Tagged: rehab

Rules of the Body

Jill Miller, who is the inventor of a program called Yoga Tune Up, recently revealed on her blog about a month ago that she needs a total hip replacement.  At the age of 45.  Now, she has been absolutely instrumental in helping many, many people discover a modality that can really help irritated tissue and brought it to the main stream.  The story, however is what I want to bring your attention to today.

What was telling about her first blog post, which you can find HERE (and I’ll link to the second part HERE) is that she felt nagging pain not only for most of her life but for the past seven years.  Until recently she didn’t bother to have it looked at because she was worried about surgery for personal reasons.  That’s fine.

This is one of the most respected and knowledgeable (from an anatomy standpoint) body teachers IN THE WORLD and even she ignored her symptoms.  We all do it, from your fellow office worker to high level athletes who want to keep competing.

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This is all too common with athletes.

“I’m okay, I just need to stretch.”  “I’ll start using my therapy ball.”  “I’ll take a couple of weeks off from running and everything will be fine.”  And then we go back to doing the same thing that caused the problem in the first place and are suddenly surprised when the issue comes back – and worse.

Just this week another client of mine’s husband after almost a year of pain finally decided to go to the doctor and get checked because his knee wouldn’t stop failing and buckling.  My prediction is either a torn ACL or a severely torn meniscus (or both).  The problem is that he’s been walking around on it for the better part of a year without any treatment or attention, and likely it’s gotten a lot worse.  This might mean that something that could have been helped with therapy before might need surgery now.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Your body isn’t stupid.

Pain, collapse, restricted range is a signal that something is wrong.

The sooner you figure it out and fix it the better off long term you will be.

If you have water coming into your basement, you figure out where it is coming from and plug the leak.  You don’t sit there and wait for it to subside, clean it up and then wait for it to happen again.  Mold sets in.  The leak might get bigger.  Other things can come into play that make a simple leak a catastrophe.  Your body is no different.

When your body is subjected to stress, it responds to it.  This can result in either stronger muscles, or deterioration and loss of integrity.  A large part of my job is finding out the perfect balance between just enough and too much load, stress or torque on joints.  You need to consider your body as a whole and what loads it is being subjected to daily, weekly and annually to really figure this out.

And in case you’re wondering, sitting is a load.  Driving is a load.  Weight training is a load.  Yoga is a load.  I remember when I sat through the Yoga Tune Up course (I did not certify because I have no desire to be a yoga instructor) and a room full of body practitioners looked at me like I had two heads when I suggested that yoga poses – especially extreme ones – are still heavy forces through joints.  They are, in case you’re wondering.  Jill Miller says that herself in her articles.  Years ago I wrote a post about why a downward dog is downright dangerous for most people.  It’s HERE.

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Is this good for your hip socket?

One big fundamental rule I teach my clients is that they should walk out of a workout feeling better – not worse.  This means they are far more likely to have had an appropriate level of stimulus and will have a better long-term response.  They won’t get worse, they will get better.  Isn’t that the whole idea?

The point of this is that nobody is invulnerable to the rules of the body, even people who have spent their whole life practicing something that is supposedly therapeutic.  Don’t assume that if you have a problem that things like stretching and pounding yourself with a yoga ball is the answer.  It might just make things worse over time.  Seek out someone who knows the rules of the body and can identify a proper strategy to bring your body back into balance and stop overloading tissue.

So the next time you work out, try taking a step back.  Are you pushing through pain?  Have you had a problem for a while and have been ignoring it?  Take a really close stock and tell yourself that you should probably get that taken care of before subjecting your body to even more stress.

Because nobody wants a hip replacement at the age of 45.  At least I don’t.

Feel free to message me or find me on social media if you have something you would like to identify or a question.  Injuries and providing solutions are what I deal with every day.

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Why Walking Doesn’t Cut It

When I’m driving my kids to school and heading to work, I see a ton of people out in the mornings for a walk.  Sometimes with an animal, and sometimes holding a set of Nordic poles.  Enjoying nature, and getting in a great workout, right?  Well, as with anything – it depends.

The top thing I hear from potential clients who are overweight and want to lose weight and get more active is “well, I walk.”  The invention of the FitBit and devices like it have made getting in 10,000 steps a day a bit of a craze.  And I’m all for people getting more active and healthier, but for the majority of people who really want results like weight loss, more strength and pain reduction, simply going for a walk isn’t going to get you there very quickly, and here’s why:

Walking Isn’t Intense Enough

To change the body, you need to provide a stimulus that is beyond what you normally do.  Now, most people will think walking for 20 minutes is great – and if it’s more than you normally do it might be.  However, most people simply go for a stroll at lunch and expect to lose weight.  Simple math will tell you that this walk burns 140 calories, which is replaced as soon as you eat an apple.  Even five days a week the calorie equivalent is basically one good solid hour long workout of high intensity.  This is again, better than nothing, but please don’t expect any miracle weight loss.

Nordic walking at 4 MPH (which is quite fast for most people) burns 220 calories in 30 minutes.  This is with the added pole movement.  It feels great – and can be excellent for your mental health – but for fitness it is a bit lacking.

Walking will make you better at – walking.  Unless you’re getting your heart rate up significantly you’re not getting any cardiovascular improvement.  Unless you’re performing some body weight movements along the way (which is very easy to do) you’re not getting any strength improvements.  So, what’s the benefit?  One might be getting away from a seated position for a little while and destressing in the outdoors, but this again won’t give you any benefits for strength or weight loss.

People Use It To Justify Overeating

The amount of times I’ve heard “well, I went for a walk” at Starbucks while a person digs into a caramel latte could fill ten books.  It’s the equivalent of the ladies who do Zumba or Aquafit at the gym and then promptly order a sugar loaded smoothie at the juice bar (often because they think it’s healthy – thanks, smoothie bar owners), instantly replacing every calorie they just burned.  Plus, because they went to the gym that day I’m sure an extra glass of wine is fine at dinner.  And then they wonder why they aren’t losing weight.  Unless you’re paying attention to your nutrition weight loss simply isn’t going to happen.  It’s a massive part of the equation.

This does not mean that you need to severely restrict your diet!  There are simple changes you can make to support your new healthy habits (read my article HERE if you want some tips).  You can still enjoy social time with friends and drink green tea or something that isn’t loaded with calories.

It’s Easy to Overdo It

I deal with overuse injuries on a daily basis.  In fact, just because I spent the past weekend in Toronto and walked everywhere even my joints are a bit stiff today.  If you suddenly take yourself from zero to a hundred without any progression then it’s easy to run into problems in your hips, knees and feet and ankles quite quickly.  Then you get discouraged and stop.  Many people join a group or start walking way too far way too soon because “it’s just walking”.  It’s still loaded movement and repetition.  The last thing we want is for you to get discouraged or injured before you even start, and walking is one of the chief culprits for this.  Don’t even get me started on running.

So What are your Solutions?  Again, there are some easy ways to ramp up something as simple as a walk and it doesn’t mean you have to run, enter an idiotic boot camp or kill yourself.  In fact, for beginning exercisers this is a recipe for disaster.

It’s fairly simple to increase the intensity of a simple walk into something that will provide some results:

Get Your Heart Rate High, Even For Short Intervals

Studies show that increasing your heart rate to over 83% of your maximum for even four minutes can have a remarkable effect on your heart and lungs.  This doesn’t mean you need to run – simply walk faster and with deliberate speed.  It won’t take long for your heart rate to increase to the point where you are getting out of breath and you feel your muscles burning.  Then stay there.  Use the timer on your phone or other device and hold onto that level for 3-5 minutes.  Even one minute has an effect, you just have to do more intervals.  This is called interval training and it’s been proven to be the most effective method for increasing heart and lung capacity.

Add Some Strength Work

People seem to think that strength training is this horrible thing you need to do in a gym.  Almost daily I provide simple isometric exercises for people they can do literally anywhere against a wall.  In your office, at home or even at the gym with zero equipment required you can still generate strength.  Do me a favour right now and find a wall.  Stand with your back to it, rotate your foot out and left the side of your foot into the wall.  Feel your butt fire?  Great – push a bit harder and hold it for 30 seconds.  Hang onto something if you need to for balance.  You just gave your glute a workout.  Most people while walking barely use their glutes at all because of the motion they are doing – so do this simple isometric (and a few others) in between those interval bouts – and give yourself some strength work at the same time.

All day long you’re going to pick things up, put them down, rotate your trunk, sit, sprint for the bus and many other things that need joint strength.  It’s easy to add this into your daily walk with isometrics or bodyweight movements.

This may seem like a simple breakdown – because it is!  Taking something like walking as a healthy habit and turning it into something much more effective over time isn’t difficult.  If you’re trying to introduce this into your life, feel free to reach out for more detailed suggestions.  I have an entire isometric at home system that I can share with you.

And, as always feel free to comment, tweet, add me to Facebook and reach out if you need anything!

An Update from the Institute

Wow, it has been about six months since I’ve posted a proper article on my site.  Due to lots of personal stuff and my business exploding in May time to sit down and write has been minimal at best.  I also have some exciting side projects that I have been working on, but I wanted to touch base with my readership and let you all know what is in the works.

First of all, for those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, ISOPHIT has become an integral part of my practice.  The results have been nothing short of amazing for providing new stable joints and allowing people who have limited range of motion to strengthen muscles without having to risk any issues.  I’m still offering FREE workouts on this apparatus if you want to experience it any time, just contact me.

I’m heading to Toronto in October to finally take the first part of the ISOPHIT certification program (I took the second part in April) and gain some more knowledge about the apparatus and how to apply it effectively.  It’s really a game changer.

The second part of the Joint Injury Management Series is almost completed!  Due to schedules I don’t know if I’ll be able to roll it out this year and may have to wait until next year to get it going, but that just means I can do it back to back with my initial course again on the knee.  This one focuses on the shoulder and will help fellow trainers and other therapists learn pathology and solutions for things like rotator cuff problems, labral tears, tennis elbow and more!

The third exciting thing is I’m finally putting together a short Ebook on total back care and recovery from back injury.  I’m excited to say that this offering will be FREE and will provide comprehensive information about your spinal health including recovery movements, strength movements and some things you can focus on to make sure back injury never comes back once it’s gone!

So essentially besides training my clients all the time I have a lot on the go.  If you have any interest in anything I’ve discussed please let me know and I’m happy to sign you up for updates and get you on my mailing list for the new Ebook and course offering.  Just click on the subscribe button at the top right!

And, as always you can follow me on Facebook and other social media outlets.

Just a quick update for today, but much, much more to come in the future from the Institute!

Your Amazing Body

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a cadaver dissection lab, the first one ever offered to trainers in Ottawa.  This was a unique opportunity to see the things that I affect every day stripped right down and actually see inside the joints and muscles and other structures.  Incredible for learning even more about how we work from the inside out.

You have over 640 muscles in your body, some estimates go as high as 667 depending on what is classified as a muscle.  Every time you move you affect dozens of these.  When you can actually move a joint that has been stripped away and see how these muscles pull and stretch and work together, one of the most amazing things to me was how resilient your body is on an ongoing basis.

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It’s like we are really made of steel.

One example was that there were two different feet from the tibia down.  One had one heel basically underneath the tibia and another had the heel slightly offset to the outside.  Imagine every foot strike (taking thousands a day) hitting just slightly off center.  What would that do to things further up the line?  Multiply that by say ten years and you’re talking about 7.3 million steps.  Knee cartilage takes the same wear and tear over time, as does the hip and back.  And that’s without ever lifting anything or moving quickly.

We take this for granted.  Our body is obviously really, really tough but more often than not especially in athletics we think that it will heal and all will be fine.  This type of movement and trauma changes it permanently.  I saw several examples inside joints where wear and tear that you wouldn’t even know was there existed.

I got to see nerves actually coming out of the spinal cord and how thick they are.  There are areas of the body where these nerves are constantly compressed over and over again, even without any type of inflammation.  They still hold up for long periods of time without fraying, breaking or even compressing enough to cause an issue.  This told me that when you have a problem with a nerve – it’s a serious problem.  On the flip side, I got to see the nerves that actually run through the center of the spine and how protected they are, but also how delicate and could be easily destroyed.

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Imagine seeing this uncovered.

There were certain muscles that until I saw how the fibers actually sat and saw the lines I thought functioned in slightly different ways.  When you moved them you could also see how the muscles might stretch and align themselves to allow a completely different type of mechanical ability.  It also illustrated how many muscles work together to achieve movement, whether it be something as simple as typing on this computer or as complex as lifting something quickly from the floor over your head.

I actually got to see fascia – connective tissue that provides tension for a lot of the body and also creates patterns of contraction that move throughout the body and connect different areas.  Many of you probably know Gil Hedley and “The Fuzz Speech”?  It’s there. Seriously.  I saw it, touched it and even broke it up.  Incredible to think that such a thing is really there, but there it was.  All over the place.  And it was very easily altered.

Now you may not really care about this stuff – but you should.  These muscles don’t just help you when you’re exercising.  They help you walk, get out of bed, brush your teeth, sit down, stand up and play with your kids.  They provide strength for lifting your grocery bags or performing household tasks like gardening and cleaning.   It is an incredible thing and very humbling that all of these things just work – on demand – for dozens of years without stopping or really breaking down until the buildup becomes so extreme.

The other big takeaway from a spiritual point of view was actually something I hadn’t considered when I first signed up.  All of these cadavers were once people.  They had lives and families and experiences that reflected in the way that their bodies presented.  A couple of them had joint replacements.  A couple of them obviously had trauma or arthritis or something happen to their bodies over a period of time.  You really never know when this body that you are walking around in could suddenly either break down or simply pass on.  We all are a sum of the experiences that we have, whether it be emotional, mental, or in this case, physical.  If there’s one takeaway I can give you, it’s this:

DON’T TAKE YOUR BODY FOR GRANTED

You have a finite amount of everything.  Steps, breaths, movements and experiences.  Treat your body well because it is truly the vessel that carries you every day from one of these experiences to the next.  It will fight off what you do to it, and obviously incredibly well, but eventually it will break down.  Stave that off as long as you possibly can and enjoy being able to move, breathe and experience amazing things for decades to come.

 If you enjoyed this please feel free to share and like it on social media.  My Facebook page is here and you can follow me on Twitter @strengthottawa.  You can also check out my web site at http://www.srottawa.com and feel free to contact me if you have any issues you need help with.  Treat your body well today!