Play Golf – Without Pain!

 

Golf is a contact sport – much more than you think. It’s not all beauty and graceful swings. We are not all Bobby Jones. And because we are not possessed of a graceful swing, we tend to hit the ball hard, even aggressively, to compensate for that lack of beauty.

The club hits the ball, sand, grass, even a tree root now and then as the body’s many joints make contact throughout the golf swing. The golf swing engages a range of independent body movements, so it’s usually only a matter of time before every golfer with unbalanced muscles will experience an acute injury or chronic back pain. All golfers have unbalanced muscles, even the pros.

It’s crunch time when a high-velocity rotating stroke occurs at the same time that the trunk bends, giving the spine and muscles around it a beating. So it’s little wonder that low back pain is the most common pain complaint among golfers. Most injuries to male golfers originate in the low back. Injuries to female golfers often start in the upper back and then move quickly down.

To hit the ball a great distance, the body must have the ability to rotate into a wide arc and to maintain it throughout the swing. An increase in hip rotation will reduce shoulder turn, lessening the amount of trunk-forward bending and side bending during the downswing. Without full hip rotation, back pain will be a constant companion.

Amateurs are typically injured by improper swing mechanics, poor technique. Professionals suffer overuse injuries as they obsessively practice repeated strokes.

Here are the facts about golf and injuries. It’s frightening and unnecessary:

  • 53% of male golfers suffer low back pain.
  • 45% of female golfers suffer low back pain
  • 33% of golfers are over 50, and not always in top condition.
  • 30% of professional golfers play injured.

Most golfers play hurt with shoulder and hip tendonitis, sore and tight muscles, and arthritis, diagnosed or not. “Professional golfers condition to play golf; amateur golfers play golf to get in condition”, a Jack Nicklaus quote, which leads to the fact that 60% of amateur golfers will have a serious injury during their too short careers.

There are usually two issues causing a golfer’s back pain: 
muscle imbalances and joint dysfunction. A distinct pattern of muscle imbalance develops because of a prolonged inactive posture. When a muscle remains in a shortened or contracted state for an extended period of time, it produces a reflex weakening of muscles on the opposite side of the body. A combination of weak, overactive, or tight muscles below the waist is called lower crossed syndrome. It’s guaranteed to produce a predictable low back movement pattern that will lead to injury.

Most “weekend warriors” sit in a flexed position at their jobs for hours on end. Day after day, the psoas and other postural muscles tighten up, shorten, and cause a reflex weakening of muscles. This neurologically inhibits the major butt muscles, critical stabilizers of the hip during the golf swing. Golfers often show up on the links with a big low back curve, a flabby and droopy abdomen, and a flat butt, a perfect example of lopsided muscles.

How to fix this? The other hip flexors, the front of thigh muscles known as the quads, must be strengthened along with the weak butt muscles. Relaxing the psoas muscles will lengthen the spine of the low back. A terrific exercise to start the repair is called Cat-Cow. Follow this with a Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch and finish the work with an Easy Bridge with Leg Extension. These exercises may not be comfortable at first, but a daily set will make a difference in your game. Send me a note if you would like a copy of this program. It won’t do everything that needs to be done to balance your body, but it’s a good start.

The greater control a golfer has over new and varied movement patterns, the better he or she can perform with less chance of injury. Once muscles and joints are balanced and can work at the best possible levels, the rate of force construction and club speed improves… and so does the golf swing!

BodyFix Method™ uses a musculoskeletal approach and simple alignment exercises to correct these and other lower body muscle imbalances. Visit our Shop Here and purchase the Low Back Pain Menu. Do this program for a few weeks; your back and your golf game will improve. Trust the process. It works.

As always, please send your comments and suggestions to me @ bill@bodyfixmethod.com.

Thanks for staying with us.
References to statistics listed: 
1. Gluck GS, Bendo JA, Spivak JM. The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention. (Spine Journal, 2008)
2. Lindsay D, Horton J. Comparison of spine motion in elite golfers with and without low back pain. (Journal of Sport Science, 2002) 
3. Vad VB, et al. Low back pain in professional golfers. (American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2004) 4. Janda, Vladimir, MD. Interdisciplinary approaches to joint dysfunction (1984)

 

Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Try These Easy Back and Shoulder Stretches

 

Getting a decent night’s rest is a top priority for most of us. No matter how complicated or demanding life gets, a good sleep has the potential to restore the body and relieve stress. However, if sleep is limited or interrupted, stress levels can soar and even brain function can be disrupted.

There are a number of reasons for poor sleep, from eating a too heavy dinner to late night Internet use. Another contributing factor to sleepless nights can be shoulder and back aches and pains. Here are a few soothing stretches to loosen the shoulders and back before you go to bed so you can rest easy.

 

Cat Twist/Thread the Needle: This familiar yoga stretch does a great job of opening the posterior deltoid (back of the shoulder) and rhomboids (upper back). This upper back twist can help relieve pain associated with rotator cuff tendonitis and shoulder bursitis. It can also calm tight scalene and upper trapezius muscles (upper shoulder and neck). If turning your head left or right is hard, this is a stretch for you.

 

Blandine’s Lat Stretch: This dynamic floor stretch will release the often-restricted large muscles of the back (latissimus dorsi). Tight lats can make finding a comfortable sleep position difficult, putting pressure on the ribs and spine and interrupted sleep. A few rounds of this stretch before bed can open the back muscles and assist in having more consecutive hours of sleep.

 

Child’s Pose: This stretch is another yoga favorite and has a soothing effect on upper and lower back muscles. There are two common variations, enabling both spinal extension and spinal flexion. Both forward bending (flexion) and backward bending (extension) of the spine can provide relief for tight shoulders. For extension, start with the knees wide apart and with arms stretching forward. Gradually walk your hands even more forward and perhaps a little wide, letting your ribs fall between your knees. For spinal flexion, keep your knees together and let your arms rest by your legs. Allow your spine to round and let your shoulder blades widen away from your spine. Take slow, deep breaths in both variations.

 

Taking time to prepare your body for a night’s rest can make all the difference in the quality of your sleep. Whether it’s a warm bath with lavender oil, a soothing cup of chamomile tea, or a few minutes of quiet meditation, ritualizing your bedtime routine can prepare you to restore. Add these gentle stretches before bed so that back and shoulder pain don’t keep you up at night. Sleep well!

How to Go from Young to Older with Great Balance!

We are always seeking balance because we are in a constant state of imbalance. It’s the human condition. Our autonomic nervous system is always working in the background to maintain our balance, just as it maintains our breathing.

Balance is critical for all movement. Without balance, the human body is incapable of sitting, standing, or accomplishing any type of athletic movement. Balance is the one sense that exerts the most control over the human experience. We pay little attention to our balance until it is compromised or until we begin to lose it.

As we get older, balance is less responsive and affects even our ability to stand perfectly still. In order for us to stand perfectly still and to minimize postural sway, the balance system has to be very highly attuned. The degrading of balance is difficult to recognize because the decline is so subtle. Any golfer over 30 can tell you that the sway wasn’t there a few years before…and the putting was better, too. We begin to lose our balance in our 30’s, and if we don’t take care to maintain it, our sense of balance will decline.

Balance works within your entire body’s alignment. If your eight load bearing joints are working and connecting optimally to each other, your balance will be good, regardless of your age. If your alignment is off, your autonomic nervous system has to work overtime to achieve balance. This mental and physical fatigue contributes to faulty movement patterns. Bottom line, the ball doesn’t go in the basket as often as it once did.

“More than 90 percent of the brain’s output is directed towards maintaining your body in its gravitational field. The less energy spent on one’s posture, the more energy is available for healing, digestion, and thinking.” (Brian Perry, 1992 Nobel Laureate)

Ideal alignment requires that your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders be vertically and horizontally aligned. If you have a significant postural imbalance, such as turned out feet, one hip that is forward or up, rotated ribs, or a forward head, any of these imbalances will cause your balance to be impaired.

Foot and Ankle Alignment:

Good balance starts with your feet and ankles. Good alignment asks that your toes are pointing directly ahead, not out to the side. If you stand with your toes pointing out, then you will walk on the outside of your feet, making your balance very precarious. Ideally, you should land on the center of your heel and push off your big toe pad. The feet are filled with sensors and nerve endings, and you want them to sense the ground so they can get as much information about your environment as possible.

Exercise for Feet and Ankles:

Supine Foot Circles and Point and Flexes

Hip and Pelvic Alignment:

If you have one hip that is rotated forward or one hip that is higher than the other, it will make walking with ease a challenge and impair your sense of balance. Walking around with a rotated or high hip often creates a limp in one’s gait or a lack of fluidity. When we lose our sense of grace and ease in walking, we are more prone to trips and falls. When your pelvis is level, easy walking becomes our normal state again.

Exercise to Restore Hip and Pelvic Alignment:

 

Rotated Ribs:

Your ribcage is designed to rotate as you walk. In a perfect world, the ribs are neutral, neither flared open in the front nor sunk and compressed, collapsing your chest. You also do not want to have your ribs fixed in a rotation in one direction or the other. This is a very common misalignment pattern that causes difficulties with balance.

For example, if your ribs are fixed in a right rotation, common in right-handed individuals, it is impossible to have adequate thoracic rotation when walking. Without easy rotation of your thoracic spine, you then compensate by overusing another part of your body to propel you forward, such as your shoulders or your head. This throws off your balance and alters your awareness of the world around you. This is an example of how a postural misalignment affects your balance, your gait, and your perception.

Exercise to Unwind Rotated Ribs:    

Forward Head:

Forward head posture is one of the most common postural misalignments. It significantly affects balance and proprioception. Balanced, your head weighs anywhere from 10-15 pounds. If your head is forward, not vertically balanced, your whole body has to compensate for that imbalance. The muscles of your upper back to your hamstrings work overtime to pull your head back on top of your neck where it belongs.

A group of muscles called the sub-occipitals that are located beneath your skull are densely imbedded with sensors. We get an extraordinary amount of information about where we are in space from these information centers. If your head is forward, that information flow is impeded. Maintaining optimal neck and head alignment is one of the most important things you can do for your sense of balance.

Exercise to Alleviate Forward Head:

 

These are four examples of common postural misalignments that will impair balance. However, any deviation from the design, optimal alignment, can throw off your balance. Your nervous system will have to work harder just to keep you upright.

Considering that we begin to lose our balance as early as our 30’s, we must start taking care of our alignment early or we will lose our balance much faster. If you have a postural imbalance that you want to address or if you are concerned about your balance, come in and see us for a consultation, or come to our next Balance Workshop. Details Below!

 

Anita Goodkind – Postural Alignment Therapist

Balance: Sitting, Standing, and Walking

With Anita Goodkind and Elaine O’Brien

Saturday March 11th @ 10am – 1pm

Balance and grace are important elements of living and comfort. Without balance, we can fall, at any age. Without grace, we can’t put all the pieces together to maintain our posture and alignment. A ballet dancer is graceful, but so are we, when we get it all together and balanced.

Balance is a word often associated with aging, with older people falling or being fearful of falling. Yet, thousands of young and middle-aged people trip and fall every year, most of them because their body position is off center, out of alignment. Their usually reliable balance mechanisms don’t work in less than perfect conditions, and down they go. It’s easily preventable, with focus and a few balance exercises.

We have created 5 simple exercises to keep you strong, balanced, and upright in all conditions. The exercises will fit in with your yoga, Pilates, or personal training routine. We’ll show you tips on how to stand, sit, and walk with grace and balance. We’ll work with you to help you master the steps. In addition, you’ll take home a handbook of easy to do exercises. It will all flow together and good balance will be part of you again.

$80

Space is Limited, Enroll Now

Simple Tips To Create A Healthy Workspace

Do you find yourself constantly cracking your neck? At the end of the day, despite not doing any heavy lifting, do you find yourself with a stiff neck and sore shoulders? If this sounds familiar, please take a minute to survey your workspace.

  1. Are your feet comfortably resting on the floor?
  2. Do you feel yourself leaning back or forward in your chair?
  3. Are you resting on your elbows as you type?
  4. Do you feel your shoulders are bunched toward your ears?
  5. Do you lean toward the screen?
  6. Are your shoulders pulled forward?
  7. Are your hamstrings tight?
  8. Do you have a leaky faucet for a nose?

If you answered yes to 2 or more of these questions, then your desk posture is feeding into your neck and shoulder pain.

But how do tight hamstrings or a runny nose have anything to do with your neck pain? The answer is that your 8-pound+ head is attached to a group of smaller muscles that run down your back and connect to the hamstrings. These muscles alert the lower back and hamstrings to fire up to keep you from falling forward. It makes no difference whether you are sitting or standing. Move the head forward, past neutral, and the hamstrings will light up. The forward head, forcing the sinuses to drain, causes the runny nose. Welcome to post-nasal drip and a future sinus infection.

Great. So your neck and shoulder still hurts and now you know why you have tight hamstrings and a runny nose. What can you do?

First, reassess your sitting arrangement and pull yourself out of chronic pain.

Standing Desk Hacks

  • Grab a bar stool for occasional breaks. Holding any position – even standing, is toxic. The body needs variety.

Sitting Hacks

  • Set your chair up so you can sit comfortably with your knees in line with your hips.
  • Avoid the “man spread” or crossing your legs at all cost.
  • Make sure your feet are comfortably flat on the floor. If you are on your toes or are wearing heels, your calves will tighten.

Combo Hacks

  • Sit close enough to the desk to have your elbows comfortably resting near the body and your shoulders at a neutral position.
  • Adjust your keyboard accordingly. If you don’t like yours, check out    an ergonomic or a laser-projected keyboard.
  • Voice to text is another option that is less stressful.

Now that you have set up a better work body, here are some ways to undo your current Gringotts (see Harry Potter) posture.

  • Set a timer on your phone or on your desktop to get up every 25 minutes.
  • Drink 6-8 sips of water every hour or so.
  • Short Office Exercise Routine
    1. 20+ Standing Arm Circles forward and back
    2. 20 Seated
      Shoulder Blade Squeezes
    3. Backward lunges – hold onto a chair or door knob for balance if needed

Why are you doing this? Our bodies go to the path of least resistance and our muscles reinforce that pattern. By adding some dynamic movement every 25 minutes, your tissues stay supple and that movement helps break old patterns while strengthening new healthy ones.



Arm Circles and Shoulder Blades Squeezes

These are the difference between popping your ribs forward for “good posture” and actually having good posture. Both of these exercises help open up the chest and strengthen the back and shoulder muscles that we typically ignore all day. The arm circles pull the head back to neutral and pump more oxygen to the brain. The shoulder blade squeezes iron out the Gringotts hunch. With regular use of these exercises, this new posture will become a good habit and it will eliminate the causes of tight neck and shoulder pain.

Lunges

It’s all about the base. Making a firm base and strengthening the glutes with lunges helps stretch out the hip flexors that get tight when sitting all day. Standing and sitting do nothing to strengthen your glutes. The big butt muscles help the back keep you upright and prevent your shoulders and neck from spilling forward all day. Make this a habit and you’ll be able to multitask your way out of extra squat time at the gym. Hello, beach season.

Now, you are armed with some tricks to break the bad habits causing your shoulder and neck pain. Looking for some one-on-one instruction on how to break the cycle permanently? Come check out our FREE workshop on Relieving Neck and Shoulder Pain Tuesday March 7th. If you’re really feeling nerdy or if you need CEC’s for your professional certifications, we also have two ACE Approved Workshops in April.

Lastly, watch our newest Youtube Video on How To Improve Office Sitting Posture!

Stay in good health!

 

 

 

What’s Your Pelvis Up To? How A Pelvic Imbalance Relates to Lower Back Pain.

“Lower Back Pain”, while a fairly broad term, often has a specific quality to it. It could be a nagging ache along the back waistline, a twisted feeling in the lowest vertebrae, perhaps a jammed sensation on one side. Whatever your symptoms, chances are good that an unstable pelvis is playing a role in that pain.

Even if you don’t feel pain in your hips, the muscles in your lower back will respond to a pelvis that is habitually imbalanced. If your pelvis is tilted forward (anterior pelvic tilt), tilted back (posterior pelvic tilt), rotated (one hip point is slightly ahead of the other), or if you have a hip hike (one side of your pelvis looks higher than the other), then you’re likely to feel the crunch in your lower back.

Here’s how you can tell if your pelvis is imbalanced along with a few introductory DIY tools to keep your pelvis stable and level.

 

Anterior Pelvic Tilt: This is a very common condition and is often a major culprit with ongoing lower back pain. The general appearance of an anterior pelvic tilt is when the anterior superior iliac spine or ASIS (also called hip points) look as though they are moving forward, causing the back of the pelvis to be positioned higher than the front. This will shorten and tighten the lower back muscles, which typically results in a chronic lower backache. Weak buttock muscles and a comparatively too strong quadratus lumborum (QL) often causes an anterior pelvic tilt. The too strong and too tight QL will lift the back of the pelvis up and the buttock muscles don’t have the strength to act as an anchor. One way to eliminate an anterior pelvic tilt is with butt muscle strengthening. An easy exercise to build more capable butt muscles is Standing Glute Squeezes.

 

Posterior Pelvic Tilt: Here is another common cause for lower back pain and is typical among people who spend long hours sitting or driving. When the pelvic and back muscles are weak, there’s often a habit of sitting behind the sitting bones instead of on top of the sitting bones. The result is a diminished lumbar curve and a feeling of tucking the tail. The front of the pelvis is positioned higher than the back, and the lowest vertebrae is often where the pain is most profound. Weak butt muscles are again a common cause, so Standing Glute Squeezes are a great exercise for this condition. In addition, try Bent Knee Rolls Settle. This exercise helps to reposition the pelvis back to neutral as well as release neck tension.

 

Hip Rotation: While not uncommon, hip rotation can be hard to detect and can easily go unnoticed. It’s a familiar response to being very dominant on one side (in my experience, right handed people tend to have right hip rotation) and the effect is usually pain on the opposite side of the rotation. To self diagnose hip rotation, try standing in bare feet with your heels against a wall. Place as much of your body on the wall as you can and take a survey. Do both sides of your butt feel like they are touching the wall equally? If one side is touching the wall more than the other, then your pelvis might be rotated. That habitually steering of one side forward and the other side back very often creates a squeeze on one side of the lower back.

To counter hip rotation, try Hands on Head Side Bend. This very deep and effective stretch frees up the tight lateral muscles that contribute to hip rotation. Make sure you stretch both sides, take a brief stroll around the room, and then do the stretch again. After the second round, plaster yourself back on the wall and check the results. You will probably see that your pelvis is more balanced than before and that your back pain has diminished.

 

Hip Hike:   To determine if you have a hip hike, take a look at yourself in the mirror, preferably in minimal clothing. Place your palms right on the rim of your pelvis, just above the front hip points (ASIS). Does one hand look higher than the other? If so, you probably have a hip hike. Any number of postural and alignment imbalances can contribute to a hip hike, but an overly strong quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle on one side and tight upper back muscles (latissimus dorsi) on the same side would name two major players. A hip hike is often associated with the feeling of being jammed on one side of the lower back.

 

If this describes your symptoms and you suspect you have a hip hike, try Gravity Drop. The stretch in this exercise starts in the heels and calves, and then travels up toward the hamstrings. After a few minutes, you’ll feel a slight pull in your lower back. That pull is telling you that gravity is now dragging the hiked side down. If you practice this exercise daily, after a week, the hip hike should be eliminated and the jammed feeling will be relieved.

 

With few exceptions, most of us start our lives with a neutral and healthy pelvis. Habits and faulty patterns are what draw the pelvis out of alignment and compromise the comfort of the lower back. Luckily, with a few tools and a little awareness, we can all have an aligned pelvis and a happy lower back. To learn more, visit BodyFix Method™ and then schedule an evaluation. We would love to help.

Adrenal Fatigue: What It Is & How To Avoid Its Effects

The adrenal glands are key components of your endocrine system. They produce hormones critical for your health, including adrenaline, cortisol, and hormones that also regulate the production of testosterone and estrogen. The adrenal glands are small bits of tissue located directly above your kidneys.

A primary trigger for your adrenal glands is stress, which causes them to produce extra amounts of hormones such as adrenaline. This often triggers the “fight or flight” mechanism built into your body for emergencies, as a shot of additional hormones is likely to help you through an immediate crisis.

However, if the stress continues over a long period of time, your adrenal glands become damaged as a result of being in continual “hyper-drive”. Examples of this kind of stress could be a difficult job situation, a separation, divorce, bankruptcy, the illness, or death of a loved one, or some other emotional turmoil.

In our fast paced, stress-filled world, 80% of us will undergo adrenal fatigue multiple times in our lives. I have dealt with several bouts of adrenal fatigue myself and am currently in the process of restoring my burned out adrenals.

When your adrenal glands become overextended, they have the equivalent of a nervous breakdown and start behaving erratically. Instead of operating in a smooth and efficient way, creating precisely the right amount of adrenaline for a given situation, exhausted adrenals may produce too little or too much hormone, creating a mood swing effect.

Depression can result from out of control adrenals wildly overacting to a situation, flooding you with way too much adrenaline. The excess adrenaline may in turn burn away your brain’s reserves of dopamine, a feel good hormone, and leave you feeling depressed. It’s this variable behavior of producing hormonal extremes on either the low or the high side at any moment that characterizes genuine adrenal fatigue.

 How Do I Know If I Have Adrenal Fatigue?

Here are some clear signs of adrenal fatigue:

  1. You “crash” in the early part of your day.
  2. You feel tired all day at work, but more energetic when you get home in the evening.
  3. You’re exceptionally exhausted at night but have trouble falling asleep.
  4. You feel unrested even after a full night’s sleep.
  5. You experience continual sweating under your armpits after performing even light tasks.
  6. You are continually thirsty and can’t seem to quench your thirst or you have dry mouth, or you are frequently craving salt.
  7. You experience blurry vision or have difficulty focusing on simple tasks
  8. You find yourself continually craving stimulants.

How to Heal Your Adrenals with the Mind/Body Connection:

  • Avoid Strong, Negative Emotion: This does not mean you need to avoid all powerful emotions, but it does mean you should monitor your emotions and notice which ones feel harmful to your body. As a rule of thumb, if something makes you feel bad emotionally, it’s probably damaging your body and making you more vulnerable to illness. If it persists, it is exhausting your adrenals. So, do your best to let negative feelings such as fear, anxiety, hatred, and guilt arise and pass through you instead of suppressing them or engaging them.
  • Graze Every One and Half to Two Hours: To support your adrenals keep your blood sugar stable by eating small, frequent meals. If you go too long without eating, you put your adrenal glands under stress and don’t give them a chance to recuperate.
  • Eat Balanced Mini Meals: Mini-meals should contain a balance of potassium, sodium, and sugar (from fruit) to support your energy levels. Some foods for healing your adrenals include:
  1. A date (potassium), two celery sticks (sodium), and an apple
  2. Half an avocado (potassium), spinach (sodium), and an orange (sugar)
  3. A sweet potato (potassium), parsley (sodium), and lemon squeezed on kale (sugar)
  4. Sprouts, asparagus, wild blueberries, bananas, garlic, broccoli, kale, raspberries, blackberries, romaine lettuce, and red skinned apples are great additions to your diet and will help you recover from adrenal fatigue (Life Changing Foods by Anthony William)

Movement Sequence to Heal Your Adrenals

Your posture also affects the health and function of your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands rest on top of your kidneys, which are located below your back ribs. As a result, the alignment of your lower back impacts the space around your kidneys and adrenals. If there is tension in your back from extended sitting or from postural imbalance, it can add stress to your adrenals and make it harder for them to do their job. Muscles that impact the function of adrenals are your big hip flexors (psoas) and major spine and pelvic stabilizers (quadratus lumborum “QL”).

Try this restorative sequence to keep your psoas and QL long and supple and to recharge your adrenal glands:

Lumbar Erector Stretch

 

Crocodile

 

Sitting Floor Spinal Twist

Adrenal Fatigue is very common but ignored by too many in this highly demanding, modern world. If you recognize that your adrenals are depleted, take action to restore your balance so that you can feel energized and fully functional again.

There is no need to suffer; taking simple steps can have an enormous impact on restoring your adrenal balance. If you have questions about symptoms, diet, or movement, please email me at anita@bodyfixmethod.com.

 

Comment below for our Free Mini Adrenal Fatigue Program or visit our Shop for more At-Home Pain Relief Programs!

 

Body Hurts? No Quick Fix Needed. Just Move.

Your body is forever. There’s no new model coming out next year. There’s no upgrade available, no improved operating system. So you had better keep this one in good shape. And you can do that. This wonderful body of yours needs only to move in order for you to keep it healthy and running without pain. That should be easy to do. Except it’s not.

Why? Life gets in the way. We don’t take the time. We are always on the go, so there’s no downtime, no room for us to take inventory of what’s working well and what needs attention. Since our body constantly adjusts its performance to the task at hand as well as to our position and physical condition, we don’t notice that anything is wrong until we get this seemingly random shot of pain. It hurts and it wakes us up in a hurry.

However, the pain isn’t random. It’s been building up for a long time. We were not designed to be in one or two positions for 10-13 hours a day. I know; you don’t sit. You have a standing desk. You are always moving. Except when you’re not, which is most of the time. Life does get in the way of moving.

Even if you are sitting a mere 8 hours a day, that’s still more time than your body needs to be in one position. Using a standing desk 8 hours a day nets out the same as sitting 8 hours a day. Your body craves variety, not routines. Texting, typing, TV, celebrity research, movies or theatre, IPhone book reading, dinner with family and friends, cars, planes, and trains (apologies to John Candy), all add up. And then, there’s the gym and your weekend sports ready to do serious damage to your out-of-shape muscles. Oh, I almost forgot to include the 7-8 hours of horizontal, non-moving, sleeping you do each night. All this inactivity adds up to 17 – 21 hours of non-movement. Inactivity is not a good option. You can do better. You can begin to pay attention.

The body responds to what it does most. What we do most is sit. We can have a lengthy discussion about how much we sit, but the bottom line is that we sit, a lot. Let’s just accept that so we can move on to ways that we can change the amount of time, the ways we sit, and find alternatives to sitting. It’s hard, but we can do it. We just have to pay attention.

If we sit or stand with our heads forward and our shoulders rounded, our body adapts to that posture. After a month, a year, or ten years, it becomes our posture, so that when we stand up, we think we are standing with our shoulders back and our head up, but we’re not. The body has adapted to a new norm. It tricks us; what we think is natural and good form has now become normal and harmful. It’s become habit; the body responds to how you move…or don’t.

That forward head brings on headaches, even migraines. A forward head brings on postnasal drip and sinusitis because the sinuses can’t drain. TMJ isn’t far away and neck pain is definitely is next in line. The rounded shoulders limit arm movement, and bring on rotator cuff tears, upper back muscle pulls, and elbow pain. Those forward shoulders make the hips work overtime, creating movement where it doesn’t belong. The big hip flexors lock up and back pain follows.

Movement, positive movement, changes all this. Moving is a great healer. We will never move as much as our ancestors did. We won’t chase down dinner, we won’t work in the fields from dawn to dusk, and we won’t eat and drink the way they did. However, we can pay attention to our lack of activity, and we can move more than we are doing right now. That’s easy to do. All it takes is your attention. Your body is forever. Treat it well and move.

We have all bought into this idea that we have to carve out time to workout, skip lunch to go to the gym, to spin three times a week, and most of us don’t really want to move that way. I sure don’t. Me, I run. I have run since I was a kid, and I ran today, in 24°F weather. I loved it! It’s an hour for me, time to clear my head, to see and hear the city streets, to enjoy moving the way the ancients did. For me, it’s a daily movement practice.

Exercise is good, exercise is healthy, and when we exercise, it’s a fine alternative to doing nothing. Moving throughout the day is healthier, better for the blood flow and food digestion, better for postural improvement, and better for muscle and bone growth. Putting all your movement into one hour at the gym or studio is not the best way to stay healthy or to move. It’s better than nothing, but it should be a complement to our moving all day. It’s tough to compress a day’s worth of movement into one hour. We were designed to move all day.

There are many ways to move throughout the day. Get up from the couch, the chair, for at least five minutes an hour. That’s easy to do. Use a timer, put it in Outlook, or ask Siri. Stand up and shuffle your feet around, now walk on your toes, then your heels. Shake your arms and think about doing a set of Standing Arm Circles. It will take less than five minutes.

During the day, away from the office, walk. Walk to the subway, to the parking lot, to lunch, and back home if you can. Avoid the elevators and escalators and hit the stairs. Leave an extra five minutes to get to an appointment and kick it into a brisk walk, 100-125 steps per minute. Brisk is movement, big movement. Brisk does aerobics, sets good posture, engages all the big and small muscle groups, and gets you there ahead of time!

Now, you are back at the desk, the chair, or the couch. Set your alarm, read your book, check your emails, stream your program, watch the half-time show, but at the commercial break or when the alarm sounds, get up.

 

 

Reach for the sky with both arms, breathe, bend at the hips, kick your butt back, and reach for the floor. This is a simple Standing Hamstring Stretch, one that will open the big, back leg muscles and reduce the pull on your back.

My favorite daily movement is the Squat, another move you can do throughout the day. Perhaps it’s not for the sidewalk or in front of your colleague’s desk, but there are many spots and times to do a simple squat during the day. It opens the tight inner thigh muscles, loosens the hips, and relaxes the low back muscles, plus it’s great for the knees and ankles. If your knees are stiff, this is a great move to oil them up again.

There is no quick fix to staying healthy, no pill, no one exercise, but moving throughout the day will keep your body fresh, healthy, and able to do everything you want. Remember your body is forever. Treat it like the jewel it is by paying attention and by turning that attention into moving throughout the day.

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Ahimsa – Do No Harm…To Yourself

Start taking care of yourself. Learn new habits.

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word meaning do no harm. Ahimsa is a way of living one’s life. It is a concept that we apply to our relationships with others but not to our relationship with ourselves. We try to be kind to others, to treat everyone well, and to understand them. But how often are we as considerate to ourselves? We need to expand our thinking about our own well being.

Habits and movement patterns are hard to change, and we are hard-wired to keep it that way. Habits and patterns get us through the day. When we get in the car, put on the seatbelt, turn on the motor, check the rearview mirror, and put the car in drive or reverse, we don’t think about our movements. They just happen. Each of these actions is a pattern, a habit, meant to conserve energy and relieve the brain and the nervous system of having to “re-invent the wheel” throughout our daily activities. It’s a good thing – most of the time.

The nervous systems that we rely on often betray us. Over time, however, good habits can become bad ones. Time and energy-saving habits and movements can become faulty and develop movement patterns that are injurious. And all this happens with very little conscious input.

The flow and grace of muscular activity is run by the gamma neuron system. The gamma system sets resting muscle tone and tension control, and it is associated with the proprioceptive and kinesthetic systems of the body. It interacts with the alpha system, which handles our conscious and voluntary actions. Surprisingly and unfortunately, many movements that we think are voluntary, controlled, and intentional are not. They are patterns that we don’t even think about, and sometimes these movements are neither healthy nor good.

Negative changes to natural and healthy movement patterns can be initiated by injury, illness, learned behaviors, sitting, work, and other disruptions caused by daily living. If ahimsa is non-violent and living with care, these bad habits and faulty movement patterns are causing violence to the body and are contrary to ahimsa living. Life, daily living and work, get in the way.

Let’s say that you sprain your right ankle. Most of us have done this in our lives. After a month, it feels as if it has healed and you go back to what you think is your normal walking and exercise routines. Not so fast. The tissues may have healed, but the muscles have learned how to protect the joint, to guard against your “natural or normal” movements that would have hurt the ankle and delayed its healing.

Your muscles have actually learned new, faulty patterns. The old, good patterns would have slowed the ankle’s healing. As a result, you were careful, didn’t put weight on that right side, and developed new movement patterns to guard against further injury to the ankle. Here’s the bad news. You have created an as yet, unfelt dysfunction that now resides in the right butt muscle, the gluteus maximus, to be exact. Technically, as a direct result of the right ankle sprain, there is a delay in the activation of the big butt muscle on the right side, brought on by your limping around, and the re-patterning of your walk for a month or so.

The tissue is sound and healthy, but now you need to address this movement dysfunction, because that is what it is. Here is where you should use ahimsa, taking care of yourself, and not just letting it go, because ahimsa means not harming yourself.

Correct the faulty movement quickly, before it becomes the new norm. If it does become your new normal, it is only a matter of time before a new pain starts, and probably, one more serious than the ankle sprain that began it. Without a truly functional assessment of your movement patterns (ahimsa in this case), its cause won’t be found for years, if at all, and its result will cause more and more pain.

Ahimsa is an approach to living that that we can all understand. We need to find it for ourselves. An injury, repetitive movements at the computer, sitting for hours on end, or a slip or a fall will create poor movement patterns that will change your natural state. Take care of yourself and put natural movement and grace back in your life.

We at BodyFix Method™ have a stake in your movement patterns, in your being well, living in alignment, and moving with grace and ease. We are the people who can provide that functional assessment after an injury, even after you think it is healed and everything is good to go. Keep in mind that it’s not. The injury may be gone, but you are now moving in a different, and not natural, way. Let us help you get back to moving with grace and without effort and pain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Winter Recipe for Your Hunger and Your Knees

One of my favorite things about winter is how wonderful hot foods taste. I love the smells around dinnertime with the aroma of slow cooked food floating in the air. This is also a time when the drop in temperatures can make our joints ache and our muscles stiff. Did you know that warm stew or soup could actually help you enjoy the winter more than just a warm feeling in your belly?

I have been reading this amazing book called Catching Fire, (no, not The Hunger Games), by Richard Wrangham, which reviews the importance of cooking in the evolution of the human species. Aside from being a fantastic anthropological read, it has also brought to light why slow cooked food can be so comforting.

Our stomachs are not as efficient at processing food as other animals and our teeth are not as good at shredding and crushing. Hence, slow cooking allows us to absorb up to 70% more nutrients from our food. This occurs especially in starchy foods and protein.

Now, think back to that comforting mug of soup or bowl of stew. That slow cooked meat is now more digestible with higher amounts of minerals, amino acids, and all kinds of wonderful things that help lubricate and repair joint tissues. Ankles, knees, and hips are big recipients of this largesse.

It’s important to add spices, leafy greens, and squash or sweet potatoes to this tasty concoction. The slow cooked meat is wonderful for tissue repair, although it does increase blood acidity causing inflammation. However, we can counter this with inflammation fighting foods such as squash and leafy greens like kale, and spinach.

If you are using lean meat, don’t be shy about drizzling olive or coconut oil on for a more savory feel. The oils will keep you feeling full longer and will absorb vitamins in the leafy greens. Various herbs and spices contribute to lowering inflammation. As a side note, refined sugar and caffeine are the worst for increasing inflammation.

This combination is amazing since it has a great ratio of vitamin rich carbs, softened protein, and clean fat. Once you are well fed and hydrated, try our exercise program of the week for further joint happiness and strength against the cold.

Kat’s Winter Farmer’s Market Lamb Stew (Serves 4)

  • Lamb Meat – 1 lb from Farmer’s Market, cubed
  • 2 large Parsnips – coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium acorn or other seasonal squash
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 3 baby red onions
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil
  • Water – enough to cover meat in large pot

I made this while doing a 2-week cleanse, so this should work nicely for most diets. If you are a vegetarian, substitute lentils for the lamb.

  • Set oven to 350F and bake squash fully wrapped in tin foil for 90 minutes. Season lamb cubes with salt and pepper and sauté in a large pot or pan.
  • Remove lamb after cubes are browned on both sides but are still moist. Add chopped onions, garlic, and parsnips. Sautee mixture until parsnips begin to soften.
  • Put lamb back to the pot and add enough water to cover the ingredients. Lightly cover and simmer for 1 hour or more. Feel free to experiment and adapt the recipe to a Crockpot.
  • After an hour, much of the water will have evaporated and you will be left with a savory lamb stew and broth.
  • Add chopped kale and stir until wilted. By now your squash should be cooked. Remove from oven. Cut in half and remove seeds. Scoop out squash and dash with salt and cinnamon.
  • Pair with a hearty serving of stew and enjoy.

After your joints and tissues are well taken care of, try this Mini Winter Joint Program to strengthen your ankles, knee, and hips for any winter sport you enjoy.

Supine Foot Circles & Toe Flexes

 

Hindi or Yoga Squat

Spread Foot Forward Bend & Rotation

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Winter Sports Warm Ups for the Great Outdoors or Indoors

Not everyone likes winter as much as I do. It’s a given that most people do their best to endure November through March but would prefer to skip the cold months altogether. Whether it’s shivering temperatures or minimal daylight, it’s common to have a hard time in winter.

As someone who enjoys snowfall and the inherent coziness of the colder months, I look for ways to emphasize to others what makes this season pleasurable. Find a hobby or fun project that feels winter specific. Knitting comes to mind. So does perfecting a homemade hot chocolate recipe. Go to the sauna. Look for ways to enjoy the winter as opposed to just waiting for it to pass. If you’re feeling really adventurous, get outside (or stay indoors) for some winter sports.

Full disclosure: I’m a terrible skier. Any activity that includes several pounds of gear usually isn’t for me, and whatever physical grace I might have disappears the moment I put on a pair of skis. Nor am I much of an ice skater, as I find the crowded ice rinks in Central Park to be overwhelming. I love sledding and hiking in the snow, but my all time favorite winter event is basketball. I rarely play these days, but youth basketball was a big part of my childhood and was key to making winter fun when I was growing up. When I do have the opportunity to play, I take good care to prepare my body for the rapid, explosive movement that the sport demands.

Whether you’re inclined to hit the slopes or to get a pick up game together with a few friends, maintaining pain free alignment should be a priority. Not only will your performance improve with a few conditioning stretches and exercises, but it will also minimize the chance of injury. Outlined below are a handful of key moves for staying mobile and steady in your ankles, knees, and hips.

 

 

Hula Hoops Ankles: Stand with your feet parallel and hip distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and start to make small circles with your knees, moving in one direction. You’ll feel the weight of your body shift into all aspects of your feet and ankles. After 20 or so circles, switch the direction and do another round. This exercise increases range of motion in your ankles and improves balance. It will minimize rolling your ankle when moving laterally in a basketball game and will keep the ankles supple even after long hours in ski boots.

 

 

 

 

 

Knee Cappers with a Pillow or Yoga Block: Stand with your feet parallel and hip’s distance. Place an inflatable pillow or yoga block between your thighs. Bend your knees directly over your ankles, tracking your knees over your toes. Do about 5 reps to warm up, and then angle your knees to the right. Bend through center again, and then angle your knees to the left. Continue moving to the right, center, left, and center until you’ve done about 15 repetitions. It helps to do this exercise in front of a mirror so that you can monitor the tracking of your knees. This exercise assists in properly pronating and supinating while walking, but is especially beneficial for skiers and basketball players. It will train the knees to track over the ankles as you pronate and supinate the feet.

 

 

Spread Foot Forward Bend: This is a go-to exercise for anyone who wants to wake up hips and hamstrings. Tight hamstrings are a killer for winter sports enthusiasts and this exercise assists in the explosive action of jumping to block a shot and soothes the contracted position of downhill skiing. Start with your feet wide apart and parallel. Let your feet be slightly pigeon toed here so you can maximize the stretch in your outer calves. Use yoga blocks under your hands if your hamstrings feel tight. Lengthen your lower back and slowly fold over your legs, letting your hands release to the floor or blocks. Hold for 1-2 minutes. Breat.

 

 

 

 

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