All posts in “chronic pain”

rehab for muscle imbalances

Rehabilitating Imbalances is the Key to Fitness Over 40

 

Exercise for Those Over 40 – The Two Main Culprits

Muscle Imbalances and flexibility issues are the two of the main culprits standing in the way of people who want to get in shape over 40 years old.  As humans, work takes over our lives for long periods, and when we exit a period of years where we’ve neglected our bodies, that’s where problems commonly begin.  And it’s so easy to avoid!

Sitting in that chair, standing holding the arms out, or sitting in that vehicle – for years, compromises posture, biomechanics, mobility and strength.  This is why when we’re old, we share most all of the above conditions I’ve just listed.  Just turning 40 we’ve already feel this!  When we exercise with these conditions, we’re sure to get injured, and that’s entirely unnecessary if the proper precautions are taken when we start back up again.

 

When you start to exercise again and take charge of your life, there are important steps to take:

  1. You should have an assessment performed for your movement, mobility and posture.  I recommend an FMS screen, which is used in most professional sports.  With this system, you get assigned corrective work that will work out the kinks and inefficiencies in your body, and allow you to exercise pain free/without anti-inflammatory medication.
  2. Your body isn’t as balanced as it used to be, so you will need to work on balancing out your strengths and weaknesses from side to side, front to back and during rotation.  I recommend corrective exercise that it woven into the exercise session itself.
  3. You will need to incorporate a warmup and stretching routine that lets you exercise without causing hip/back/joint pain despite current imbalances.

Does that sound doable?  This is what my athletes do for their workouts, and it’s what I do.  Adding in these protocols,

As a Personal Trainer, I watch people trying to do things on their own, after 10-20 years of leaving their bodies dormant.  I see people start an exercise regimen, then stop in 3 days, 2 week, or 2 months.  None of this is necessary.  The truth is that with the proper education and learning, everybody can exercise and stay healthy – and you should not have to exercise and be in pain. But you will have to take the correct steps forward.

Are you ready to take those steps? Then contact us today

 

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

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

Dan Piper is one of the Bay Area’s Few Kettlebell Specialists, and an absolute geek on body alignment and muscle balance.  He has worked as a full time Personal Trainer and Strength Coach in Alameda for 5 years, and  caters to folks truly wanting to get healthy.  

 

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.”

The modern human shoulder, which when rolled forward all day, every day from desk work or just work period, cause the back to slump over (known as kyphosis). Kyphotic posture is what we get into closer to the end of our lives – they express old age, disfunction, immobility. Slumping earlier in life has implications to consider both now and later on down the line. When we’re leaned over a desk or anything else with our shoulders rolled forward for 10 hours per day, our shoulders tend to stay rolled forward all the time as they get frozen into this position.  Someone with shoulders that are rolled forward essentially has muscles and tendons that have been relengthened to accommodate this unhealthy posture, and it will take some work and determination by the individual working with a team of professionals (Physio/Chiro, Personal Trainer) to change this and to get back to correct posture. That being said, this is very doable, and the body is extremely elastic.  We can be put back into good posture the same exact way we got into bad posture – by changing the way we move, this time for the better. From kyphotic backs to lower back pain, to folks who have twisted shoulders or tweaked hips – these problems are 100% fixable in most cases – it’s a matter of whether or not one is willing to do the corrective work.

Kyphosis/rolled shoulders and slumped back, shifts our center of gravity forward in front of the spine increasing the load the spine must support, which increases its’ curvature. This places our upper spine in a position that it’s supporting muscular structure, the back and shoulder muscles, wasn’t designed to handle, and at great risk of herniating a disk or even worse. The upper back muscles along with the shoulder and neck muscles fatigue under the added stress, our body reacting to this fatigue and expressing it by slumping, or kyphotic posture. Even slight or partial kyphosis puts undue pressure on our heart, lungs and organs, sometimes referred to as “Total Peripherial Resistance”. Slumping over puts forward and downward pressure onto the rib cage, often pushing ribs out of alignment and stretching out the muscles in our upper back and at the rear of our shoulders and neck. Slumping over puts added downward pressure on every organ located inside of our chest cavity starting with the heart and lungs. It affects our breathing, the stroke volume of our heart (volume of  blood pumped per stroke), as well as our diastolic blood pressure and cardiac output.( 1) Imagine yourself constantly squeezing a Bagpipe bag against your gut, but instead, squeezing your very own organs.

                                “Don’t add strength to disfunction Grey Cook, World Renowned Physiotherapist

Not sure how good or bad your posture and movement is? With all of the time you (you who exercise) spend working on your bodies, you owe it to yourself to go through a ten minute movement screen administered by a professional.  A ten minute FMS screen, used widely in college and professional sports is what I recommend. This gives one a score for how well your body moves in each of its’ regions (shoulders, back, hips, spine etc.), and specific exercises to correct your issues. Armed with this knowledge, one can plan workouts with a focus on improved movement and postural correction. Once good function is back, strength goes back to the top of the priority list, but not until then.  Adding strength to disfunction will hurt you worse.  If you have a truck and the gears grind, you had better take care of that before installing a turbocharger or pay the hefty consequences. Your body’s the same. Besides avoiding injury and feeling your pain subside, once your machine is re-aligned and corrected, your goals become more easily reachable, be it strength, weight loss or athleticism. What I’m saying isn’t really that novel.  As with any machine that’s well oiled, aligned and it’s gears change smoothly and optimally, optimizing movement and posture leads to optimized performance.   

I’ll never forget about what a Physiotherapist said in an article I read years ago I wish I’d saved…..”Ten minutes with your arms overhead each day is what you need to improve shoulder health”. I like to work with many of my athletes with this approach…it’s simple and it works. In Kettlebell training, one simply does a lot of overhead work, more than with any other type of resistance training.  There are a number of ways in which doing overhead work improves posture. Between the Clean and Press, the Military Press, and the Waiters Walk, some of the most widely used exercises in the sport, ten minutes of overhead work is easily attained in an average session. Shoulder mechanics are improved dramatically by simply changing the tool.

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. Each of these exercises has it’s own corrective properties going up and down the kinetic chain.  Today we’ll cover the Military Press. When a single kettlebell is pressed overhead as in the Military Press, the glutes are squeezed to brace and strengthen the lower back, the knees are locked out, the entire body is braced and the chest is held down and not extended to encourage proper diaphragmatic breathing as well as proper core bracing. Athletes performing this lift must retrain the lats to activate and become a foundation for the prime movers/muscles pressing the load overhead. The kettlebell is brought from a slightly lower position than the barbell due to the difference in the way the triceps are positioned. The working arm is brought through it’s full range of motion in overhead extension, the elbow is locked out at the top as the kettlebell allows one to turn the arms freely to their arm’s specific and unique movement pattern. Neither side is permitted to transfer a strength discrepancy or imbalance from one side of the body to the other via a barbell. Rather, the body is forced to support and move the load with proper form regardless of existing muscular imbalances or synergistic dominance. At the top position the arm is locked out and the bicep should touch the head behind the ear. The bell is gripped in the hand and hangs behind the lifter, who is forced to create stability through the dynamic coordination of the back and shoulder muscles, buttocks, chest, neck, and entire kinetic chain. With each rep, the shoulder and upper back muscles are contracted with high intensity, further shortening the very muscles that have been lengthened/damaged more with each rep and with each workout. The pectoral muscles are both stretched and contracted at the same time with each rep which effectively lengthens them, allowing the shoulders to sit back behind the chest once again. When the previously shortened pectoralis minor is stretched, the shoulder blade where it attaches at the caracoid process, can relax from pulled forward position, finally letting the humerus (upper arm) sit back properly into the shoulder socket (glenoid fossa). This causes the shoulders to sink further back to their natural position with every rep. The entire body is braced, knees locked out and glutes are held firm as a rock. The main movement is with the shoulders, while proper full body tension and bracing are trained with each rep, stretching and retraining our human facia which connects every muscle in the human body.  

Shifting the imbalanced shoulder weight back over the spine again corrects one’s center of gravity and let’s the spine stand tall again. Retraining the spines’ supporting musculature will help make sure you stay this way (the step most “forget”). Many will have some corrective work to do before performing this lift effectively and properly, as many of us have been robbed of the ability to extend arms overhead straight without hyperextending the lumbar and thoracic spine to avoid shoulder pain. This exercise, when trained correctly and with proper mobility work will bring this ability back. The strength and athletic gains one receives from correcting spinal posture will be very apparent and long term.  

Reference:

(1) Frey MA1, Tomaselli CM, Hoffler WG. Cardiovascular responses to postural changes: differences with age for women and men. Biomedical Operations and Research Office, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. 1994 May;34(5):394-402.

By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS

Rehab and Sports Medicine at Dan’s Kettlebell & Barbell Club, Alameda, California

Dan Piper grew up in San Diego, CA playing every sport imaginable including Surfing and Soccer, and loves climbing very high mountains in other countries.  As a Coach, his primary focus is on bringing high quality Corrective and Strength work to the masses.  Based on Alameda Island near Oakland, Dan’s Kettlebell Club is like nothing else offered in the Bay Area, fusing FMS with workouts he sometimes borrows from his fellow RKCs, Olympic Coach Dan John, and Taylor Lewis, CK-FMS.  He can be reached by emailing him at dan@workout4results.com .  

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…