All posts in “alignment”

rehab exercise posture

Using Kettlebells to Rehabilitate and Correct Posture

How Can Exercising With Kettlebells Correct Your Posture?

Our posture is an expression of every human movement we make. What we decide to lift and how we decide to lift it affects posture dramatically.  Lots is written on how to fix our posture once we’re hurt – it’s a big industry.  But this article will deal with how to avoid getting into poor posture in the first place. Many start exercising kind of believing that it will improve posture, which is true. But many are only worsening their already poor posture by refusing to ever change their protocols or not knowing enough about their routine as it interacts with their unique posture and biomechanics. As Coaches we see this more commonly than most anything else. Kettlebells…those things that everyone walks past in the gym as many don’t know how to use them, naturally force your body into good posture. We should just call them “Posture Bells”. It’s practically impossible for one  to exercise correctly with Kettlebells and not improve posture.  

“These principal Russian Kettlebell exercises, the Getup, Goblet Squat, and the Military Press among others incorporate dynamic stretching within the exercise itself, allowing one to perform corrective work and mobility training within the strength training routine, without changing the tool.”

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rehab for muscle imbalances

Rehab of Muscle Imbalances Is Easy

Exercising to Fix Muscle Imbalances

Why do I say that….that “Fixing Muscle Imbalances is Easy?”  I say this because, if you start with the approach I recommend below, you will feel better THIS WEEK.  And that is easier than what you are currently doing….which is dealing with lots of pain.  See my approach below – life’s going to get much better for you.  

Muscle imbalances are the root of most muscle and joint pain, and may easily be corrected without surgery.  As we extend our lifespans through modern medicine and health awareness, our musculoskeletal system gets used and beat up for many more years nowadays, much more than it used to.

Pretend that you have muscles in your spine (below) that are tighter on one side than on the other.  The cause could be one leg that’s shorter, something MOST of us have, perhaps you previously played contact sports, or simply payed little attention to good posture, immersing that’s more and more common today.  The effect will ultimately be back and joint trouble if this isn’t dealt with by someone who works with postural alignment, is certified in FMS, or has physiotherapy experience.  I deal with this every day in my practice – easy to fix, but not easy if ignored.

low back pain weak muscle

Do we have any Tennis, golf, bowling, baseball, or basketball players here? If you have ever played or play a sport (past or present) where one side of your body is favored, you probably have muscle imbalances that cause you pain. Even if you haven’t played any of the above sports, most of us were born with one leg longer than the other, which sooner or later lends to back, his and knee pain, as the muscles that are shorter on one side of your body, keep you out of alignment, acting on your skeleton over time into further misalignment. Most of us have one leg that’s longer to some degree and it’s easily detected with an FMS screen.  Whether it’s back, neck, shoulder, hip/sciatica, knee or hip pain, the root cause is usually these muscle imbalances.

Fixing muscle imbalances is easy. The problem we have in our fat and lazy culture is laziness and excuses. Finger pointing is also a good one that’s sure to keep you in pain – “It’s the doctor’s fault, my gym is smelly, I don’t have time etc.” I’m not speaking right now to those who have these excuses – I have plenty of willing athletes/clients who have gotten out of pain, and none of them were the crying, complaining type, but rather, the type who have taken healthy action in their lives.

Where to start with an exercise programme?

To do this you must take a new approach to exercise until you’re better. Here’s the system I recommend. I encourage each one of you to approach this in your own unique way – but these are excellent guidelines and where you should start.

  1. Get a correct diagnosis of your musculoskeletal pain from a Doctor,Physiotherapist,A Respected Chiropractor,or an FMS certified Personal Trainer or Chiropractor.
  2. Build a team to help you. You will need a gifted and respected Chiropractor to adjust your skeletal misalignments, but will need to do the muscle re-lengthening work on your own or with a Personal Trainer (and a good Massage Therapist – more on this below),  so that your skeleton does not get pulled out of alignment over and over again. Find someone who is willing to work with you who is qualified. As an FMS Certified Personal Trainer, I spend much of a 55 minute session with folks correcting these muscle imbalances, incorporating stretching and exercise techniques, some of which are outlined in my previous blogpost Muscle Imbalance Exercises.  This is not something that can be fixed in the Chiropractors office, nor the Doctors office, or even the Physiotherapists. BUT, you will need all of the above to diagnose you and re-allign you from time to time.  Re-lengthening the muscles as outlined in the above link, takes months and months to fix, although relief starts happening immediately, the pain subsiding dramatically.  Believe me, when pressure is taken off of the joints through the proper exercises and protocols, the relief is immediate and people get almost euphoric when pain starts to leave their body.  Let’s look at the below diagrams for one minute…..

rehabilitation training

If it’s YOUR body in the above diagrams, and if it’s the left side that has one short leg (left being the left side as you look at the diagram), this will cause your hips to sag down on the left side.  All of the muscles in the above chart will become shorter, and many more, including the Psoas, Adductors,your IT Band,Illiacus etc. This muscle shortness will cause the phenomenon illustrated in the diagram shown above, effectively holding your hips out of position, causing misalignment and slippage of the Sarcoiliac/Iliosacral joint, the knee, the shoulder, the ankle, rib cage and most importantly,the spine including subluxations which, even after your Chiro treats them, will pop right back out due to these imbalances until they are finally addressed the proper way. Tightness in one side of the hip is also the leading cause of sciatica. These must ALL be re-lengthened (go to the the link above to my previous article to see the process),and this is all done during your exercise routine. It takes a few minutes extra, but you can get this done done in the gym or on a nice patch of grass with a scenic view at least,and not with an expensive Physio, and not in a hospital. Now look at the diagram above on the left. If your left leg is shorter, causing the hip to sag downwards on the left, then the muscles above your hip, up your back and all the way to your neck, will possibly need to be lengthened due to becoming shorter and tighter. The muscles below the hip will also need to be lengthened for the same reasons.

3. So,after you visit my blogpost, Muscle Imbalance, where I outline precisely this process,your next step is to work with a Massage Therapist. The Massage therapist will help re-shape and re-align your body, getting your muscles loose, bringing blood to them that is currently being constricted by poor muscle quality, tightness, knots and adhesions. Skip the massage,and this will take much much longer.

4. Understand that having a team is crucial, as none of the above professionals alone can fix you.

In short:

The Doctor diagnosis you.

The Chiropractor adjusts your skeleton

The Personal Trainer prescribes exercises and stretches, coaches on form and function – so more long term work.

The Massage Therapist, who is licensed to work on you with their hands, brings blood to the muscles, reshapes them, realigns them, and makes your body loose, and malleable.

(None of the above can, nor has the capacity to do all three jobs, yet all three are very necessary, when re-lengthening large muscle groups, and effectively changing the way you walk on this earth, and through this good life.)

As a side note, and possibly more on this for another blog post – here are a few things that CAN and WILL cause muscle imbalances:

Pretty much anything you do in life, that you do unconsciously, including –

Sitting with bad posture

Being Negative

Always sleeping on the same side

Eating poorly

Drinking too much (these above two are documented over and over again, and are shown to directly affect posture, and hence muscle imbalances.

Working out with improper form

Sitting too much without breaks

Inadequate exercise in your daily routine

Improper exercise protocols (too much pushing, not enough pulling), too much emphasis on hypertrophy, not enough full body movements such as deadlifts and sumo squats, which are recommended by the worlds top Olympic Coaches, as well as Physiotherapists and Doctors

Playing sports like golf, tennis etc, where the demand is placed primarily on one side of the body – this is sure to land you at the Chiro!

(In February of this year, I met a highly successful Chiropractor in San Jose del Cabo, while enjoying a beer and some mandolin at my favorite Tapas bar by the ocean.  He was extremely well connected, having lived there and thrived for the last 20 years. He said that his approach is simple – he tells the golfers that they need to stop golfing for 9 months in order to be fixed.  100% of them tell him to go to hell.  Then they come back and get fixed when they’re finally done golfing with pain, when they’re ready to they can live and feel well again, and play their best!)

 

By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS  Workout4Results.com

Rehabilitation at Dan’s Barbell and Kettlebell Club, Alameda, CA

sports exercise rehab back muscles

Lower Back Pain Rehab and Alignment – Time to Feel Good Again

Exercise and Rehab for Lower Back Pain

Time To Feel Good Again!

Rehabilitation athletes are folks who have been in automobile accidents, have had sports injuries, or are on the mend from one incident/condition or another.   I wrote this article because unless whoever you are seeing to fix you has you moving in exercises patterns or is watching you as you loaded and moving in a pattern, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for them to recognize and fix you.   Fixing muscle/fascia and bodily imbalances may take more than just a few 15 minute visits with a physio, and small stack of exercises stapled together on 8.5/11″ paper.  It’s a process that takes a different approach to exercising (just don’t stop).  

If you would truly like to learn something, take a look at the above picture with me for a moment.  Imagine  that it’s YOUR body in the diagram, and that the muscles and fascia on the right side of your back are 1/16 of an inch shorter than those on your left side, producing stronger, uneven contractions as a result, pulling you out of alignment and actually altering the once straight and aligned skeleton that you once had.  No matter who you just went to see to get adjusted, massaged, etc, you will definitely come right back out of alignment again until you fix these muscle imbalances.  If you look at the diagram, you can see that there is plenty of muscle and  fascia in your back…enough to pull you sideways and right out of alignment again, with all of the accompanying pain.  If you were to have your spine adjusted, ribs, hips etc, do you think that the adjustment would hold itself in place after you pick up a heavy box, or barbell, asking your back musculature to contract with unequal forces?   Answer: No…that’s why you keep visiting the Chiro.  You will need to see a qualified Physiotherapist, Athletic Trainer, or FMS specialist to work with you over a period of time to re-lengthen these muscles, as this is something that cannot be done in a handful of sessions.  Here are the basics of what you need to do, if you have pain in your posterior chain (back, hips, glutes, shoulders etc).

  1. Be seen by qualified Personal Trainer, Sports Doctor or FMS certified specialist.  Many folks may also perform self chiropractic, outlined HERE.  
  2. Spend the appropriate time to re-lengthen the muscles. You can still lift during this time, but it will take a new approach that you will learn with professional guidance.
  3. Perform these re-lengthening exercises before, during AND after your workout.  Each time you workout, your muscles will want to continue with their current shape and dysfunction, unless you incorporate the following types of stretches into your routine:                                            

Re-lengthening exercises for back/hips/thorax misalignment:

Psoas Stretch                Dr. Eckberg VIDEO

Bretzel Stretch 2.0      Dr. Gray Cook VIDEO (go to 6:15 for 2.0)

Lacrosse Ball Rolling   (roll the side of your back that’s tight, more than the loose side on a 3:1 ratio)                                                                     Dr. Kelly Starrett VIDEO

4. Perform kettlebell or barbell deadlifts, sumo squats, or deadlifts with 2 kettlebells.  Use the lacrosse ball technique, the Bretzel stretch and the Psoas stretch before, and after each and every set, as your soft tissue will attempt to tighten up and shorten again immediately after the set.  After a quick and correctly applied roll, you will be straight again, or straighter at least,  taking you out of harm’s way, and reducing the chance of spinal subluxation/hip shifting during your next set.  In this manner, you will steadily progress  in balancing out your body’s web of muscle and fascia, and work your way back to health.  Most folks start feeling improvement immediately, once the proper rehabilitation exercise protocols are applied.

So don’t be afraid to confront the pain in your body directly.  Getting pain out of your body will change many aspects of your life, for the better.

By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS,  Workout4Results.com

Rehabilitation at Dan’s Barbell and Kettlebell Club, Alameda, CA

Kettlebells to rehabilitate back pain

Rehabilitate Back Pain with Kettlebells

Kettlebell Exercises Can Provide Therapy For Back and Neck Pain

Although many people with backaches and other pains shy away from weight lifting for fear of hurting themselves, studies show that strength training can reduce pain, and prevent reinjury. While most research has used traditional weight training exercises, researchers in Denmark set out to study whether a kettlebell workout offered therapeutic benefits to back pain sufferers.

The weights, named for their resemblance to a tea kettle with a looped handle, began showing up in American gyms about 15 years ago and have gained a popular following among exercise buffs looking for a quick full-body workout. Unlike traditional weight training, which typically focuses on lifting exercises, a kettlebell workout requires both swinging and lifting of the weights, which for beginners can be awkward and difficult to control.

In a study published last year, the Danish researchers recruited 40 pharmaceutical workers, mostly middle-aged women with back, shoulder and neck pain, who were randomly assigned to either a regular kettlebell workout or a control group that was simply encouraged to exercise. The first group trained with kettlebells in 20-minute sessions two to three times a week for eight weeks, according to the report, published in The Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.

At the end of the study, the kettlebell exercisers reported less pain as well as improved strength in the trunk and core muscles, compared with the control group. Over all, working out with kettlebells reduced lower back pain by 57 percent and cut neck and shoulder pain by 46 percent.

The study’s senior author, Lars L. Andersen, a government researcher in Denmark, noted that workers who spend much of the day sitting are particularly vulnerable to back, shoulder and neck pain because they develop tightness and weak spots along the posterior muscle chain, which includes the muscles running from the lower back down to the glutes, hamstrings and calves. Kettlebell workouts strengthen the posterior muscle chain, and the increased blood flow to the back and leg muscles also may lessen pain by reducing the buildup of lactic acid, the authors wrote.

While isolation exercises like curls and presses have their benefits, kettlebell movements recruit multiple muscles and teach the body “to move as one unit,” said J.J. Blea, a certified kettlebell instructor and an owner of Firebellz in Albuquerque, one of the top kettlebell gyms in the country.

Because kettlebells can be difficult to control, it’s important to learn proper form from a certified instructor or a kettlebell class at a gym. The cornerstone of the kettlebell workout requires the exerciser to swing the kettlebell between the legs. In the Danish study, women started with a 17.5-pound kettlebell and men with a 26.5-pound kettlebell.

“When you’re doing a swing, you squeeze your quads, you squeeze your glutes, and you squeeze your abs,” said Mr. Blea. “By squeezing these muscles, you protect your back. It creates power, and it increases strength.”

Kettlebell training is also surprisingly aerobic. A study by the American Council on Exercise found that a 20-minute kettlebell workout burns about 21 calories per minute, the equivalent of running at a six-minute-mile pace.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/turning-to-kettlebells-to-ease-back-pain/?_r=0

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FMS Certified

How to Exercise Using the Functional Movement System (FMS)

FMS, the Functional Movement Screen and Certification, was originated by Gray Cook, one of the world’s foremost Physiotherapists.

gray cook kettlebells rehab functional movement FMS

Gray Cook MSPT, CSCS, OCS, RKC Kettlebell Instructor

Ouch!  Which exercises hurt, and cause us to forego them?  For many it’s the deadlift, or some version of the squat or lunge.  For others, it’s the the walkout.  Many hate doing the kettlebell get-up, due to poor hip movement patterns and limitations.  Guess what – there are exercises that I have serious hangups with also —-most trainers and athletes do. Continue Reading…