in how our rib cage sits, because of our anatomy (the left side has less lung in it to account for the heart- causing a shift between left and right), and where the rib cage goes the hips follow. Our body works in a chain like system- one link compensates for the next.. and while many compensations cause other problems, not all asymmetries are bad or abnormal. This will also change based on the mental health and perception an individual holds on pain, stress, and their systemic health. The debates on these fuel many research articles and books already. Stay tuned for more discussion on those topics and how movement relates to them.

When it really comes down to it, our movement is as unique as we are- and what is the best way to move for one person may not always mirror the best way to move for another person. We’re designed to be adaptable beings, and our postures should be just as adaptable.

Wait.. haven’t you been preaching posture and biomechanics your whole career?

Yes.. and while there may be differences across our spectrum of movement- majority of us inherit similar postural dysfunctions.. it’s very rare to find someone who moves well, even though there is no set checklist for what exactly moving well means.

Moving poorly in relation to your body can create a vicious cycle of degeneration, causing pain, causing less movement, causing more negative health outcomes. You can get enough movement, but if you don’t move well- you can actually do harm to your body which results in less movement.

For that reason *usually the first step with clients is to assess and correct how they move. From there we build a foundation of efficient movement, and build their movement habits on top of that foundation.

While I can’t say there is one right way to move, I can say that it is very rare to find someone with obviously inefficient movement without some sort of history of pain. The thing about pain is that it may not even present as physical pain.. it may be present in the form of gastrointestinal issues, or undue mental states. Our structure represents our internal framework too- and that can be a chicken or the egg scenario.

Many movement based practitioners will offer within their consult with you a movement screen. If you’re looking for an assist with your health, this is one of the things you should look to your professional to do. Cookie-cutter exercise programs, apps, and group fitness classes are convenient and cost effective- but the grain of salt there is if you get injured or develop pain because you’re movement wasn’t properly screened before starting a program- they cost you more in the long term.

We routinely see clients at their wits end come into our care. They’ve tried everything and nothing works- they are even hesitant to try anything else. They can’t move enough because of pain, or- they’ve never been taught healthy habits around their lifestyle (including movement and nutritional practices). This is what plagues our healthcare system today, and the message I keep putting out there to clients and peers is that none of this is a difficult fix- it just requires a shift from expecting a quick, cheap fix, to some quality time spent investing in our own health and getting educated guidance.

If you have questions about your movement today- send us an email and we’d be happy to help. Consults are always free.

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Motor Learning, Self-Development, Wellness

The Golden Rule

I have this rule when I train clients- which many of them are bittersweet about.

"If it's easy then you're probably not doing it correctly"

This is in respect to their position and mechanics during different exercises.

This isn't meant as a "no pain no gain" type rule- but more of a "you're body likes to cheat so if it feels easy, you probably aren't in the right position".

Our form is our function. Yes, efficiency is something we all desire- including our brain- but efficiency out of laziness (on the nervous system's part) only leads to injury and illness down the road.

I talk a lot about form, motor control, and movement patterning with my clients because, frankly, them knowing how to move and having an internal guideline of the correct way to move means that they will have long-term health success.

What is health success?

That may mean something different to each individual. To me it means having the ability to resist major health issue and injury (baring uncontrollable trauma), and the ability to maintain regular, healthy movement.

To not wake up full of aches and pains, and go to bed feeling the same.

To not worry about falling, throwing your back out, or degenerative osteoarthritis.

To know that if you do catch a cold or flu, your system is primed to recover. And that if you do experience a physical mishap/injury- you know what to do to get back on track.

I strive to create independence in my clients- not dependence. Them knowing that "oh, this feels like it isn't working the right things" feeling means that they will either ask a question to find out, or self- analyze and adjust the exercise appropriately. It means that they are thinking and investing constantly in their health and wellbeing. That means I've done my job.

Our bodies will always move us. By nature, they're always moving in some capacity. Whether they move us correctly depends on our awareness, and to build that awareness is what my purpose as a movement professional is. Certainly, clients remain on as clients because they find value in training with a professional consistently- and I myself hire another trainer to do just that for me- but by teaching a client how to move and how to understand their movement through building their internal awareness- they will be healthier in every aspect of their lives.

As the famous Grey Cook says, "move WELL, and move often".

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Equestrian, Motor Learning, Posture, Wellness

Inhale | Exhale 

It’s all going to be okay… Assuming you’re breathing right! 
Just kidding.. It’ll be okay regardless. However, the way we breathe dramatically influences our total body function and health. Breathing improperly will not only cause stiffness in the upper back, shoulders, hips, and neck, it can also decrease energy levels. The most common manifestation I see of poor breathing mechanics is neck pain and headaches. Most of us like to breathe with the muscles in the upper part of our chest and neck (instead of our diaphragm). This is especially true for those of us who experience increased levels of stress- as emotions will change how we breathe as well. Since most of us now live in a society that breeds high stress and emotion a lot of the time, it’s not surprising the most of us have forgotten how to breathe. 
If we experience stiffening in our ribcage, we will by nature also experience a tightening in our neck and hips. Where the ribs go, the hips go.. And vice versa. So now we have stiff ribs, hips, and a neck that is poorly set up to absorb the force of our heavy heads bouncing around. 
Try this. Lay on your back with your feet resting on a stool or chair (knees and hips should be approx at 90deg). Place your hands on either side of your rib cage. Take a deep breath in, and out. Did you feel your lower rib cage expand to the sides (into your hands)? No? You’re probably breathing into your upper chest and neck, then. One more time, do the same thing but move one hand to the tissue just above your collarbone. Did you feel that tissue expand with your inhale? Then you’re definitely doing it wrong. Take your hands back to your side rib cage. Now apply light pressure on either side (press in with hands) and take an inhale, focusing on pushing your hands out. Repeat this at least 10 deep breaths, also making sure to exhale entirely each time. Welcome to the wonderful world of diaphragm breathing! 
Practicing that movement multiple times a day is the first step in getting your breathing back on track. You should notice a marked difference in how your neck and upper back feel, maybe even improved energy levels and mood! Make sure when you do take time to practice this you don’t have other distractions. It takes a lot of focus to get this right! 

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Equestrian, Motor Learning, Posture, Wellness

Do you have old person feet? 

Yes- I do actually ask my clients this question… and no I am not implying that all seniors have crazy feet. 

What do I mean by old person feet? 


I mean curled up, cramped, toes and likely sore feet, poor balance, and dysfunctional arches. Did you know a healthy foot has spaces between the toes??? 

If you looked at your toes and saw any of that… there’s something up! 

You know that stat where we’re told that seniors have higher incidences of falls due to a decrease in balance as we age? Well it’s true, but not because that’s “just getting old”… because generally as we age we lower our levels of activity for reasons anywhere from “I ache” to “I’m old I don’t feel like moving anymore” to “I’m scared of falling”. All these things are counterintuitive. If we maintain our movement, we maintain our balance, confidence, and health! Old person feet aka what you see above occur because the muscles in our feet get shut off, for one reason or another (blame the shoes..not the skeleton…), and over time just get used to that position. A entirely dysfunctional position. This also will cause stiffening in the ankle which limits the flexion we have in walking- that plus the cramped up toes means more chance of catching your toes/foot on a crack, stair, carpet, or patch of ice… increasing your chance of a fall. This stiffening also increases chance of stress fractures in the foot and many conditions all the way up the chain, as high as the neck! 

And you know what? A LOT of young people have old person feet… 

Why?

1. Our shoes

You know that fad that swept across the running and exercise world not too long ago claiming minimalist shoes and barefoot running were the thing to do? Well, they weren’t entirely wrong. Regular footwear, orthotics, and workout shoes with all that support are really not doing us any favours. Not only do they cramp our toes, they also provide a great environment for ZERO foot activity. And what happens when a muscle group isn’t used? Well, it gets shut off entirely. Why is that no good? See foot above, and feel the effects of plantars fasciitis, morton’s neuroma, fallen arches, bunions, metatarsalgia, etc etc. 

2. Our habits

So your knee hurts, your back hurts, your hip hurts, your neck hurts… common practice? Treat the area that hurts and correct the core, hips, and general posture. Not some common practice? Check the foot posture and build upwards from there. Yes- I said it- dysfunctional feet create dysfunction all the way up the chain! We also love taking every suggestion whole heartedly… you have flat feet because your mom and mom’s mom had flat feet? Well, you’re doomed! Into orthotics you must go.. because surely there isn’t ANY way to retrain the arches of the foot (which, by the way are made of entirely changeable tissues such as muscle.. which is under YOUR control……). Did that sound ridiculous? Thought so. Orthotics and shoes… not great for functional feet! Our posture is a learned habit, usually from our family as we’re learning how to move.. so yes, it makes sense that you pick up what your closest peers are putting down when it comes to foot posture and gait and mannerisms… but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to the same health fate. 

3. Our society

You’re likely reading this thinking.. well what does she want me to do.. go barefoot all the time? That’s preposterous! 

We’ve created a stigma around our feet. Is not hygienic not to wear shoes, it’s not healthy, it’s ugly.. our feet aren’t pretty, etc. Okay fine, so don’t go barefoot to the grocery sore (although, in New Zealand I’ve experienced many a kiwi who does and did!), or in public places.. but when you’re at home, how about not wearing your indoor shoes… or at the gym, wear your socks only and tread in a more natural state.. work those feet out too. Yes, your feet will likely complain a bit- just as your abs and legs do that first week in the gym after New Years.. give them some time to progress into their new working life, and I guarantee you’ll notice benefits. 

Now you’re thinking- okay but how do I actually fix my flat feet, or bunions, or cramped old person feet? 

Well, I’ll tell you! 

FIrst thing, follow steps above to getting out of your shoes any chance you get.. secondly, add in these exercises! 

1. Ankling: keep your toes and heels on the ground, and practice lifting that arch up, holding, and then letting it fall back down. Notice the difference? Notice your hips have to work a little too and your whole leg changes position? Gooooood. 


2. Ankle sweeps and toe crunches

Band isn’t necessary but an extra progression if you have one around! First sweep the foot away and up, working those outside ankle muscles.:. Then do some toe curls.. crunch the toes up using those arch muscles- don’t lift toes or heel off the ground! A good external cue for this is to lay a towel flat and use the toes to bunch it up. You should feel your arch working! Sets of 10 please! 

Other things you should be doing outside of all these tips is as much balance work as you can.. out of shoes of course! Focus on keeping when weigjt between the front and back of your foot, and that position you found in the ankling exercise. 

Have fun kids! 

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Equestrian, Motor Learning, Posture, Self-Development, Wellness

What’s Up at IM- Winter Update

Hey everyone!

As usual I’m falling behind on my posting. I just wanted to pop in and give a quick update on Integrative Movement and Katmah Training, as things are happening!

As many of you know, Integrative settled into it’s very own location in the South End of Winnipeg this fall. While we still travel for some clients, we cut down our mobile services to only a few days a week. This hasn’t stopped us, however, as we still travel to Portage and MacGregor, and St. Agathe for clientele. Kathlyn also works out of Carman at Empower Fitness a few days a week. Accessibility for all our clients is a must!

In January Integrative was happy to welcome Lisa to the team as another Athletic Therapist. She is at the studio 3-4 days a week and is taking on new patients! She offers both therapy and training services!

Katmah has been on the go as well, recently having done a workshop for riders on the topic of Mind Body in coordination with the Manitoba Horse Council, and Scott Erickson Performance Consulting. It was a great afternoon, focused on equestrian sport psychology- dealing with adversity, preparing for competition, and common issues faced in our sport’s culture around mental preparation. Katmah followed with a discussion on what the equestrian requires from their body and movement, and of course there was exercises involved! Kat will next be speaking at Pine Ridge on April 23 in a full day clinic. This clinic includes both a lecture and riding sessions and is still open to auditors and a few riding spots are waiting to be booked!

Most recently Kathlyn was honored with making the top 25 shortlist for Athena Leadership’s Leaders of Tomorrow scholarship for her work and goals in healthcare. It was an exciting and enlightening evening networking with some of Winnipeg’s leading women business owners!

Through the fall and winter, Integrative Movement has been working to provide rural communities with access to movement education, exercise instruction and therapy. Integrative Movement was titled as such because we believe in making movement a part of everyday life, and that movement is integral in an integrated approach to health care and prevention medicine. We’ve also been working on building bridges with local senior’s centres to offer exercise instruction for their well being.

So what’s coming next?

IM is proud to be returning to Murdoch McKay Clansmen as the medical supervision for the 2017 season.

IM will also be returning to the MHJA circuit as medical coverage, and will be offering Athletic Therapy Services on competition weekends.

Weekly classes are being offered on Tuesday evenings at 5:45pm in Winnipeg, as well as 10:30am on Thursday mornings. These classes are all about fitness and mobility- and are open to all ages and fitness levels. As pre-season kicks into gear, IM is offering a discount on training services and therapy services (unless you have insurance coverage 😉 for the next few months. Contact us to find out more about this if you’re an MHJA, or MHC member.

We are also hoping to reach out to physicians in the city and rural communities to talk about movement, athletic therapy, and kinesiology. So if you think you’re GP would be interested- please let us know!

That’s about all the news for now- stay tuned to our social media for exercise ideas, handy tips about your health, and other updates!

Facebook: Integrative Movement

Instagram: @integrative_movement

Booking site: http://integrativemovement.janeapp.com

 

 

 

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Menu, Posture, Wellness

Ouch! My Back!

‘Tis the season for joint pain- especially low back pain. With all the business of the holidays we inherently spend more time rushing to and fro, sitting and visiting, and taking less care of ourselves.

It’s the time of year where I start to get more complaints from my clients and patients about nagging back pain, and/or “throwing” their backs out.

It’s a common complaint no matter what time of the year, but in the cold, slippery months that accompany the beginning of winter- it becomes more and more frequent. Whether it’s from slipping on ice, lifting heavy boxes, spending too many hours driving or standing, sleeping in different places, or just stress and tension. The last thing we want during the holidays is to be laid up with pain.

So- what do you do when you experience that pain, or that incident that causes the back complaints?

If you’ve fallen or had an incident that results in new back pain- see a licensed musculoskeletal professional (athletic therapist, sport med doc/or ortho doc, physio, etc) to check you out and make sure you get on the right track to recovery. Ice for the first few days, and then heat… and gentle movement when you feel ready to do so (walking is the best rememdy for back pain, often, but your body will tell you when it’s ready to proceed) followed by a more prescribed plan from your healthcare and movement professional.

If you have a history of back pain that comes back like the grinch- then follow these few tips to get yourself movement and feeling better. Easily fit into your daily life and holiday schedule- they’ll save you from ongoing pain for longer then just the holiday season!

  • Wall Slides: I give the exercise A LOT. In fact, I think it’s probably the most featured exercise on this blog and in my chart notes. That just adds to the proof that is one of the most beneficial ones for us hossack-painpic1of3all to be doing! Getting your back flat against the wall (it helps to have the feet in front of you just a bit so you can tilt that pelvis back), bring your arms to the wall as well (or in front of you at 90deg), slowly slide them up and down KEEPING THE BACK ON THE WALL. Do this in sets of 10-15, as many times as you’d like through the day. Not only does this strengthen to the upper postural muscles, it stretches the low back and maintains an optimal spine posture.
  • McGill Curl: Another favourite. Bracing/pushing out with the core muscles, get in the IMG_4212position shown below and curl up and down- focusing on keeping the core active active active! Repeat on both sides in sets of 10-15. This exercise reminds the brain how to use the core, which is integral to spine health.
  • Spine Twists: Only pursue this if it feels right for your body! A lovely mobilization for the low back and stretch for the hips.
  • Hydration: Water is SO important for us. Especially this time of year. If you have any sort of chronic pain, anywhere, increasing your hydration will benefit you. The 8 glasses a day rule isn’t that far off, but I know for myself I feel my best when I go through 3ish L a day. Yes, it takes getting used to. But adding lemon, or infusing fruits/herbs in the water can help. Tea counts too!
  • Walking: This is possibly the BEST thing for low back pain. Brisk walking either outdoors or on a treadmill, with arms swinging naturally, and the core active. Try 10-20min a few times a day and feel the difference it makes!

As always, if you have any questions about your low back pain.. or any issue, don’t hesitate to contact me!

 

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Equestrian, Free Workouts, Posture

Twisting for Health

Here in Canada we’ve started the food and holiday marathon that is October (Thanksgiving) to January. In the next few months we’ll be bombarded with gatherings, food, drinks, and cold weather. A amazing combination for socializing- a brutal combination for our bodies.

Luckily, there are certain movements that can help with the usual bloating, digestion, and general feelings of fullness and lethargy that come along with the season.

Spinal twists are amazing moves for both our spine health, digestive health, and breathing mechanisms. They are definitely a favourite pattern of mine to teach.

There’s three in particular that I quite like and suggest you give a try this fall and winter!

First up: The supine twist. Laying on your back, bring your knee up to your chest and guide it across your body towards the floor. Look the opposite way to allow a twist through your entire torso. Stay here and breathe deeply for 20-30seconds/side.


Next, thread the needle!

On all fours, reach one had to the sky and then underneath your supporting arm. Either hold this position or rotate through the movement 10-15times, breathing deeply throughout.


Lastly: The lunge twist.

Either from a half lunge (back knee on the ground) or full lunge, place your opposite hand to your front leg on the ground, and reach towards the sky with the other hand, twisting through the torso. Careful here not to twist the hips, but only from the pelvis up. Hold and breathe for 10-30sec/side.


If you have a back injury or undiagnosed pain in your spine- please consult your health care professional before trying these. Always pay attention to how you feel progressing into the movements- if you have pain, consult a professional before proceeding!

 

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Free Workouts, Motor Learning, Posture

Roll on, Sunday

I don’t know about you- but the end of the week leaves me exhausted. Sunday’s are generally my Wednesday’s- so I have to find ways to keep myself energized and ready to confront Monday’s no matter what (they still feel like Mondays, even if their mid week for me!). 

I’ve been working through some of my own aches and pains lately- and part of my rehab includes my trusty foam roller to loosen the muscles around my shoulders and thoracic spine- to help my lower spine and hips work a little better. Such a common thing to see among my clients as well, a poorly functioning upper spine causing issues up and down the chain. 

Here’s a couple of the moves I used tonight to loosen up my shoulders. Get your roller and try them out! 


Make sure your spine is aligned with the roller, with your chin tucked and pelvis tilted. First up is straight arm flexions- you’ll feel this between the shoulders as the muscles contract against the roller for a nice active massage effect. Repeat this movement 10-20times. 

Next is Angels. If you’ve done wall slides before this is the same movement. An excellent opener for the chest and the front of the shoulders, it doubles as an active massage for the upper back. Repeat 10-20 times. 

Both these make an fabulous warm up as well pre-workout, ride, or as an office break. 

Let me know how it goes!