Why The Yankee’s Abundance of Caution with Young Pitcher’s Arms is Not Enough

Last week, the NY Times published an article on Tommy John surgery, examining what seems like an inevitable surgical procedure for many of major league baseball’s high-speed pitchers. In an effort to preserve the arm health of new pitchers, protocols limiting the amount of pitches per game have been set to minimize the stress on a pitcher’s elbow tendons. Unfortunately, even this protocol doesn’t seem to prevent damage to young or old pitchers.

If you are a pitcher, scout, or coach, please read this carefully as it may make a huge impact on your thinking. Why aren’t the physical screens, the physical therapy, and the emphasis on mechanics and mandated rest time saving a pitcher’s elbows? What if I told you it wasn’t the elbow? Or even the shoulder? Very often when you have elbow and shoulder pain in high torque and velocity sports, the true cause is in the hips and upper back. The elbow tendinitis issue could even start as far away as the feet because collapsed arches and excessive pronation will bring about a misalignment of the hips.

Pitching has a number of similarities to Crack the Whip, a playground game we played as children. Take a look at the way it is played, courtesy of You Tube. The connection to Tommy John surgery has to do with momentum and transferred energy, just like Crack the Whip.

Imagine the energy used throughout the entire body of a pitcher throwing a 90+ mile-an-hour baseball. If the back and hips don’t allow for a smooth transfer of energy from the hips to the arms, the elbow gets jerked hard with a force that it can’t support. The elbow, like the knee, is a stability joint. It is not meant to twist or to be twisted. That twisting, turning, and rotation belongs to the thigh (hip), ankle, shoulder, and wrist. These are the designated rotatory joints of the chain, not the elbow, or the knee.

The standard response may be that pitchers are already strong. An example could be that they can gym-squat more than their own body weight. So, they already have strong backs and hips. Wrong! Just because they can move mass doesn’t mean they can move their joints and bodies in a healthy pattern.

What imbalances does an alignment therapist look for? For starters, they look to see if one hip is rotated or turned more forward than the other? Is one hip higher or lower than the other? Is it the hip or is there something going on in the ankle or the foot that is causing the hip rotation? What do the shoulders look like? Are they forward or are the tops of the shoulders resting in a nice clean line below the ears? Is there a curve in the neck and is the head balanced over the shoulders or? Is one shoulder higher, lower, or more forward than the other? Has all the muscle mass built up in the upper back, forcing a rounded over look? The more yes answers to these questions, the more likely the player is to be injured one season into his sport.

But pitchers are one-sided humans. Of course, one side will be different from the other! This tendency needs to be corrected by cross training through various modalities to develop neutral shoulders and hips. A pitcher should train for strength and mobility resulting in a proud chest with shoulders back and even, resting comfortably under the ears of a head resting on a slightly curved neck. Tight and over-developed biceps may seem cool but they can’t keep the rotator cuff engaged and the shoulders stress free. Pitching should be graceful, not mechanical.

Train to neutralize the hips so that one isn’t higher or more forward than the other. Train to make up for all the throwing on one side. Don’t rely on heavy lifts to do this. Don’t strengthen what is already strong. For full optimal stabilization, recruit all muscles, not just the big ones.

For an initial look at the overall postural and mechanical balance of a player, use the BodyFix Method™ posture and gait analysis system for an estimate. Evaluating players with this system can be like having x-ray vision for faulty movement patterns and compensations, all of which will lead to permanent dysfunctions.

With a trained BodyFix Method™ therapist, after the posture and gait analysis is complete, the therapist can then test for specific muscles that aren’t firing properly by using her skills in Muscle Activation Technique (MAT). This assessment is a series of comparative movement tests to pinpoint which muscle and even which region of the muscle isn’t firing properly. Either palpation or isometrics can then be used to wake up that inactive spot so that it can operate with the rest of the team.

What have we learned today? Elbow and shoulder pain, whether it’s from pitching, golfing, or swimming is usually caused by a dysfunction elsewhere in the body. The elbow was just the weakest point the force was traveling through.

How can we prevent this? Find the strong and overworked muscles and relax them; find the weak and underutilized muscles and make them stronger. Find the forward, hiked, and rotated joints and make them neutral. We must have symmetry in order to have grace and fluidity in movement.

Lastly, a discerning eye and proper alignment testing is key. Work with a professional and learn how to see the imbalances in action so you can test and correct the imbalances before they shake the “machine” apart.

If you have questions, comments, or would like to know more about alignment and function, please get in touch with me at kat@bodyfixmethod.com.

 

Love To Play Golf? Strengthen Your Hips, Thighs, and Knees First!

 

Golf is hard on the knees, especially knees with arthritis or knees with a previous injury. Most arthritis is really osteoarthritis, meaning that the bones of the knee joints are being beat up because of poor joint alignment. Knee injuries are related to the amount of rotation throughout the body required during the backswing and follow-through.

For a right-handed golfer, a significant amount of torque and valgus stress (stress to the inside of the knee) is generated at the left knee. The knees must stay flexed during the backswing to absorb some of the rotational stress of the swing.

Golf requires ankles that work, not just to point and flex, but also to rotate the foot in and out without using the knee or the hips. The two rotation joints in the lower body are the hip joint and the ankle. If the ankle joints don’t rotate, then the hip joints take on more work, and the knees usually becomes the victim.

For the many golfers who have tight back muscles and joints, one of the ways to attempt to generate more turn in the backswing is to place more stress on the knee. This often leads to injuries to the medial (inside) meniscus. There are also many golfers with tight hip muscles, which changes the joint alignment at the knee. This again places more stress on the knee, making it more susceptible to injury.

Most golfers play hurt, with shoulder and hip tendonitis, sore and tight muscles, and osteoarthritis, 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.

Why? Amateur golfers are often out of shape, almost always have faulty swing mechanics, and rarely warm up correctly or enough. Amateur golfers seldom have the best form and no one can get in shape to play good golf without serious conditioning. Most amateur golfers are “weekend warriors”, truly brave men and women who sit all week long and then hit the course in search of a good match, exercise, and movement.

Here is a list of injuries that will happen and each of them can be avoided. The injuries start with the lead wrist, move to the lead elbow, go to the lead shoulder, run down to the lead knee, and finally end at the low back.

  • Wrist Tendinitis
  • Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Knee Pain
  • Low Back Pain

Strengthen the muscles and joints needed for a contact sport like golf but first, correct your faulty movement patterns that can lead to significant injury. Most of us try to do too much in a short period and wind up hurting ourselves reaching for performance when we haven’t even gotten the movement of the swing down right. Once the movement is right and stability is assured, power and distance will come. Until then, you’re kidding yourself. And, you are going to hurt yourself.

If you would like some professional flexibility and mobility help, get in touch with us and schedule a Skype session with a trained therapist. Alternatively, you can spend $20 and download one of several Golfer’s Exercise Programs from our Shop Here. One or two of the programs will get you started. You can use one series all season or upgrade as you become more comfortable with your progress.

If you have questions or suggestions, please let me know at: bill@bodyfixmethod.com. We are here to help you stay healthy.

Take advantage of the amateur athlete resources available within a movement clinic like BodyFix Method™ in New York or Golf-Body NYC. Can’t get to New York? No worries. There is a golf or movement clinic in almost every city. A personal trainer at your gym may have skills that will help with your conditioning and flexibility. If there isn’t one known to you, ask. In addition, follow through and ask the pro at your club.

Can’t Wait To Play Golf? Strengthen Your Hips, Thighs, and Knees First!

With Bill Boland & Bradley Borne

For the many golfers, one of the ways to attempt to generate more turn in the backswing is to place more stress on the knee. This often leads to injuries to the medial (inside) meniscus. There are also many golfers with tight hip muscles, which changes the joint alignment at the knee. This again places more stress on the knee, making it more susceptible to injury. Strengthen the muscles and joints needed for a contact sport like golf and correct faulty movement patterns that lead to significant injury.

Saturday April 29th, 2017: 9.30am – 4.30pm
$100
Space Is Limited, Enroll Now!

Find Stability, Mobility, and Strength In Your Feet

For most of us, developing strength in our feet is not a priority. We carve out time in the gym to sculpt our leg muscles. We admire developed, defined arms. We take great pains to tend to our core in hopes of having a strong back and sleek abs. There are a great number of fitness enterprises built around promising a tight, toned posterior. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone at the gym who has even considered building strength in their feet.

Strong, supple feet are the key to moving well. As humans, we need all of our muscles to function in order to move comfortably. However, it’s arguable that without strong feet, pain is inevitable. Most people pay little attention to their feet until they experience severe foot pain. However, pain in the hips, low back, knees, and even the neck are often the result of foot weakness.

The foot has three arches. Two are longitudinal (medial and lateral) and the third is the anterior transverse arch. The muscles and ligaments of the feet maintain the three arches. Most of us begin to develop foot strength as babies when we learn to walk. Our feet are pretty flat when we’re born, but when walking barefoot as toddlers, we engage the foot muscles and our arches take shape as we reach adolescence. With well developed arches, the foot acts as a spring and we are able to engage in more sophisticated movement like running and jumping. A spring-like foot assists in distributing the weight of the body and absorbing shock during movement.

However, as we age, most of us spend less time running, jumping, and using our feet. Even if we spend plenty of time working out, our foot strength and flexibility is minimized by bulky athletic footwear that shields our feet from sensation and progressively weakens the feet. Because we can no longer absorb the shock, we develop pain elsewhere in the body, but we would never guess that those pains are related to our immobile, flat feet.

If you have chronic pain, chances are good that your feet are playing a role. Try the following exercises for strong, mobile feet that can support your body in motion. After a few weeks you might notice a reduction in nagging hip pain or an aching neck. You’ll walk and move with less stiffness and more grace. Give them a shot!

Supine Foot Circles and Toe Point Flexes: Do this exercise every morning before you get out of bed. It wakes up the feet and activates calf, shin, and the peroneal muscles of the lower calves. It’s a must for anyone who hopes to keep walking well into old age. Make these a part of your morning routine and you’ll feel energized and ready to move.

Seated Toe Scrunches:  Nothing beats this exercise for building strong and pliable arches and gaining mobility. It’s definitely a workout, and your feet might be sore at first, but after a few weeks you’ll notice that you’re much more supported when you’re standing. You may feel less of an urge to lean into one hip when standing, so you can lose the hip pain!

Seated Rocking Horse:  You’ll need this exercise for good walking mechanics. This easy exercise teaches the feet to utilize all four rockers of the feet and to access good foot lift (dorsi flexion) and foot push (plantar flexion). Your feet will feel more supple and energized. If you suffer from a sore neck, then this exercise is for you! Your neck is sore because you are using it to walk instead of your strong and flexible feet.

Seated Plantar Fasciitis Stretch: This exercise opens up the plantar fascia running under the sole of the foot, which can become stiff and tight, limiting foot mobility. Expanding the suppleness and flexibility of the fascia of the foot can help foot muscles maintain their integrity so that the feet can move well.

Don’t let weak feet limit your movement. Swing by BodyFix for a more complete analysis and a full body evaluation. Your feet (and hips, and shoulders) will thank you! It’s an hour out of your day and the benefits are for a lifetime!

 

 

Here’s A Surprise Cause of Low Back Pain… Rounded Shoulders!

More than 80 percent of Americans will experience low back pain at some time in their lives. Total costs of the condition are estimated at more than $100 billion annually, with two-thirds of that due to decreased wages and productivity. This is a huge price for a society to pay for a condition that can be avoided. On an individual level, this is a painful condition that can be prevented with a little attention and care.

A recent study from the American College of Physicians found that lower back pain is one the most common reasons that people go to the doctor. It is also the accepted basis for taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication. Now, new guidelines from this study are recommending exercise, yoga, or massage as a better form of treatment than medication.

This is a huge shift in thinking, and a most welcome one. For years, the go-to solution for back pain has been a quick fix pill, which brings only temporary relief. This intensive study, which combined data from 150 studies, suggests that holistic approaches to the body are a better solution. As we look to alleviate our back pain with exercise and massage, it brings up a most pertinent question. What is causing our lower back pain?

Rounded shoulders are one of the major causes of lower back pain. Yes, it is that simple. As a culture, we sit. And we sit. And we sit some more. As we sit, we begin to round our shoulders and slouch. Rounded shoulders disrupt the connection between the hips and the shoulders. This tightens the big muscles of the hips and also reduces thoracic rib rotation, which is critical for a natural walking pattern. It forces the ankles and the feet to work overtime. Let’s take a closer look at these relationships.

As the shoulders round, the large back muscles called the latissimus dorsi (lats) that connect your shoulders to your sacrum are stretched. If you sit enough with rounded shoulders, it becomes your body’s pattern. So, when you stand up, it is impossible to move out of that pattern, to stand up tall with your shoulders back and down.

With this not-so-subtle change, your lats can no longer do their job of connecting your shoulder to your opposite pelvis as you walk. The lats play a huge role in walking, as they are part of your posterior (back) diagonal line of muscles, ligaments, and fascia. As you take a step forward with your left foot, your left lats should fire with your right glute muscles. If that pattern is unstable or not happening, then your walking will be compromised. You start walking with your hips and not with your legs. Welcome to pain in your lower back.

Rounded shoulders cause a tightening of your hip muscles. If you lose proper function of your posterior diagonal line in walking, then your glute muscles stop firing correctly. The hips stiffen up and become fixed in place. Your butt muscles should fire with every step that you take to propel you forward with a nice long stride. If they are under performing, your stride will be short and you will not experience enough length in the hip flexors. The hip flexors are the muscles at the front of the thigh that lift your leg when you take a step.

Next, rotation of your ribs is a critical part of walking. With every step that you take, your ribs should rotate. If your shoulders are rounded, then your ribs will be depressed, sunk down towards your pelvis, eliminating the curve in your lower back. So, you will no be able to experience thoracic rib rotation when taking a stride. This is a direct contributor to lower back pain.

If your ribs are sunken and fixed, your stride will be short and your deep back muscles (Quadratus Lumborum) and your External and Internal Obliques will not have the opportunity to work and lengthen as you move. The result will be a feeling of compression in your torso, a sense that you have lost your waist, and lower back pain.

Rounded shoulders also impact the function of your ankles and feet, which in turn, affect your lower back. As your shoulders round, your body weight falls forward onto the balls of your feet. This shift in weight inhibits optimal ankle movement (dorsiflexion and plantar flexion) in walking. Without good ankle mobility, the heel-toe walking pattern is disrupted, so your landing is on the mid foot rather than on the heel. This shortens the stride and adds more jarring to the lower back. Without the gracefulness of a heel-toe walking pattern, the lower back muscles can’t function properly, and they become short, compressed, and painful.

So, if rounded shoulders are causing your lower back pain…what can you do to unwind your stiff and tight shoulders and get them back on your back where they belong?

Here are 4 Easy Exercises to Retrain Rounded Shoulders…and to Heal Your Lower Back!

  1. Bent Knee Resting Position. Assume the position as shown in the picture. You are lying supine with your knees bent. Use a strap around your legs. Lie and rest in this position for up to 15 minutes a day. Allow gravity to unwind the tension in your shoulders and neck. Feel how your shoulder blades begin to drop to floor as you rest here.
  2. Upper Spinal Floor Twist. As shown in the photo, lie on one side with your knees bent to 90 degrees. Open your top arm up and over into a twist, look in the direction of the twist. Hold and breathe for 2 minutes. Come back to center and repeat on the other side.
  3. Seated Shoulder Blade Squeezes. Sit in a chair as shown in the picture. Strongly squeeze your shoulder blades together and release. Don’t let your elbows do the work, just the shoulder blades. Do 3 sets of 15.
  4. Standing Arm Circles. Stand in the center of the room as pictured here. Close you hands in a light fist, thumbs out. Do 20 arm circles in backwards and 20 forward. Follow your thumbs. Keep your shoulders on your back the entire time.

If you have lower back pain now and your shoulders are rounded, start doing this sequence daily. Rounded shoulders are a big cause of low back pain, a cause often overlooked, but one that can be easily corrected.

At BodyFix Method™, we look at the posture and alignment of the whole body to address chronic and traumatic pain. For a copy of this program or to schedule a personal consultation, email me at anita@bodyfixmethod.com.

 

Take care and be well,

Anita Goodkind

 

 

 

 

 

How To Keep Spring in Your Step!

As the seasons change, so do our bodies, our temperaments, and the way we respond to the new environment. The heavy jacket comes off, hands come out of our pockets, and we begin to enjoy the warm rays of the sun.

In simpler times, the longer days would mean more outside activities and an earlier start to the workday. Before electricity, and in an agricultural society, most people got up when the sun rose and went to bed when the sun set. Modern 24-hour lighting, however, has now made us a society that is up 24-hours. As a result, many of us have trouble sleeping through the night. Our circadian rhythms are off and our bodies can’t tell day from night. Our bodies don’t relate well to a clock.

Just as it was important to take care of our unique needs in the winter season, it is also important to adapt to our spring and summer biological needs.

The chief grumbles that I’ve been hearing this past week are about the weather and the seasonal changes. As in, “I’m tired of winter and I can’t wait for spring”. This imbalance between winter and spring brings us trouble with sleep, fatigue, and congestion. Since sleep strongly affects our posture (how things look), our alignment (how things work), congestion, and fatigue, let’s focus on sleep.

Winter’s early nightfall brings shorter days, longer nights, and the cool temperatures at night, making sleep easy. Spring rolls in, and our mornings get brighter, and our days get longer. We welcome the sunlight and the longer days and rush about to take advantage of the pleasures of spring. For some, the longer sunlit evenings aren’t a problem; however, the morning sun arriving hours before our scheduled wake time can be a problem.

Here are some DIY bedroom fixes to give you a better shot at a good night’s sleep.

Light

Make sure that you can get your room to total or close to total darkness. Lighting, whether it is early morning sun or night-time street lights, can have a huge impact on Stage 3 REM cycles that we need to take advantage of our healing time and sleep. Block out exit light such as digital clocks or nightlights and look for a set of blackout curtains to keep light from coming in.

A few years ago, my dad had tried just about everything to try and sleep through the night. Nothing, not even medication, would work. He went to a sleep lab where they monitored his sleeping habits to make sure nothing biological was preventing him from sleeping. They ran several tests and found that he had sensitivity to light. Asked about his sleeping environment, he said, “Well, there’s a Neighborhood Alert light right outside my bedroom window that even shines through our blinds. It doesn’t prevent my falling asleep, so I never thought to change the blinds.” My parents switched over to blackout curtains and my dad’s sleep improved. So did other aspects of his health. If you love the curtains you have and don’t want to purchase new ones, you can find some wonderful DIY tricks online that will show you how to iron or sew on backings to make your favorite curtains blackout ready.

 

Sound

Noise reduction is important for optimal sleeping, as you want to have as little sound as possible. Do a quick scan of your room and make sure there’s no extraneous source of noise such as a ticking clock or a humming computer. A fan, a “white noise” machine, or an app that plays sound at Delta wave lengths work very well for many.

An added benefit to blackout curtains is that the heavier fabric also acts as a good sound barrier for noise coming through the window. In my apartment, a lot of noise was coming in from a gap between the floor and the doorframe. A few dollars invested in rubber foam stops and a little lining on the doors, and I was able to cut sound transfer dramatically.

If you’re sleeping, so should your phone. There is a nighttime setting letting you turn off the ringer between sleeping time and waking time. You can leave select numbers open in case of emergency. Use it. Everything else will be silent until your scheduled waking hour. Just unplug.

If you live in an apartment and have noisy neighbors, look into adding foam panels that will block the sound. It will also make the room more energy efficient.

 

Temperature

For a good night’s sleep, you want a cool head and a warm body. The ideal sleeping temperature is cool, around 65ºF. The lower temperature at night helps cue your body for rest just as it would if you were camping. The modern advantage to this is added savings on your early spring heating bill.

 

Electronics

Have you ever had a terrible night’s sleep and woken up to find that you left your phone or tablet right next to your head? We sleep best at a very low Delta wave frequency. Electronics emit wavelengths at a much higher frequency. Our bodies are sensitive enough that these outside frequencies can actually mess with our brain’s ability to stay in that optimally low sleep setting. The light emitted from the screens also messes with us and triggers receptors into thinking that it’s still daylight.

The ideal solution is to turn off electronics an hour before bed and then, keep them out of the sleep area. That is not always practical for the average modern human. Fortunately, there are several new apps and settings on all your devices which change the screen color throughout the day to light spectrums that will minimize the impact on your circadian rhythm. Try one. They work.

If your phone is your alarm and you don’t want to leave it in another room while you sleep, look into Faraday cage pouch for your phone. This is a little metal mesh pouch is used to keep frequencies from being transmitted in our out. It will eliminate all calls being received, so use it when you must.

Waking up to a loud ring, a bang, or any jarring sound is not good for you. Waking up gently at the lighter point of a sleep can have a huge impact on the rest of your day. There are apps that can use your phone’s microphone to track your restless and peaceful patterns to gage where you are in your sleep cycle. By doing this, they are able to estimate the lightest part of your sleep cycle and wake you then so the waking process is less jarring. I’ve used this many times when my sleep habits have fallen off course. I highly recommend it for frequent travelers. Ideally, you want to give yourself a 30-minute window for the app to know when to wake you. I have found 15 minutes to be the minimum window for it to be still effective.

I hope you have found this helpful. Try a few of these tips and see how you feel. I would love to hear how they work for you. Of course, if you have sleeping solutions to share, please let us hear from you.

Click here to read up on Neck and Shoulder Stretches for restful sleep!

Sweet dreams and good health.

 

 

 

 

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.