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Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, Wellness

5 Reasons Why Integrative Movement is Different

1. Accessibility

We pride ourselves in providing a simple, affordable solution to health and lifestyle services. We also offer services out of four satellite locations covering South Winnipeg, the Pembina Valley, Charleswood, and Selkirk region. All our locations are partnerships with other likeminded health facilities. From full functioning gyms to yoga studios – we do the groundwork to develop a health focused community feel wherever we go.

2. Investment

How many of us have bought into a health program, rehab, or gym membership only to under utilize it and later feel like we’ve just wasted the money? Our job is to support you in whatever your health goals require. Whether it’s developing healthy habits in the gym or at home, recovering from an injury, or pushing yourself to a new level of health and fitness, we work hard to provide highly skilled and knowledgable support. As a bonus, new members at our Selkirk and Charleswood locations automatically get 6 weeks of coaching alongside their memberships. No longer will you be stuck not knowing what to do with your gym membership! Your health is an investment, and we believe that navigating those investments is best with accessible, individualized support.

3. Individuality

It’s all about YOU- At IM we are different then your average rehabilitation facility or personal training sales pitch. We take the time to figure out what makes you tick. From consult to regular sessions, you can expect to spend 45min-1hr with us in either dedicated one on one therapy, consult, or training sessions or in a small group of likeminded individuals working at a common goal. Keeping things personal allows us to make sure you’re getting all the resources YOU need to reach your full health potential.

4. Diverse Experience

We are a team of Kinesiologists and Athletic Therapists with years of education and a growing experience base. Each of us enters our practice with our own personalities, history, and interests. For that reason, we pride ourselves in working as a team to meet our clients where they are at- and when appropriate work as a team with other professionals you deem valuable to your healthcare team.

5. We get it.

Life happens. Injuries are tough. Pain messes with our heads. Taking the steps towards lifestyle change seems impossible some days. We have been there, and we understand. Even on the days where you think it’s never going to change, the pain will never leave, or you’ll never get your old energy back.. we’ve got you. We won’t give up even when you don’t know where you stand. As the therapists and coaches we are, we hold out hope even when all hope seems lost. We’re all in the same boat, us humans, and we approach your care on your side every single day.

Want to learn more about how we can fit seamlessly into your journey towards optimal movement and health? Book your FREE consult here or drop by any of our locations to learn more. Looking forward to meeting you!

Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, nutrition, Weight Loss, Wellness

Baby Steps

Health shifts are HARD.

I often warn clients that it’s going to seem like the tiniest baby steps forward, and progress won’t always be blatantly obvious.. until it is.

I’ve had the perfect example of one of those “until it is” situations the last little bit. A long time training client decided to join me in using ProCoach, a new nutrition and habit coaching software that allows me to get at some of the whys of why progress requires daily change.

This client works hard in every workout, and admittedly needed to make some other health shifts to really get the progress in their health they were looking for.

We’d already used the power of exercise to help them lose some weight, and decrease the medications they were on due to a chronic health condition. They were now ready to add in some dedicated nutrition and lifestyle change.

It’s be 10weeks on this new program. This program requires them to think daily and reflect on their habits, choices, and diet. They started asking questions about what they were eating and how their choices every day could be affecting their progress and health. They got daily workouts and maintained their 2x/week sessions in the gym with their trainer.

They started the new program hesitant, but determined. Knowing they wanted to make change. They committed to doing the work- and that, my friends, is the hardest part of change.

Small baby steps, every day, every week. In their first 2 weeks they dropped 5lbs.

By 6 weeks they had dropped inches off their body composition and another 5lbs.

Now at 10weeks? They’ve dropped even more inches and are down a total of 16lbs. They’re feeling and looking different… better different.

This is a year long course/program for the client… I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 10 weeks!

All these growing improvements and positive changes for a workout and 5min a day of reflection, and small habitual diet and lifestyle change.

Seems like nothing- but it takes huge mental effort to make that commitment.

Daily effort. It’s not as easy as a miracle pill to manage symptoms. Even if that pill has negative side effects.

The rewards though of that daily effort to shift? Much, much greater- and- the only side effect is improved health and happiness!

headstand

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, Chronic Pain, Equestrian, Posture, Weight Loss, Wellness

On Expectations

“When will I be better?” 

“Why haven’t I made any progress?” 

“What can I do to speed this process up?” 

Part of my job as a clinician and a trainer/health coach is to help my client’s set reasonable expectations. However, I struggle sometimes with answering the “how long” and “why me” questions. Honestly, there isn’t always a clear answer. 

Yes, there is the textbook answers like.. a sprain, depending on severity will take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to heal, a fracture will take 6-12 weeks, a surgery incision will take 6-8weeks to heal, nerve damage can take years, and a muscle strain will take 4-6weeks. But, from real life experience, these are pretty darn generic time frames. 

Those time frames don’t cover things like non-specific back pain, tendinitis, chronic pain conditions, or how long it should take to improve other health factors like stress, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc etc. 

Those textbook phrases also don’t take into consideration life in the real world. A world that is chaotic, full of surprises, strapped into a never ending roller coaster that we aren’t usually in full control of. 

With all that considered, answering the how long, what if, when can I interrogation gets a little trickier from my end. I want my clients and patients to be set up for success, not frustration. Giving a general time frame can be helpful in setting goals, but not so helpful if the personality type takes it and sets it on a pedestal. 

When it comes to personal training, the golden standard in expectations is that in 4 weeks you personally should start feeling different in your clothes, in your mood and energy, and in other little things day to day. By 6 weeks you should visibly see yourself in a different light, maybe a different pant size, or catching yourself in the mirror and noticing small changes, and within 8 weeks you should notice other people noticing. This is what they taught us in school, anyway. That time frame generally does ring true, but at the same time that is a true fact when conditions are perfect. I always recommend being on a regular, guided program for at least 3 months to get a true sense of if a program is working or not. 

When it comes to rehabilitation and pain relief, honestly- anything those. I’ve had the most textbook cases throw surprises and end up taking much longer then expected to clear up or improve- and I”ve also had very complex cases surprise me with almost miraculous improvements in a short time frame. Pain in itself is a very complex thing, and factors in pieces from every other part of our life. 

So. What do I say when I have someone needing a time frame? I always phrase it with a “there is no guarantee of anything, but optimistically I am hoping for…. *insert pre-formed time frame based on the case, goals, and needs”. So really, I am saying I’m not sure but let’s see what happens. 

As a practitioner and a trainer, I want to see my clients having some sort of reaction to whatever I”m implementing into their program. Whether that’s small and steady improvements, the body throwing new curve balls as a reaction to a change in routine, one injury going away to reveal a bigger underlying problem, body changes, mood changes, energy changes, etc etc. Any change is often a sign of progress. That’s the other reason I don’t love the idea of setting a golden standard time frame for anything- one thing improved or modified often reveals something else under the surface. Many of the cases I take are cases that have levels of complexity hidden. 

My expectations change every time I see a patient week to week or session to session. Your progress from session to session is always occurring, if it wasn’t.. if there wasn’t some sort of change.. I would know I’m on the wrong track. Then it’s up to me to change my plan, or refer to you to a better resource or do more research for you. I want my client’s to expect that they are going to get somewhere, and they are going to reach their goals. I hesitate on asking them to form set timelines- as in my experience it only leads to negative stressors down the road. Setting reachable goals is of course paradigm in all health endeavours, and I strive to motivate each client in whatever way works for them- but reachable goals is also a very adaptable term. Our bodies generally tell us when we’re on the right track, or if we’re just beating a dead horse. Sometimes the horse slows down because it’s being pushed too hard, or concentrated on too much It’s my job to keep that horse alive, paced appropriately and encourage it forward. 

All this being said, you as a client/patient have a reasonable right to question any practitioner on exactly these things. How long do you expect to have me in care? How often will I need to come? How often will I need to come that often? I don’t feel like I”m making any progress, why? I know when my patients ask these types of questions that they are just looking for their own way to make sense of the process, and I respect that. If a practioner doesn’t take kindly to these questions, they might not be the right person to get you where you need to go- horse intact. 

Athletic Therapy, Conditioning, Equestrian, nutrition, Self-Development, Weight Loss, Wellness

I need to lose weight

The phrase I hear almost daily as a personal trainer.

“My doctor said I needed to lose 20lbs in 3 months to get healthier”.

An actual sentence I got from one of my clients a few days ago.

Yes, dropping lbs is sometimes a necessary part of getting healthy….. but more often then not improving your health (by health I mean blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, sleep, energy levels, and mood etc) doesn’t come with a large drop in the number on the scale when we are talking about an adult of average lifestyle and health. From my experience, weight loss actually plateaus just as major progress in all those other more important things begins.

We’ve all heard the facts before… muscle weighs more then fat, it’s how you feel and look- not the number. And that’s all true.

My client went on for a few minutes justifying why he thought that the weight loss was the most important factor in his health. Saying he’d dropped a few pounds already in the last few months and was looking forward to losing about 15lbs more, while simultaneously telling me the last time he went through a training program he lost only 5lbs but dropped 3 pant sizes.

He was making my case for me, and finally I stopped him and asked “how much do you think I weigh?”.

He paused for a second, looked me up and down, and said “well I’m not sure, but definitely less then me..”. For reference, I’m a 24y/o female, 5’8″ in an athletic build. He is about my height, 60something male. He weighs in around 140lbs.

So, finally I said.. “I weigh 180lbs”. (this is 100% true). He was sure I was lying. “But you don’t look as though you have that much on you.. you’re not big at all!” And I said, “precisely why the number on the scale is not something I worry about”.

That number on the scale includes our bone mass, muscle mass, water content, and fat levels. That number on the scale is EVERYTHING in us. One can’t look at that one number and thing it determines their health, by any means.

As we change our lifestyle and our fitness levels, muscle replaces fat, our metabolism increases, and our whole system becomes more efficient. Often “losing weight” or “toning” can be achieved in small levels just by adding in 20-30min more movement during the day and drinking more water to help flush the system.

Adding one one hour workout in a day will not do a tonne for the entire system long term, but it can be a great start to kick starting that system into a higher gear. Often starting with one guided session or challenging workout a week is enough to inspire daily changes the rest of the week. I find with most of my clients doing regular weigh ins is actually counter productive, as they get fixated on that number- and when it plateaus, as it always does, they forget to be encouraged by all the other changes they’ve made to their overall health and appearance.

I’ve weighed around 180lbs for majority of my adult life, so far. That being said I’ve worn a range of sizes through that time. 180lbs has looked very different depending on what the rest of my life looks at the time. Things like stress, diet, routine, illnesses, injuries, all played their part… but in the end, the one things I’ve really noticed is that that number didn’t change much even when EVERYTHING else was drastically different. For perspective again, I stayed at 180lbs even after trekking in the Himalayas, living off eggs, and dying for 15 days on my way up to Everest Base Camp 1. If my body can stay at it’s apparent set weight in high altitude training with minimal nutrition and buring 7000++calories a day… I think it’s made it’s point. Weight is the last thing you should worry about when you’re working towards any sort of health goal. Your body will tell you when you’re making progress, but you have to be aware and open enough to observe the little things and not hyper focused on a number in between your feet every day.

Looking for lifestyle change advice? Email me or find us on instagram (integrative_movement).

See you out there!

 

 

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!

 

Equestrian, nutrition, Wellness

The Pain Paradox

A client messaged me today. A training client turned therapy client who had begun training telling me a long history of his shoulder pain/injury. Initially I offered that I was also a therapist and we could do some specific work for the shoulder- but they dismissed that as they had already “tried more then 6 therapists and nothing had worked”. I left it at that and focused our training sessions to “shoulder friendly” and preventative upper body work alongside the total body workouts.

Weeks passed, and finally I got fed up with the complaining around the plateaued shoulder pain. I informed them we’d be doing therapy that day instead of a training session. Just to see.

And so, today I receive a message. This is a week after I treated him. Once. For shoulder tendonitis.

The message expressed shock at how his shoulder no longer hurt. Shock because they’d tried so many things already and none of them had worked. Shock that I knew what I was doing. “how do you do it?” they asked.

Pain is something we all experience at some point in our lives. Many people suffer from chronic pain (defined as pain lasting more then 3months consecutively), and in our society pain is still one of the most ignored signs our body gives us. We try everything to suppress it, even ingesting drugs that suppress our nervous system and brain into borderline comatose, negative states- for just a short period of relief. We try therapy after therapy, fix after fix, and when nothing works we ask our doctors for more pills. More short term relief. Or, we live it it. We accept the tole it takes on our lives, our personalities, and the people around us.

Then there’s the opposite- we condone those who do take pain killers and other heavy prescriptions as useless, and unmotivated to fix their own problems.. when what we’ve given them to ingest is often causing those exact symptoms of malaise.

The text message I received from this client is not an unusual message for me to receive. In my line of work, with my skillset, I am often seeing clients who have come to their last resort. Trying one last person to help them, having been passed through the healthcare system and finding nothing of use. This is not a statement I wish to be viewed as bragging. Many of those with my skillset and training have the same occurrence. Clients in disbelief because something, someone has finally given them some relief, something useful and educated them on how to solve the underlying problem.

Pain is manifested in any number of ways. Pain that lasts a long time sometimes stops feeling like pain. It becomes a part of who we are. It changes how we think, and it changes how we react. It manifests as negativity, systemic problems such as other chronic health conditions (think IBS, Chrohn’s, anxiety, depression, heart burn, high blood pressure, cancer, etc etc). Clients with chronic pain have told me that they don’t feel physical pain as much as they recognize other symptoms (grumpiness, indigestion, anxiety). As a society we’ve learned to mask pain, whether that pain is emotional or physical or both. As a society we’ve masked symptoms, and then judged people who display the side effects of those masks.

Our health care system has become reactive, not proactive. Optimistically, I see that beginning to change. With med schools now just BEGINNING to implement mandatory physical education within course work, seeing exercise as medicine. It’s starting. I’m in a business of prevention- which is an impossible sales pitch.

As a movement professional and clinical specialist- I fight daily against the human psyche. Human nature likes being lazy. Human nature loves the quick fix. The human brain also really doesn’t like having to work harder then it needs to. This wasn’t as big of an issue when our daily life was largely variable, manual work. Hunting and gathering, farming… but now.. we sit and drive and sit. Our bodies aren’t used. Most of us live in a stressed state, in the fight or flight response, chronically. Our breathing pattern has changed, we stop using proper mechanics and use a handful of the hundreds of muscles in our body for daily life. Then we wonder why we’re sick.

I hope you read this with an open mind. I hope that you don’t take this as an affront to your personal choices.  I hope that reading this makes you find another resource that may help you improve your lifestyle choices in health. Health cannot be separated into parts, or specialties. Our bodies work as one unit- all systems and parts feeding into the next. The medical system is just beginning to see how much that is true. And the more health care professionals can learn to work together on that and educate patients on their own bodies, the healthier we will all become.

Pain comes and goes, all life is ebbs and flows. The trick, the paradox, is to learn how to ride those waves and not try and stop them. Pain is always a message from the body. Discomfort is always there to tell us, and to teach us. Don’t stifle it, do something about it. Learn from it. Seek out answers. As Ken Kesey says “The answer is never the answer. What’s really interested is the mystery. If you seek the mystery inseasd of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. Nobody ever finds the answer, they think they have and they stop thinking..”. What hurts is rarely the problem. What hurts is a manifestation of something else. Any practicing professional who gives you something to relieve the manifestation is forgetting the subtle complexity of the body. At the same time, we need to come up with other resources and educational services for those who have been sucked into the masking pattern. Recognise the side effects, and their detriments. Realize that someone’s negativity may be manifesting from their underlying symptoms or side effects. Clinicians: don’t write off patients based on their initial impression on you. I can’t tell you the number of times a client has turned into a completely different person after you begin to see under the surface and make differences in their symptoms, take away masking agents. It’s never as it first seems.

What’re your experiences with pain? With masking? With therapy? Have you found good resources or are you still searching? Have you given up?

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