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, 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, 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. We also offer online services and training for those at a distance or on a budget! 

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, Biomechanics, Conditioning, Equestrian, Free Workouts, Motor Learning, Posture

Pre-Ride Sequence #1: Stable Shoulders, Mobile Hips

If you have me on instagram (katmah1) or facebook, you’ll have seen these. If you don’t have me on either.. you should probably get on that!

I have recently started riding again, after a on and off two year break, and of course am practicing what I preach. As most riders, when I’m at the barn I mostly just want to get on the horse and go- but I do appreciate the value of a proper routine to get my body ready to go before I do so. I also know that the horse’s I ride appreciate it as well.

So, with time in mind, I’ve begun putting together short and sweet functional warm-up sequences that I’ll share with you as I get around to filming them. The first two, which cover all the basics of two or three movements that are key for us in the tack, will be featured in this post.

There are a few things that are important for a warm-up. We riders don’t necessarily need to go for your typical 5-10 min cardio warm-up, as often the routine tasks of grooming, tacking up, and other barn things get the blood flowing. Something that is great for us, though, is warming up the movement patterns we’re going to use in the saddle. Especially if you’re in the process of revamping your equitation, practicing the habits before you add in external factors like a moving, thinking animal will really go a long way in preventing injury, and enhancing performance.

Today we’re going to talk stable shoulders and mobile hips.

We’ll start with the hips, as the exercise itself gets the whole body involved. I talk about hip hinging a lot. It’s a big issue for a large population. We as riders use it in our posting trot, two points, and in various other tasks. Around the barn you SHOULD be using it whenever you bend over, lift, etc. This first warm-up movement is a variation of a squat. We’ve all done, or at least heard of, a squat. It’s a movement we as humans should be very proficient in, although most of us aren’t. This variation of a squat is designed to really cue the hip hinging back and down (with proper knee mechanics) and then up and forward- while keeping a strong core and stable shoulders, of course.

You’re going to start off with your feet facing the wall, a few inches away, hip width apart, standing up in a nice posture, and putting your arms behind your head- making sure the elbows stay back (**watch here that you don’t arch in the mid-spine).  From this start position, you’re sitting down and back into a squat (as deep as 90deg, or as deep as you can maintain form). Knees should remain straight and track over the ankles, without collapsing in. Weight should transfer through the heels. Knees shouldn’t cross the toes- or touch the wall. Torso should stay upright enough that you don’t knock your head on the wall. Back remains neutral and core remains active.

Click here for video! 

Do 10-15 of these, then get read for the second part of the sequence! Standing in a similar position facing the wall, place your forarms on the wall, with the elbows at 90deg. You should be standing close enough to the wall to do this movement without arching your back.

From here, activate your core and the muscles between your shoulder blades, and then slowly slide arms up the wall (only as far as you can maintain a neutral spine), followed by slowly lowering them down. Do this 10-15 times, you should feel the muscles in your upper back working. The video shows first the incorrect way, and then the correct way to perform the movement!

Click here for video! 

Repeat that sequence 2-3 times before you get on. The squatting exercise translates easily to the same motion we SHOULD be doing when we post the trot or hold a two point. The Forward Wall Slide teaches us how to use the shoulder girdle properly, and stabilize, so our arms and core can work independently.

Record your horse’s reaction to you doing this, for added hilarity.

Enjoy!

Athletic Therapy, Conditioning

Picking your gym/trainer- tips for your health resolutions

 

I’ve worked in a few different settings within the health industry already- even having just begun my career. From small, local focused gyms to the big box franchises I’ve seen how the health and fitness industry is simultaneously on the verge of regulation and positive science, but also becoming ridden with fads and poorly educated “professionals”. With a largely unaware population, fitness and health professionals become the go to source for guidance when it comes to improving fitness, weight loss, and health benefits… When those professionals don’t have much education themselves, things can get dangerous. The fitness industry, like any industry, has many who see the potential to earn money. Everyone wants to be their best selves, however many look for the “easiest” route possible- so those who can market and sell fad diets and quick fixes find opportunity, and the client falls into a cycle of quick improvements followed by relapses.

The truth is.. long lasting results take long lasting lifestyle changes. Accomplishing lifestyle changes takes rebuilding habits, and that often takes the guidance of a trained, certified, and educated professional dedicated to their own furthering education, and their client’s needs. Each client is different, and will respond differently to different things. A proper assessment and plan is needed to identify what is going to best suit them, both in the nutrition and movement realms.

Where many big box gyms excel in accessibility (24/7 hours, huge spaces and many locations) and seemingly low cost memberships/training contracts- they fail the client in other ways. Often staff working in the gym are not required to hold professional certifications (those that require a degree in a relevant field), and training staff (often only holding a weekend course in a science that should have years dedicated to understanding) are encouraged to make sales instead of better their clients. There also is a trend to underpay those responsible for the client’s results and wellbeing.  For instance, in a facility I work in I was told in my interview that there would be no pay difference based on my amount of training, – I am one of few training staff hired that holds a degree in kinesiology/exercise science (most only hold a weekend course or less), plus a international strength and conditioning certification (CSCS through the NSCA). Many of the clients I took on upon beginning at this facility had never worked with a certified or degreed trainer, and expressed how big a difference they noticed almost immediately in program design, and my ability to give educated advice, and if I didn’t have an answer immediately- to research it for them.

While there are good trainers and consultants out there who don’t have formal education, it is a system to be wary of and make sure you investigate and interview appropriately.

Whether we intend it or not, we are a catalyst of change for our clients. If they have chosen to start working with a trainer- they should be expecting someone who has the knowledge and ability to help them make a change. Health is dynamic, and it takes time, experience, and lots of education to  understand fully.

All of this being said.. if you’re looking for some guidance in the new year, here’s a few top things you need to look out for on your search:

  • Background check your trainers and consultants. I’m not talking criminally, but hey- I guess that’s not a bad idea too.. I’m talking how much knowledge of the profession do they have. What are their certifications? Do their certifying organizations require a degree within the field? If they don’t, be wary.. they may only be able to offer a minimal amount of education for you.
  • Know what you’re buying into. Whether it’s a gym membership, a training package, or a consult- what exactly are you getting and what are you locked into. Many gyms require a sign up fee, as well as a contract that locks you in for the duration of the membership. If you’re new to the scene, do they offer an intro session to get you started? Some smaller gyms won’t require a contract, and have more flexible options. Trainers or gyms often offer a free session to make sure it’s for you. Talk to your potential trainer and see what their policies are on missing sessions, cancellation policies, and what bang you’re getting for your buck. I always give my clients a full breakdown of what their paying for, because nobody likes surprises.
  • Build a team. One person doesn’t always have all the answers. If you know you need more guidance in one area, seek the advice of a few professionals. Talk to your trainer- see if they recommend other professionals in other areas, staff at your gym, or look online for blogs or articles (and always do some research of your own). Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your health- and having a good network surrounding you helps in building that knowledge.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s what staff and consultants are there for. If they don’t have educated answers, or don’t have the time to help you.. you’re in the wrong place. Facilities that don’t have time to properly educate their clients, or hire the appropriate professionals to do so, aren’t worth your money (or time). Research those who work at your new facility (preferably before you buy in), and make sure they can help you when you need it.
  • Commit to yourself. Hiring a trainer, nutritionist, or buying into a gym membership or fitness classes is a big step.. but now it’s up to you to commit. The professionals around you are there to support you, but you also have to be willing to put in the work. All good trainers are good enablers, and should guide you in the right direction- but it’s your duty to keep your feet moving on that path. Involving a motivated friend can be helpful, but be wary if that friend starts to suggest wine nights or movie nights instead of gym dates (we’ve all been there).
  • Be aware of the “fads”. Unfortunately there is a lot of pseudo-science in the health industry. There is a lot of self-made gurus too. Some of it is on the cusp of legitamized research, and some of it comes from personal experience that’s “trending”. Fad diets don’t work long term. Know that. They may be a starting point to kick your butt into gear, but don’t expect the results to last. Lasting results take serious lifestyle modifications. In the gym,  it takes at least 4-6weeks to notice physical/visual changes in how you look. It also takes about 3-4 weeks to build a habit… so getting into the workout habit won’t be immediate.. that’s sometimes the biggest benefit of having a trainer. Now you’re accountable to show up to meet another person. It’s easier to commit when someone is expecting you, isn’t it?
  • Don’t get discouraged, good things take time. There isn’t a immediate weight loss trick that will last long term, and the number on the scale isn’t a be all end all. In the end, it’s how you feel. And how you feel will be determined by the habits you build with the appropriate education and guidance. Also- just cause I’m sick of the request- there is no such thing as “toning” one particular part of the body. AND, ladies, you will not get huge and bulky if you start lifting more then 2 pound weights. You just won’t. That’s not how the body works. So stop worrying about it.. your bone density will thank you.

I hope some of these tid-bits help you in the season of resolutions. If you’re interested in some guidance that’s affordable, mobile, and easy to access (oh, and very educated), check out my membership options. Let’s make a plan that works for you. What’re you waiting for?

image