Category Archives: Personal Injury

The real (and surprising) reasons healthy movement matters. It’s not about busting your butt to get a gym body. It’s about being capable, confident, and free.

To most people, healthy movement = exercise. As in cardio, crunches, and fitness models. But moving your body is about so much more, like improved thinking, stronger relationships, and expressing your purpose in life. 

When most people hear healthy movement, they think exercise or fitness or looking better or weight loss.

Sometimes, vanity.

Often, fitting into social norms.

“The man” telling you what to do (or how to be).

Moral righteousness packaged as 6am Hot Detox Spin-Late Pump class or an entire weekend of Instagram-worthy self-punishment.

But healthy movement is actually more interesting, liberating, and, frankly, crucial than all that.

In my years as a health and fitness coach, here’s the most important thing I’ve discovered: Developing a body that moves well is the ticket to a place where you feel — finally — capable, confident, and free.

We are all, literally, born to move.

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It’s no secret: Human life has become structured in a way that makes it very easy to avoid movement.

We sit in cars on the way to work. At work we sit at our desks for much of the day. Then we come home and sit down to relax.

That’s not what our bodies are built for, so creaky knees, stiff backs, and “I can’t keep up with my toddler!” have become the norm.

Sure, if you can’t move well, it may be a sign that you aren’t as healthy as you could be. But the quality and quantity of your daily movement — your strength and agility — are actually markers for something much more important.

In my line of work, you watch a lot of people lose a lot of weight. The results would shock you — and I’m not talking about how they look on the beach in their bathing suits (although there is always a big celebration for that).

Most often, the thing people are most excited about after they go from heavy and stiff to lean and agile is this feeling that they’re now living better. They notice they’re:

  • more energetic and young-feeling,
  • able to do things they’ve been putting off for years,
  • empowered,
  • proud of their lifestyle, and
  • free from many of the anxieties and limitations that held them back for so long.

They’re happier, but not just because they wanted to look better, and now they do. They’re happier because their bodies now work like they’re supposed to. They can now do things they know they ought to be able to do.

As humans, we move our bodies to express our wants, needs, emotions, thoughts, and ideas. Ultimately, how well we move — and how much we move — determines how well we engage with the world and establish our larger purpose in life.

If you move well, you also think, feel, and live well.

It’s proven that healthy movement helps us:

  • Feel well, physically and emotionally
  • Function productively
  • Think, learn, and remember
  • Interact with the world
  • Communicate and express ourselves
  • Connect and build relationships with others

We don’t need “workouts” to move.

Shocking secret: There’s nothing magic about a resistance circuit, the bootcamp class at your gym, or the latest branded training method.

Our ancestors didn’t need to “work out” when they were walking, climbing, running, crawling, swimming, clambering, hauling, digging, squatting, throwing, and carrying things to survive. Nor did they need an “exercise class” when they ran to get places, danced to share stories or celebrate rituals, or simply… played.

“Working out” is just an artificial way to get us to do what our bodies have, for most of human history, known and loved — regular movements we lost and forgot as we matured as a species.

We may not hunt for dinner anymore, and we may opt for the elevator more often than not.

We may move less. But movement is still programmed into the human brain as a critical aspect of how we engage with the world.

Therefore, to not move is a loss much, much greater than your pant size.

What factors determine how your body moves?

While there are universal human movement patterns, our specific movement habits are unique to us, and to our individual bioengineering.

Basically, the human body amounts to a sophisticated pile of interconnected levers:

  • Muscles are attached to bones with tendons.
  • These tendons connect to two (or more) bones across a joint.
  • When a muscle contracts, or shortens, the tendons pull on the bone.
  • That contraction and pull causes the joint to flex (bend) or extend (straighten).

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How you move is determined by the size, shape and position of all of those parts, along with anything that adds weight, like body fat.

If you’re a tall person with long bones it may be harder for you to bench press, squat, or deadlift the amount of weight your shorter buddy can, because your range of motion is much bigger than your friend’s, so you have to move that weight a longer distance with much longer levers.

(This is why there aren’t many super-tall weightlifters or powerlifters, and why great bench pressers usually have a big ribcage and stubby T-Rex arms.)

But you can probably spank your short friend at swimming, climbing, and running.

If you’re bottom-heavy and/or shorter, you may not be able to run as fast as your taller friend. But you may have exceptional balance.

If you’ve gained weight in your middle (or if you’re pregnant), you may have back pain. That’s because the extra belly weight pulls downward on the lumbar spine (lower back).

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When the lumbar spine is pulled down and forward (“lordosis”):

  • The pelvis also tips forward (“anterior pelvic tilt”), which pokes the tailbone back and the belly forward — aka Donald Duck Butt.
  • The upper/mid back may round to compensate (“kyphosis”).

The downward pull can also affect all the joints below (the pelvis, hip, knee, and ankle).

Conversely, it also works in the opposite direction, where, say, ankle stiffness can affect movement in the lower back.

If you have wider shoulders (“biacromial width”), then you have a longer lever arm, which means you can potentially throw, pull, swim or hit better.

If you have longer legs, then you have longer stride, which means you can potentially run faster. This is especially true if you also have narrower hips, which create a more vertical femur angle (“Q-angle”), allowing you to waste less energy controlling pelvic rotation.

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Some variations in movement, we are given by nature and evolution. Other variations, we learn and practice.

If you’re a woman who’s top-heavy, you may have developed a hunch in your thoracic spine (upper and mid-back), whether from the physical weight of your breasts or from the social awkwardness of being The Girl With Boobs in middle school.

Or, if you got really tall at an early age, you may have developed a habitual hunch to hide your size or communicate with hobbits like me.

Yet the structural engineering remains important. Especially if we understand how our structures and physical makeup affect our movements.

For instance:

Body fat and weight change how we move.

This is especially true if you don’t have enough muscle to drive the engine.

At a healthy weight, your center of mass is just in front of your ankle joints when you stand upright.

However, the more mass you have, especially if you have extra weight in front, the harder your lower legs and feet have to work to keep you from tipping forward.

This puts additional torque (rotational force) on ankle joints.

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Once you start walking — which is, essentially, a controlled forward fall — you have to work even harder to compensate.

Any unstable or changing surface (stairs, ice, fluffy carpet, a wet floor), requires your lower joints to adjust powerfully and almost instantaneously — literally millisecond to millisecond.

As a result, obese children and adults fall more often.

Human bodies are amazingly adaptable and clever, but nevertheless, physics can be an unforgiving master.

The good news is that this is generally reversible.

No matter where you’re starting, the more you move, the better your body will function.

When we move:

  • our muscles contract;
  • we load our connective tissues and bones;
  • we increase our respiration and circulation; and
  • we release particular hormones and cell signals.

All of these (and a variety of other physiological processes) tell our bodies to use its raw materials and the food we eat in certain ways.

For instance, movement tells our bodies:

  • to retrieve stored energy (e.g. fat or glucose) and use it;
  • to store any extra energy in muscles, or use it for repair, rather than storing it as fat;
  • to strengthen tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones; and
  • to clear out accumulated waste products.

And improved body functions ensure you’ll be able to move well and:

  • climb stairs or hills
  • step over obstacles
  • carry groceries
  • stand up from sitting down, or get up from the floor
  • grasp and hold objects like a hammer
  • pull or drag things like a heavy door or garbage can
  • walk an excitable dog

The more we can do confidently and capably, the fitter we’ll be. Even better, that means we’ll do more. That leads to more fitness. And this virtuous cycle continues.

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Movement does more than just “get us into shape”.

Despite eyeglasses and iPhones, humans are still animals. We’re meant to move with the grace and agility of a tiger (or a monkey). And movement offers us a tremendous number of (sometimes surprising) benefits.

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Movement is how humans (and other animals) interact with the world.

As babies, we immediately start grabbing things, putting things in our mouths, reaching for things, and clinging to our (now less furry) primate parents.

We are tactile, kinesthetic beings who must directly interact with physical stimuli: touching, tasting, manipulating, moving ourselves around objects in three-dimensional space.

Movement helps us connect and build relationships with others.

Movement is a sensor for the world around us.

In one study, when people’s facial muscles were paralyzed with Botox, they couldn’t read others’ emotions or describe their own. We need to mimic and mirror the body language and facial cues of one another to connect emotionally and mentally.

From the puffed-chest posturing of drunken young men outside a bar, to Beyonce’s fierce dance moves, to the mating rituals like close leaning and eye contact, to the laser stare your mom gives you when she knows you’re up to no good:

Movement gives us a rich, nuanced expressive language that goes far beyond words, helping us build more fulfilling and lasting relationships, with fewer misunderstandings, disconnections, or communication bloopers.

Movement helps us think, learn, and remember.

You might imagine that “thinking” lives only in your head.

But in reality, research shows we do what’s called “embodied cognition” — in which the body’s movements influence brain functions like processing information and decision making, and vice versa.

So “thinking” lives in our entire bodies.

But even if thinking were limited to our brains, there is evidence that movement and thought are intertwined.

It turns out that the cerebellum — a structure at the base of the brain previously thought to only be used for balance, posture, coordination, and motor skills — also plays a role in thinking and emotion.

Also, movement supports brain health and function in many ways, by helping new neurons grow and thrive (i.e. neurogenesis).

Every day, our brains produce thousands of new neurons, especially in our hippocampal region, an area involved in learning and memory. Movement — whether learning new physical skills or simply doing exercise that improves circulation — gives the new cells a purpose so that they stick around rather than dying.

Thus, movement:

  • helps maintain existing brain structures,
  • helps slow age-related mental decline,
  • helps us recover if our brain is injured or inflamed,
  • lowers oxidative stress, and
  • increases the levels of a substance known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which is involved in learning and memory.

Move well, move often, get smarter.

Movement affects how we feel physically and emotionally.

People of all shapes and sizes say they have a better quality of life, with fewer physical limitations, when they are physically active.

If you exercise regularly, you probably know that kickass workouts can leave you feeling like a million bucks. (Personally I think of mine as anti-bitch meds.)

Research that compared exercise alone to diet alone found:

People who change their bodies with exercise (rather than dieting) feel better — about their bodies, about their capabilities, about their health, and about their overall quality of life — even if their weight ultimately doesn’t change.

(Now… just imagine if you combined the magic of exercise with brain-boosting and body-building nutrition!)

Find out what “healthy movement” looks like for you.

Not everyone has to be (or can be) a ballet dancer or Olympic gymnast. As a 5-foot, 40-something woman who can’t run well nor catch a ball, I’m fairly sure the NBA and NFL won’t be calling me.

But I’m also not saying that, “Well, guess I shouldn’t climb the stairs because of my Q-angle” is the way to go.

I’m saying: Today, pay special attention to how you move.

Be curious.

As you go through the mundane activities of your day, notice how your unique body shapes your movements.

How do you move… and how could you potentially move?

In our coaching programs, we work with a lot of clients who have physical limitations, such as:

  • chronic pain or movement restrictions — say, from an injury or inflammation.
  • too much body fat and/or not enough lean mass.
  • too many or too few calories/nutrients to feel energetic.
  • age-related loss of mobility.
  • a physical disability.
  • neurological problems.

You may have some body configuration that makes it easier or harder for you to do certain things.

We all have structural or physical limitations. We all have advantages. It all depends on context.

Regardless of what your unique physical makeup might be, there are activities that can work for you, and help you make movement a big part of your daily life.

Ask yourself:

How can I move better — whatever that means for MY unique body? And what might my life be like if I did?

And finding someone who can help you if you think that’s what you need.

What to do next

1. Pay attention to how it feels to move.

“Sense in” to your body:

  • When you walk or run: How long is your stride? Do your legs swing freely? Do your hips feel tight or loose? What are your arms doing? Where are you looking?
  • When you stand: How does your weight shift gently as you stand? What does that feel like in your feet or lower legs?
  • When you sit: Where is your head? Can you feel the pressure of the seat on your back or bottom?
  • When you work out: Can you feel the muscles working? What happens if you try to do a fast movement (like a jump or kick) slowly, and vice versa?

2. Consider whether you’re moving as well as you could.

Do you feel confident and capable? Ninja-ready for anything?

Do you have some physical limitations? Do you have ways to adapt or route around them?

When was the last time you tried learning new movement skills?

What movements would you like to try… in a perfect world?

3. Think about other ways to move.

If you’re working out a certain way because you think you “should”, but it’s not fitting your body well, consider other options.

Or, if your current workout is going great but you’re curious about other possibilities, consider expanding your movement repertoire anyway.

Everything from archery to Zumba is out there, waiting for you to come and try it out.

Remember: You don’t have to “work out” or “exercise” to move. And you don’t need to revamp your physical activity overnight, either.

Take your time. Do what you like. Pick one small new way you can move today — and do it.

4. Help your body do its job with good nutrition.

Quality movement requires quality nutrition.

And just like your movements, your nutritional needs are unique to you.

Here’s how to start figuring out what “optimal nutrition” means for you:

If you feel like you need help on these fronts, get it.

A good fitness and nutrition coach can:

  • help you find activities that suit your body.
  • review your nutrition and offer advice on how to improve your diet (even if your life is hectic).
  • help you identify any potential food sensitivities that could be causing or worsening inflammation and thus restricting your movements.
For full article by Krista Scott-Dixon, please visit http://www.precisionnutrition.com/healthy-movement

TEXT NECK: HOW TO AVOID STRAINS AND PAINS

Our modern digital age has brought us many conveniences. BlackBerry devices, iPhones, tablets and e-readers allow us to communicate and be entertained with the push of a button. Technology can improve our quality of life, but it comes with a price: being huddled over devices for long period of times can do more harm than good.

Using certain devices for extended periods of time can easily lead to neck strain, headaches, and pain in the shoulders, arms and hands. Anyone who has used a cellphone or tablet for an extensive amount of time has probably experienced the peculiar strain it puts on your upper body. These conditions even have their own name now: Text Neck.

Here are some simple strategies to help shut down text neck strain:

Take frequent breaks

Taking frequent breaks and looking up from your device can provide your neck with some relief from the pressure of looking down.

Sit up straight

It is important to sit up straight while texting. This way you can maintain good posture, relieving your back and shoulders from the strain of being hunched over.

Hold the phone a little higher

Holding the phone closer to eye level helps maintain a healthy posture and puts less strain on the neck.

Stretch

Be sure to stretch often between long periods of extended use of devices. You can rotate your shoulders with your arms by your sides to relieve tension. You can also tuck your chin down to your neck and then look up – this helps to relieve some of the tension in your neck built from the common forward-down position you adopt when looking at your device.

How intense workouts (and overtraining) can ruin your results. Here’s how to know what’s TOO MUCH when it comes to exercise.

In the fitness industry, everyone’s obsessed with “more”. More cardio. More squats. More gym time. More calorie restriction. But if you’re not careful, “more” can lead to overtraining, injury, and illness. Here’s how to know what’s TOO MUCH when it comes to exercise.

I’ve been coaching clients for nearly 25 years and I’ve seen many of them treat their bodies like teenagers learning to drive a car.

Vroom.

Full speed ahead on killer workouts! Max effort each time! Add another hour of cardio!

Errrt!

Get hurt. Get sick. Feel discouraged.

Vroom.

Cut calories! Weigh and measure everything!

Errrt!

Lose control. Feel even more discouraged.

We see this cycle of alternatively slamming the gas, then brake, then gas, then brake with our Precision Nutrition Coaching clients.

When they decide to get moving, they go hard.

They throw everything — energy, time, resources — at their their weight loss, strength gain, or health goals. They feel invigorated and energized, high on their new workout drug.

Have you tried Workout X? they ask their coworkers.

Feel my quads, it’s amazing!

This full throttle approach seems to work for a little while.

Until… it doesn’t.

One day it’s hard to get out of bed. Shoulders and knees ache a bit. They get a bit of a cough or feel run down.

A week later they miss an easy lift. They reach for the ice pack. No big deal.

The week after, they’re dialing their chiro or physio’s office. Or lying on the couch with a back spasm that feels like giving bellybutton birth to a sea urchin.

What happened? Where did it all go wrong?

The problem isn’t the exercise, or even the intensity.

The problem is not balancing stress with recovery.

Training vs. straining.

Exercise is a stressor. Usually a good one. But a stressor nonetheless.

If you exercise intensely and/or often, you add stress to a body that may already be stressed from other life stuff like work, relationships, travel, late nights, etc.

This isn’t a bad thing. Exercise can indeed help relieve stress.

But in terms of a physical demand, we still need to help our bodies recover from all the stress we experience.

How well you’ll recover (and how much extra recovery you might need) depends on your allostatic load — i.e. how much total stress you’re under at any given moment.

In other words, those days when you were late for work and your boss yelled at you and you spilled ketchup on your favorite shirt and you were up all night caring for a sick child — and then you went to the gym and tried to nail a PR?

It’ll take longer for you to recover from that workout than it would have if you’d done it on a day you slept well, woke up to sunshine, and had a terrific breakfast.

The right amount of exercise, at the right intensity, and the right time:

We train. We learn. We get healthier and stronger.

Too much exercise, with too high an intensity, too often:

We strain. We stress. We shut down. And break down.

Mission Control: Our bodies.

Overtraining isn’t a failure of willpower or the fate of weak-minded wimps. Our bodies have complex feedback loops and elegant shutdown systems that actively prevent us from over-reaching or pushing ourselves too hard.

Two systems are at play:

  • Our central nervous system (CNS) acts like a car engine regulator. If the engine on a car revs too high for too long, it shuts down. Similarly, if we exercise too much, our brain tries to protect our muscles by reducing the rate of nerve impulses so we can’t (or don’t want to) move as much. And we certainly can’t work as hard.
  • Local fatigue, the result of energy system depletion and/or metabolic byproduct accumulation, makes your muscles feel really tired, lethargic, and weak. Using our car analogy, this is sort of like running out of gas.

Training too frequently and intensely — again, without prioritizing recovery — means that stress never subsides.

We never get a chance to put gas in the tank or change the oil. We just drive and drive and drive, mashing the pedals harder and harder.

If we “lift the hood” we might see:

  • Poor lubrication: Our connective tissues are creaky and frayed.
  • Radiator overheating: More inflammation.
  • Battery drained: Feel-good brain chemicals and anabolic (building-up) hormones have gone down.
  • Rust: Catabolic (breaking-down) hormones such as cortisol have gone up.

As a result, you might experience:

  • Blood sugar ups and downs.
  • Depression, anxiety, and/or racing thoughts.
  • Trouble sleeping or early wakeups.
  • Food cravings, maybe even trouble controlling your eating.
  • Lower metabolism due to decreased thyroid hormone output.
  • Disrupted sex hormones (which means less mojo overall, and in women, irregular or missing menstrual cycles).

Here’s the thing.

You don’t get to decide if you need recovery or not.

Your body will decide for you.

If you don’t build recovery into your plan, your body will eventually force it.

The more extreme your overtraining, the more you’ll “pay” via illness, injury, or exhaustion. The more severe the payback, the more “time off” you’ll need from exercise.

That’s a bummer. Now your car has stalled, or worse — gone backwards. Argh.

What drives people to overtrain?

Some folks in our Precision Nutrition Coaching program worry that the prescribed workouts and daily habits won’t be enough. So they add more exercise and subtract food.

What’s driving them?

1. Some depend on intense exercise to feel good about themselves.

They might tell themselves it’s “for their health” or “to get the perfect body”.

But, the truth is, many people depend on their extreme exercise regimen to feel good about themselves.

Take this client story from Precision Nutrition Coach Krista Schaus:

Early on in the program, a client’s weight went up a few pounds on a particular measurement day. I went on high alert.

I called her and could hear the treadmill rolling in the background. “Uh, what are you doing… right now?”

Turns out she was into her 40th minute of a 60 minute “post-measurement day guilt workout”.

I yelled, “Get off the *&%! treadmill… Now!”

Right then and there we made each other a promise: No more extra work. PN training program only.

She was terrified of eating more and doing less. But, after her first week of “eating more and doing less”, she lost 3 pounds.

(Before, she had been doing “everything right” and not losing a pound.)

A few months later, she’d lost 10 pounds and 6% body fat. She looked healthy, fit and amazing. People would ask for her secret.

Those intense, laborious workouts can feel good. Almost… too good.

Strenuous exercise releases chemicals that kill pain and make us happy… temporarily.

By the way, these chemicals are also released when your body thinks you’re in big trouble and about to die. Their evolutionary job is to help us float away in a happy painless haze as the saber-toothed tiger is eating our arm off. So in a sense, they’re stress-related chemicals.

For some people, these chemicals become a “hit”.

Pushing their bodies to the limit and working hard becomes their drug.

2. Intense exercise gives you a sense of control over your body and life.

It’s drilled into people’s heads via popular media: If you want control over how your body looks, hit the gym (and then hit it again).

Here’s another client’s story, in their own words:

I ran 7 marathons over the course of about 10 years, each time hoping that this training round would be the one that got me thinner.

But the harder I worked, the more frustrated I got. Which I used to propel myself harder, over more miles.

The more I trained, the hungrier I was. It was a massive battle against appetite, all day long.

I never got thinner. Sometimes I gained.

I got stressed out, cold after cold after random infection, and increasingly unhappy with myself.

For me, what I needed to finally drop those last 5-10 pounds wasn’t exercise for 1-2 hours a day, it was to go harder for shorter periods of time, and give myself enough downtime to recover.

It became so much easier to achieve a slight energy deficit when my body felt more at-ease, less pushed to the limits all the time.

Muscles stayed and got stronger. Fat shrunk away.

People who overtrain often want to try hard and do their best to reach their goals. They think they’re “doing what it takes”.

If some exercise is good, more must be better, right?

3. Most people don’t know that overtraining can work against them.

Precision Nutrition clients who are overtraining are often shocked to learn they’re doing too much. Nobody’s ever told them that there’s a “sweet spot” for exercise that balances work and recovery.

Usually, people learn about the risks of overtraining the hard way — like this client from our men’s coaching program:

Last week I injured my ribs and back. Not enough to put me out of commission, and it’s not serious, but it was a real pain in the a$s.

Certain positions and actions (like sneezing) felt like a knife in my side. I had to cut certain exercises out (e.g. push-ups), and I couldn’t jump rope or sprint, either.

I still did the workouts every day, but I had to cut back on the weight (I used about 80% of what I typically use), and for the intervals, scale back the intensity.

Now here’s the interesting part: When I was done with the workouts, I felt really good, as opposed to the fall-on-the-floor wiped out feeling I usually have. And I wasn’t sore the next day either.

In fact, I’ve been really looking forward to these workouts.

I thought: Hey, this is fun!

But then I had this other nagging thought: Am I just a wimp?

Anyway, all this got me thinking: What the hell am I working out so hard every day for? Should I be killing myself?

I’m not a competitor. Nobody knows or cares how fast I run or how much I squat.

I’m starting to think I should be ending a workout feeling like “I could do that again right now if I had to.” I call that “training”.

The opposite would be pushing myself to the limit frequently, feeling completely pooped after a workout. I call that “straining”.

It seems pretty obvious I won’t make a lot of fast progress by “training”, but on the other hand, I gotta wonder: How long can I keep going if I am “straining”?

Notice that this concept of training vs. straining is a true revelation to him!

Sometimes, less is more.

Putting in a consistent good effort over the long haul is much more sustainable than cycles of “crash and burn”.

This client’s slow and steady efforts paid off — he lost 20 pounds and 10 percent of his body fat in 6 months.

More importantly, he recovered, stayed uninjured, and kept having fun.

Do what truly works.

Look, if “pump till you puke” and hours of treadmill torture worked, we’d make our clients do it.

But it doesn’t work.

So we don’t do it.

Exercise should make us feel, look, perform and live better… not crush us.

Movement should help us function freely… not incapacitate us.

What if you could leave the gym feeling energized, not exhausted?

What if, instead of doing more, you could do better?

Recovery: Overtraining antidote.

Here’s your first tip: “Overtraining” isn’t exactly the problem.

The problem is more like “under-recovering”.

Your body can actually handle a tremendous amount of work… if you recover properly and fully from that work.

Your stress-recovery pattern should look like rolling hills: For every up (training or life stress) there’s a down (recovery).

For every intense workout, there’s an equally intense focus on activities that help your body repair and rebuild.

This doesn’t mean you need to retreat to your dark and quiet blanket fort and get massages every day… although that does sound awesome.

Check out our recovery tips below.

Free your mind, and your body will follow.

When you factor in recovery as a crucial part of your training regimen, a funny thing happens.

You start to think of training completely differently.

What if you could “exercise” on a continuum — where every movement “counts”?

What if you could balance high with low, heavy with light, work with play in a natural, organic rhythm?

Here are some ways to find balance.

An effective physical activity routine incorporates:

  1. Resistance training
  2. Intervals
  3. Active recovery
  4. Fun

You can do that no matter how much time you have to devote to physical activity.

Here’s what the balance looks like in Precision Nutrition Coaching:

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Precision Nutrition Coaching clients who have the most success aren’t usually the ones who do the biggest, most challenging workouts.

Instead, they’re the ones who find small ways of getting movement whenever and wherever they can.

That includes real-life functional movement, such as:

  • Biking or walking to work (or running to catch that damn bus)
  • Walking to the grocery store and carrying your groceries home
  • Washing the car
  • Giving the walls a fresh coat of paint
  • Teaching your kids how to fly a kite
  • Shoveling snow, raking leaves, planting a garden, or mowing the lawn

When you think of movement this way, it stops becoming “a workout” (i.e. a chore, or a gauntlet you have to psych yourself up for) and starts becoming “your daily life” (i.e. something that is easy, seamless, and always with you).

What to do next.

If you’re feeling some of the symptoms described in this article, here are a few steps you can take to start feeling better.

1. Do a little self-assessment.

For some of us, skipping a workout is no biggie.

For others, taking a day off requires effort. Doing less can make you feel uneasy.

If spending more time away from your self-imposed bootcamp freaks you out, ask yourself:

  • What are you doing this for? What are your actual goals, and why?
  • How do you feel? Are you constantly in pain, tired but wired, hungry, etc.?
  • How is what you’re doing working for you? Are you getting results?

If you’re beating yourself up and not getting anywhere, maybe it’s time to take a different approach.

2. Trust your body — and listen to it.

What’s really going on under the hood?

Do a mind-body scan: Lie quietly for a few minutes and bring your focus slowly from your feet to your head. What do you feel?

Practice becoming more aware of your body cues.

What does your body feel like when it’s well-rested? How do you know when it needs a break?

If you’re feeling:

  • achey and creaky
  • run-down and blah
  • un-motivated
  • anxious or depressed
  • fatigued or annoyingly sleepless…

…consider changing up your workout routine.

3. Make time for recovery.

Recovery won’t happen by accident. Plan it, prepare for it and hunt it down.

Schedule that massage. Tell your friends to save the date for the citywide scavenger hunt. And block off Sunday afternoon for guilt-free goof-off time.

Whatever you do, remember that your recovery — what you do between workouts — is just as important as training.

Some ideas:

  • Go for a walk, preferably in a natural, outdoor setting. Put away your phone. Observe what’s around you.
  • Meditate. It’s easier than you might think.
  • Do yoga. Remember: it doesn’t have to be ‘hot yoga’ or ‘power yoga’ to count.
  • Go for a swim. Finish it off with a relaxing sauna.
  • Chill out in the park. Lie back on the grass and stare at the clouds.
  • Get a massage. Give the body a little help de-stressing.
  • Get it on. Yep, sex counts too. (Thanks, Precision Nutrition!)

4. Achieve the balance.

There’s time for tough workouts and time for taking it easy. There’s time for long runs, and there’s time for throwing a frisbee around.

Doing the same thing over and over again isn’t doing your body any good. Mix up your exercises, and the intensity.

If you’re not sure how much of each you’re getting, try keeping a workout journal for a week or two.

What could you use a little more of?

Where could you ease back?

Find some new ways to get active without being in the gym.

Incorporate some silly, goofy play time into your routine. See how it feels.

5. Have fun.

And there’s a reason why kids naturally run, jump, roll, and wiggle their bodies around: Fun is a huge part of how we learn to move and interact in the world. Continuing this process keeps us healthy and young.

Laughing activates the recovery system, as does even just smiling. Lighten up and loosen your white-knuckle grip on life, Sergeant Hardcore.

Here are some ideas for good old-fashioned fun:

  • Play a sport you love. Or discover a new one.
  • Actively play with your kids. Run around with them on the playground, swing from the monkey bars, climb trees, chase a frisbee, etc.
  • Dance. Have a night out with friends, or just goof off with the music cranked up in your living room.
  • Pay your pet some extra attention. Give your dog an extra run for his money at the dog park. Try some kitty yoga. (This is a thing. I’m not even kidding.)
  • Go for a hike or take a walk in the city. Explore a new neighborhood.

6. Get driving lessons.

The only message you’ve likely ever gotten about staying fit is: put the pedal to the metal. Now it turns out you’re actually in overdrive?

If you’re feeling frustrated or confused (or exhausted or stressed) — team up with someone.

Find an active friend, an interested spouse, a parent you want to spend more time with, or a local trainer/coach/sensei. Together, experiment with a fun, balanced approach to your physical activity.

Your “car” will thank you.

For full article by John Berardi please visit: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/are-you-overtraining

THE FUNCTION OF A RUNNING SHOE

The function of a running shoe is to protect the foot from the stress of running, while permitting you to achieve your maximum potential. Selecting the right shoe for your foot can be confusing without the proper knowledge.

People with low arches, called pronators, will need a shoe that provides stability. A shoe with good cushioning is important for people with high arches, called supinators.

There are three main features that you need to consider when selecting a running shoe: shape, construction, and midsole.

Shape

To determine the shape of the shoe, look at the sole. Draw a straight line from the middle of the heel to the top of the shoe. In a curve-shaped shoe, most comfortable for supinators, the line will pass through the outer half of the toes. A straight-shaped shoe will have a line that passes through the middle of the toes. These shoes are built to give pronators added stability.

Construction

Take out the insole and look at what type of stitching is used on the bottom. In board construction shoes, built specifically for pronators, the bottom of the shoe will not have any visible stitching. Combination shoes, appropriate for mild pronators or supinators, will have stitching that begins halfway. On slip-constructed shoes, you will see stitching running the entire length of the shoe providing the flexibility supinators need.

Midsole

Most of the cushioning and stability of a running shoe is determined by the midsole. A dual-density midsole provides shock absorption as well as some stability, perfect for pronators. Single density midsoles offer good cushioning but are not great at providing stability, making them better for supinators.

Keep in mind that a chiropractor can help you prevent running-related problems by assessing your gait, as well as the mobility of the joints in your feet, legs, pelvis and spine.

Chiropractic care for pain relief

Chiropractic is a health care system that holds that the structure of the body, particularly the spine, affects the function of every part of the body. Chiropractors try to correct the body’s alignment to relieve pain and improve function and to help the body heal itself.

While the mainstay of chiropractic is spinal manipulation, chiropractic care now includes a wide variety of other treatments, including manual or manipulative therapies, postural and exercise education, ergonomic training (how to walk, sit, and stand to limit back strain), nutritional consultation, and even ultrasound and laser therapies. In addition, chiropractors today often work in conjunction with primary care doctors, pain experts, and surgeons to treat patients with pain.

Most research on chiropractic has focused on spinal manipulation for back pain. Chiropractic treatment for many other problems—including other musculoskeletal pain, headaches, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia—has also been studied. A recent review concluded that chiropractic spinal manipulation may be helpful for back pain, migraine, neck pain, and whiplash.

There have been reports of serious complications, including stroke, following spinal manipulation of the neck, although this is very rare and some studies suggest this may not be directly caused by the treatment.

Spinal manipulation” is a generic term used for any kind of therapeutic movement of the spine, but used more precisely it is the application of quick but strong pressure on a joint between two vertebrae of the spine. That pressure twists or rotates the joint beyond its normal range of motion and causes a sharp cracking noise. That distinctive noise is believed to be caused by the breaking of a vacuum or the release of a bubble into the synovial fluid, the clear, thick fluid that lubricates the spinal and other joints. Spinal manipulation can be done either directly by pushing on the vertebrae or indirectly by twisting the neck or upper part of the body. It should be done to only one spinal joint at a time. Chiropractors and other practitioners accomplish this by positioning the body so the force they exert is focused on one joint while parts of the spine above and below it are held very still. Most spinal manipulation treatments take somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes and are scheduled two or three times a week initially. Look for improvements in your symptoms after a couple of weeks.

In addition, a chiropractor may advise you about changing your biomechanics and posture and suggest other treatments and techniques. The ultimate goal of chiropractic is to help relieve pain and help patients better manage their condition at home.

For full article please visit:  http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/chiropractic-care-for-pain-relief

IT DOES A BODY GOOD

Massage

New research finds that even a 10-minute massage soothes more than just the soul.

A dimly lit room. Calming, muted music. Sixty minutes of pure “me time” while stress melts away. There’s no question that a massage is the ultimate good-for-you indulgence; but according to a new study, attacking those knots may pay off even more than researchers initially thought.

The tension-relieving benefits of massage therapy are well-documented, but the new findings suggest that a mere 10-minute massage can also help reduce inflammation in muscles, an underlying factor in chronic diseases like arthritis. The research, which appeared in the journalScience Translational Medicine, showed that when muscles are stretched they receive a signal to build more mitochondria, which are vital for healing — making massages potentially helpful for injury recovery.

After assessing the fitness level of 11 men in their twenties, the study’s researchers at McManus University asked each participant to cycle to the point of exhaustion (more than 70 minutes). The subjects were then allowed to rest while a massage therapist performed a 10-minute massage on one leg. While the massage didn’t help clear lactic acid from the tired muscles — a widely spread exercise myth — noticeably reduced inflammation was observed in the massaged leg.

When muscles are stretched they receive a signal to build more mitochondria, which are vital for healing.

Why? “Anytime we stimulate the nerves we send messages to the brain about the area,” explains Equinox trainer and master therapist Susan Stanley, RKC, FMS, LMT, “the brain then responds in a variety of ways, including nervous and chemical.”

She adds that massage techniques have an effect on more than just muscle. “In fact,” says Stanley, “fascia, a layer of fibrous tissue that surrounds muscles, is probably the most affected tissue and it contains far more nervous tissue than muscle.”

The almost-immediate effects of massage found in the study don’t surprise Stanley. “The inflammation process begins at the moment of insult to the tissue, so the moment that tissue is given a different stimulus, the brain can change its response instantaneously, too,” she says. That said, she underscores that the study was conducted on a small, specialized group.

A typical relaxation massage triggers the parasympathetic nervous system — or relax response — in the body, which stimulates healing and immunity. Lymphatic Drainage massage, an example of very light work, is designed specifically to address inflammation and edema (potentially damaging fluid accumulation), and stimulate the lymph system, which is the body’s mechanism to rid the body of toxins and waste.

Soul-soothing properties aside, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the body-benefits of massage therapy are not to be taken lightly. Something to remember the next time you’re debating whether or not to hit the table.

For full article by Sharon Feiereisen please visit http://q.equinox.com/articles/2012/03/it-does-a-body-good?emmcid=emm-newsletter-1012&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email%20member&utm_campaign=1012&emmcid=EMM-1012QWeekly10122015

GET IN THE GAME WITHOUT THE PAIN

One key to success on the golf course can’t be found at the pro shop. It’s the physical condition of the golfer. Pain shouldn’t be par for the course. Stay in the game by protecting your back.

When you consider the spinal rotation that goes into a golf swing and the fact that the speed of the club can reach 160 km/hour, it’s easy to understand that golf puts significant stress on your body.

Follow these tips to improve your game and prevent the pain.

1. Warm up and warm down

Take a few minutes to stretch before and after your game. Start with a brisk walk — 10 to 15 minutes should do it. Then do some light stretching.

2. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your game. Remember that once you are thirsty, you are already starting to dehydrate.

3. Push, don’t carry, your golf bag

Pushing or pulling your bag and taking turns riding in a cart can help you prevent back injury. If you prefer to carry your clubs, use a double-strap bag that evenly distributes the weight. If your bag gets too heavy, put it down and take a break.

4. Choose the right shoes

Wearing a golf shoe with good support and the proper fit can help prevent knee, hip and lower back pain.

5. Take lessons

The right swing technique can do more than improve your game. It can also spare you unnecessary pain. Working with a professional is a great way to learn the basics.

To view full article, visit: http://www.chiropractic.on.ca/get-in-the-game-without-the-pain-your-back-health

ACL INJURIES – AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS PRICELESS!

Nearly a quarter of a million anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur each year in North America in athletes who participate in high demand sports such as soccer, football, and basketball.

A major injury prevention position statement released by the Canadian Academy of Sport & Exercise Medicine (CASEM) and published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine (CJSM) concludes that youth soccer players and their coaches can significantly decrease the incidence of ACL injuries by incorporating neuromuscular training (NMT) into their warm-up routines. NMT involves doing specific agility and strength training activities.  NMT should be incorporate into routine practices and warm ups and should begin, at the very latest, in the early teenage years.    “These warm up exercises, carried out correctly, will keep the athletes on the field instead of in our offices”, states Dr. Cathy Campbell, co-author of the new position statement and team doctor for the Canadian women’s soccer team.

CASEM recommends a Canada-wide approach and advocates that all Canadian youth soccer players should have NMT incorporated into their programs. The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), the governing body for soccer in Canada, endorses CASEM’s position statement and supports this injury prevention program aimed at protecting athlete’s health and allowing them to perform at the highest level.  Dr Robert McCormack, one of four orthopaedic surgeons authoring this position statement, is also the medical representative on the CSA Medical Committee and Chief Medical Officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee and he agrees that “there is an important need to address the epidemic of these serious injuries”.

FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, has adopted the FIFA 11+ program which mandates a complete warm-up programme to reduce injuries among male and female football players aged 14 years and older.  The use of this type of program has resulted in a 52-72% reduction in ACL injury in girls and an 85% reduction in boys.

Dr. James Carson, who is also a co-author of this position statement and a physician for the Seneca College Varsity Athletes program, sums it up by saying, “This is a bad injury which usually requires major surgery.  So it’s important for soccer coaches across Canada to help save kids’ knees.”

The CASEM is an organization of physicians committed to the excellence in the practice of medicine as it applies to all aspects of physical activity.

ACL TRAINING MANUAL – THE COMPLETE WARM-UP PROGRAM TO PREVENT INJURIES

ACL – Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine – Position Statement: Neuromuscular Training Programs Can Decrease Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Youth Soccer Players

The Foam Rolling You Should Be Doing (But Probably Aren’t)

It’s not just for your legs: These rolling patterns address trouble spots from head to toe.

By now, most educated exercisers have joined the foam rolling revolution. But while your IT bands may be intimately familiar with the tool’s hurts-so-good loosening powers, limiting your experience to the lower body minimizes the total-body benefits. To that end, Master Trainer Josh Stolz has designed this head-to-toe rolling regimen. “Each of these rolling patterns address the most problematic areas where personal trainers and coaches find movement dysfunction and pain,” he explains.

In the following images, Stolz demonstrates the better, smarter way to roll. “You should spend 30 seconds to a minute or more on each individual movement,” he explains. “If it’s a regeneration or recovery day, take even more time, between 2 and 3 minutes for each move.”

And there’s more to the technique than you might think—read on for Stolz’s five most critical rules of foam rolling.

(1) Hydrate Ahead of Time. Even though foam rolling helps hydrate your tissue, you should down between 10 and 20 ounces of water beforehand, which helps prep the muscles for the work you’re about to do. “In general, hydrated tissue is resilient and pliable while dehydrated tissue is glued-down and sticky, which creates adhesions and movement dysfunction,” says Stolz.

(2) Roll Before And After a Workout. Most of us wait until we wrap a session to hit the roller. Instead, Stolz suggests scrapping static stretching and using the tool for your pre-workout warm-up. As much as it’s a recovery tool, the foam roller is also a preparatory tool,” says Stolz. “Think of foam rolling as a way to ‘smooth’ or ‘iron out’ the connective tissue and muscle. Foam rolling actually increases circulation so the connective tissue and muscle are getting more oxygen and water than if you just stretched.”

(3) Slow Your Roll. Foam rolling can hurt, and you’re only human. But speeding through each movement is a wasted opportunity. “The biggest misuse I see is club members rolling extremely fast, most likely to avoid the discomfort of the roller,” says Stolz. Instead, you want slow, purposeful motions. “If we go back to the ironing example, a quick-moving iron will not apply enough heat and/or steam and the article of clothing will still remain wrinkled. The key is to focus on these painful areas because they need the most attention and desperately need oxygen, water, and nutrients.” (Note: Stolz may appear to be rolling quickly in the gifs, but that is an effect of the animation; his real-life movements are slow and concentrated.)

(4) Move In Multiple Directions. It’s not just up-and-down, up-and-down. “If you look at the angle of how the muscle and fascia attach, it’s not straight up and down—some fascial attachments run from front to back or in spirals,” says Stolz. “The key is to not only slow down the foam rolling, but also add side-to-side movements, cross-friction (rubbing the spot being rolled side to side on the roller) and flexing and extending the joint being rolled.”

(5) Make It A Daily Ritual. Even on days that you’re not in the gym, foam rolling should be part of your repertoire. “I try to use the foam roller daily as maintenance for my fascia,” says Stolz. “It’s kind of like flossing—you need to do it every day to make a difference even if it’s only for 5 minutes.” But deep cleaning is necessary, too. “I think an important fact to remember is that foam rolling doesn’t take the place of a great massage or body working session.”

Note the following movements for your pre/post workout foam rolling routine:

Target:  LATS

Position yourself on your right side, with your right leg flat, knee bent 90 degrees, your left foot flat on the floor. Place the center of a foam roller beneath your right arm pit, perpendicular to your body, and extend your right arm straight, resting your left hand on the foam roller. (Reach that right arm as far as possible to create more of a stretch.) From this position, roll from your armpit about four inches down towards your waist, and back again, for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides; repeat. 

 

Target:  SHOULDERS AND PECS

Lie face down, resting your left forearm on the floor, legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Place one end of a foam roller under your right shoulder, extending arm straight out at shoulder height, forming a T with the roller. (Again, reach that straight arm as far as possible to create more tension.) In short movements, roll from your shoulder to right pec and back again, for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides and repeat.

 

Target:  THORACIC SPINE (mid-upper back)

Lie faceup with feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. Center a foam roller beneath your mid-back or shoulder blades so that it is perpendicular to your body. (Note: You can move the foam roller up and down to target different areas of the thoracic spine while still doing the extension motion.) Extend arms out from shoulders at a 45-degree angle. Reach arms back behind you towards floor and back again for 30 seconds to a minute. Make sure that the lower back doesn’t extend—think about pushing the lumbar spine into the ground as you are reaching back.

 

Target:  CALVES

Sit with legs extended in front of you, and rest your lower right calf on the center of a foam roller that’s perpendicular to your body. With hands on the floor, press your triceps to lift your butt off the floor, and then place your left foot on top of your right calf. Roll up from your lower right calf to the meat of your calf and back for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch legs; repeat. (Note: Also target the inside and the outside of the calf simply by turning the foot in or turning the foot out.)

 

Target:  GLUTES AND PIRIFORMIS

With your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width, center a foam roller beneath your glutes. Lift your right leg and rest your right ankle on your left knee. Roll back and forth from the center of your right glute to the bottom of your spine for 30 seconds to a minute; switch legs and repeat.

 

Target:  HAMSTRINGS

Lower yourself onto the floor, extending your right leg out in front of you, and bend your left knee so that your lower leg is behind you. Place the end of a foam roller beneath your upper right hamstring, just below the glute, and place your hands on the foam roller on either side of your leg. Roll your upper hamstring just enough so that your foot flexes down, and roll it back again, for 30 seconds to a minute; switch sides and repeat.

 

Target:  QUADS

Get on the floor, resting on your forearms, and center a foam roller beneath your right quad, your right leg extended directly behind you. Roll from the bottom of your quad to the top, rotating from the outside of your quad to the inside, in one fluid circular motion. Roll for 30 seconds to a minute; switch legs and repeat.

 

Thanks to Equinox.com and Shelia Monaghan, November 4, 2013

THE Stretch for Those That Sit

THE Stretch for Those That Sit

Target all of your sitting muscles at once with this smart move.

Perform this stretch as a dynamic warm-up before your regular cardio and/or strength sessions. Or you can perform it as a cool-down, but rather than walking through the movement, make it static and hold the final position (with ankle over knee) for a minimum of 30 seconds. 

Follow these step-by-step instructions:

       
(1) Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides.  

   
(2) Keep your back tall, shoulders down and chest open as you push butt behind you and bend knees slightly, going into a mini squat. Lift left foot a few inches off floor (as shown).  

(3) Hinge forward from hips to grab left knee with left hand and ankle with right hand. Slowly stand back up, bringing knee up with you, pulling it toward midline of chest, until your spine is fully extended (as shown).                                

   
(4) Then do another mini squat, pushing hips behind you, and place left ankle over right knee, with left knee out to side (as shown). 

(5) Extend arms at shoulder level in front of you and go deeper into your squat, pushing hips back, hinging forward from hips and reaching arms diagonally toward floor (as shown). Stand up, lunge forward with left leg, and then repeat stretch on the right. Continue alternating sides for 12 to 16 reps total (6 to 8 each leg).

 

  • To get more of a lat stretch: Reach arms away from the hip you’re stretching (i.e., if right ankle is over left knee, reach arms to left and push hips to right).
  • To make it easier: Use a wall for balance and/or do not go quite as deep into each squat.
  • To make it more difficult: Slowly work your way into a deeper squat. Or when you bring knee into chest, go up onto your tiptoes, which will target your calves and better activate your core and other stabilizing muscles.
Thanks to Linsdey Emery at equinox.com and Master Trainer Josh Stoltz