Think of me as a "Change Agent."
Last week I attended the IDEA conference in Anaheim, California. This fitness and nutrition expo drew 25,000 fitness professionals. In this world of information it’s very confusing to know what to believe. The overwhelming amount of information available to us on exercise and nutrition is difficult to decipher – even for fitness professionals! Obtaining the most up to date knowledge by continual learning is one of my core values. If my sharing improves your life in any way then my mission is accomplished! Think of me as “A Change Agent!”
I presented “Does Your Core Training Align With Your Neck” and shared the it’s time! Fitness Results core training program. Back and neck pain is a 216 billion dollar problem worldwide. We need to share the core training love and keep changing the way train, age, and live. I was honoured to be a part of this awesome conference.
While I was there I took advantage of the opportunity to attend some top-notch sessions.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from the sessions I attended in random order:
#1 Body Health = Mental Health
The body tells the brain more than the brain tells the body. When you feel your body telling you something (For example: butterflies, gurgles, pain) ask yourself, “What is my body trying to tell me?” 80% of the messages go from the body to the brain, and 20% from the brain to the body.
#2 Older Adults Are Getting Fitter and Feeling Ageless.
Don’t ask me to define “older” exactly, but research shows that we don’t dress, act, move, look, or feel like our parents did when they turned 50. Drop “growing old” and keep “growing up” I say!
#3 The Knee is the Most Dumb*** Joint in the Body
They spend their life talking to the hip and the ankle and still don’t have much to say for themselves! Our system learns from previous stress and experiences that accumulate to a lot of restrictions. Movement and soft tissue work is the body’s plumber! Get out the myo-fascial release tools today.
#4 Men and Women Both Need Improved Pelvic Floor Health
This historically taboo subject was addressed in a session where I built a pelvic floor with play dough and from the pubic bones to the hip sockets in real time. If breathing and specific pelvic exercises were integrated into fitness, both sexes would benefit with less impotence, incontinence, and painful sex.
#5 The Amygdala is the Boss of Your STRESS System
Two sessions and a 15-minute conversation (lucky me!) while waiting in a lineup beside Dr. Julia Degangi have me feeling very optimistic. The neuropsychologist, a leading expert in brain health, shares where science meets the spiritual and what we can and should do about our STRESS levels. Stress is a steroid for the emotional brain and the cortisol is neurotoxic. The advances and research in exercise (largely on aerobic) show that exercise is neuro-protective and acts like a fertilizer to the thinking brain.
Habits make up 45 % of our day and in my role as a change agent of health I shall continue to establish ways to help us all improve them in order to improve our quality and quantities of life. Degangi states that our brains focus too much attention on our problems and too little attention to the solutions. Our brains can habitually predict the same outcomes for us over and over. Unfortunately, our attention span has decreased by 30% since the year 2000. Largely due to the mobile revolution, we now have the attention span of less than that of a goldfish – only 8 seconds (goldfish has 9 seconds). Making the connection between our thinking patterns and what she calls the “Paradox of Progress” was the suggested start to achieving goals you feel have not been achieved with the methods you have previously attempted. More to come on this fascinating topic!
As I said, I attended some top-notch sessions. Three inspiring people delivered keynote presentations:
First, the incredible story of Victoria Arlen who spent 10 years unresponsive in a wheelchair suffering from two rare autoimmune disorders. She went on to win several medals in the para-Olympic games and walked out on stage with beauty and grace. She tells us to change anything “Impossible” to “I’m possible.” Believing that movement creates miracles, her advice is to always “show up” and enjoy the view along your journey.
Then the 93 year old widow of Jack Lalane, known as the “Godfather of Fitness” popped out of her seat, up the stairs to the podium and promptly impressed us with her wit and genuine elation to still be on the upside of the grass. Elaine Lalanne presented an award in her late husbands memory to a real life fitness industry hero Jay Blahnik. Jay is currently the Director Of Fitness for health technologies at Apple.
Lastly, “Functional Life Coach” Mastin Kipp dynamically projected himself on stage in front of the boldest presentation slides I have ever seen. “Living Your Purpose” is embodying the expressions, emotions, behaviours and lifestyle that light you up. How you express that purpose continually changes and evolves as we age.
Kipp reveals the many ways that we continually get in our own way of living our purpose. He states that our unhealed, unresolved, and unidentified traumas chronically disrupt us. The symptoms he lists under the emotional trauma tag line run include anxiety, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, self doubt, anger, and bullying. His examples of low and high level coping mechanisms surprised me. Things like gossip, alcohol abuse, soul-sucking jobs and high fructose corm syrup are in the low level category. Personal growth without trauma work leads to high level coping skills some of which include strict exercise, dieting and yoga. Gluten, sugar, dairy, meat, soy, GMO and taste free food all make the list as well.
Finding emotional awareness, intelligence, and fitness was the message given to turn you on to your purpose path. Feeling safe and exploring modalities that pair the mind (cognitive) and body (somatic) were the strategies given to move from survival to growth mode.
Mastin’s Fear Maxim: Unless you are in mortal danger, use fear as a compass. Living your purpose is the greatest gift you can give those you love. Purpose is the immune system of your emotional health.
Inform, Instruct, Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results
Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright July 2019
Session notes and slides from IDEA Conference 2019 Anaheim, California
The Pros: Golfers Live Longer than Non Golfers
The clubs are out and it’s time! to visit the greens for you folks that love everything golf. The passion surrounding this game on every level is great to see. Whether you’re a seasoned player, a beginner, or a pro this advice is going to help your game. And if you like to watch golf rather than play it I suggest this still applies to you. Movement improvement is needed in everyone’s life. Golf spectating offers an opportunity to walk around the course rather than being restricted to watching the action from your seat.
I say there’s an athlete in us all at any age ready to come out swinging!
There are also some well researched mental health and wellness benefits to playing the game that include increased self worth and social benefits. Improved balance and muscular function is seen by playing regularly, and cardiovascular benefits abound especially if you don’t use the golf cart.
The health benefits and exercise are powerful motivators to play or take up golf at any age. The sport is played by 55 million people in 206 countries globally. Most see and feel golf as a stress buster but conversely anxiety has been reported by golfers as it relates to poor performance.
Before going to far into the reasons you might have a golf game above par and a sore back from playing the game you love let’s start with a proven fact:
Golfers Live Longer than Non Golfers
But there are Cons…
TPI is the world’s leading educational organization dedicated to the study of how the human body functions in relation to the golf swing. Excessive roundness of the upper back or excessive arch in the low back are posture positions identified by the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) that can negatively influence your game and your back health.
Although golf provides health and fitness benefits, the sport also appears to have certain injury risks that may significantly affect a players enjoyment of the game, and even prohibit some from playing as they age.
The statistics on golf injuries are high and it’s considered to be a moderate risk activity compared to other sports. The volume of repetitive practice, sub-optimal swing mechanics, lack of warm-up, and poor general health and movement are all factors. Addressing one or all of these with some professional help will go a long way to decreasing injury risk and improving your score.
There is a higher incidence of skin cancer with golfers. As one who has battled a lot of skin cancer personally I strongly encourage you to wear sunscreen and a hat while enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.
Head and eye injury stats are certainly less frequent but can be severe. Lightning strikes causing death and golf cart related injuries (15,000 last year from the US National Safety Council) although not technically related to golf suggest to me that some weather checks and safety instruction should be implemented. Those that carry their golf bag on a regular basis have significantly more injuries to the low back, shoulder, and ankle. The word “caddy” comes to mind.
From The Fitness Professional
In their study Golf-Related Low Back Pain: A Review of Causative Factors and Prevention Strategies, authors Linsday and Vandervoot suggest despite its popularity low back pain affects golfers of all ages and skill levels. Many body parts are involved in the swing and if it’s not executed properly the velocity, range of motion, and complexity can make your spine talk back to you.
One sided issues…a movement geek’s candy store!
Golf is one sport that requires asymmetric trunk movement.
Repetitive mechanical load applied to a body part may lead to hypertrophy of its muscles. If a movement requires asymmetric activation of bilateral muscles, this may result in differences in muscle size between the sides
Researchers (Yoka Izumoto,Toshiyuki Kurihara, Tadashi Suga,Tadao Isaka) looked at the Bilateral differences in the trunk muscle volume of skilled golfers. The results of this study demonstrate that skilled long-term golfers develop large volumes and bilateral asymmetry of their trunk muscles. The Lateral Abdominals and Psoas Major on the non-dominant side and the Rectus Abdominis on the dominant side are required to swing the club. Many recreational golfers develop a version of this states Dr. David Olson of Edgemont Chiropractic because “their fitness level is under the capacity of their golf volume of play.” In other words, they are not fit enough to play without injuring themselves repeatedly.
Range of motion (mobility) and strength is where I feel training can have the most influence. Your swing mechanics are one thing the golf professional is an expert on but your body mechanics are where I can make some magic.
The causes of low back pain from golf to date have been mostly focused around the back, but poor hip mobility and strength (both front and back) can play a role as well. The rotation has to come from somewhere. The hips are supposed to be mobile and the lower back relatively stable (Joint by Joint approach/ Mike Boyle’s theory) If the hips don’t move the rotation comes from the low back. Over time this equals injury.
I find it interesting that the technical terms golf professional use to describe swing flaws have a lot anatomy and posture in them. TPI’s website has a wonderful video section that describes the flaws and so of your golf coach has mentioned that you have S posture or early extension for example go to their website and check out what it is exactly!
Check out the C- Posture and S Posture videos here but you may also have heard your golf coach say that you have: Casting, Loss Of Posture, Flat shoulder Plane, Early Extension, Flying Elbow, Over The Top, Sway, Late Buckle, Forward Lunge, Scooping and the funny one Chicken Winging!
All of the common swing flaws include common physical flaws such as these:
Limited hip mobility (both internal and external rotation),
Lack of hip strength
Reduced trunk and shoulder mobility.
Poor Core Strength
Mobility and Stability
Wrist, neck and ankle mobility issues.
Recovery, Rest, and Fuelling for Performance. (Nutrition)
So in your effort to improve your game you must improve your fitness, work on your physical flaws and address your weakest links. So here’s the deal, “Train and work out to improve your game.”
I believe if your golf workout looks really “golfish” you are doing the wrong things. Reinforcing the movement, and one sided hypertrophy as mentioned above with loaded medicine ball throws for example will not achieve the consistency and accuracy you desire.
Consistency comes with removing or improving the physical limitations that limit your ability to improve your swing flaws.
Your physical limitations are in turn the underlying root of your swing flaws. Ideally, we are looking for a balance in your movement patterns as well as solid competency in their execution, and often that is not what we see when completing movement assessments. Movements such as hinge, squat, push, pull, crawl, carry and brace will provide a strong training foundation from which to develop sequential kinetic chain linking. It has been reported that the core is not a power generator, as power is generated in the hips and transmitted through a stable core. This makes me want to train my hips more!
So think of training as human specific and goal related rather than golf specific. Call it what you will, the end result is something that shows in the score, game after game improving your handicap.
After two hip replacements, George has done the work and has a great swing!
From The Golf Professional
I reached out to Ben McKendrick a PGA of Canada Member & Associate Professional at Capilano Golf & Country Club. McKendrick thinks the golfers on tour aren’t given enough credit for their physical capabilities. In his opinion they have the highest level of movement and explosive power than any other sport.
Ok I admit that the first nugget is for me:
“All golfers regardless of age and golfing ability would benefit from improved fitness & mobility. Swinging the golf club with power and control comes from a body that moves properly.”
On Power he says:
“More power – is often the number one thing people ask for but they don’t train their body to move fast and efficiently. So to hit the ball further the club needs to travel faster so to make the club travel faster it’s down to the golfer to create that speed. Speed unfortunately won’t come from just the arms. To create additional swing speed is a combination of arms and body working in synchronization. To achieve this we need a correct turn of the hips and shoulders in backswing with the arms and clubface complementing that turn.
The downswing is then a reaction to the backswing, hopefully with the use of vertical, horizontal and rotational forces. And I say hopefully because if we haven’t created the torque and width in the backswing there won’t be high levels of stored power ready to explode at impact.”
On Controlling the Clubface:
We want a swing that keeps the club face “under control” throughout the golf swing. Most golfers I see have excessive forearm roll at the start of their swing. This will typically open the clubface and create a chain reaction of compensations throughout the entire swing, causing inconsistencies in their outcome.
All elite level ball strikers have the ability to control the clubface in a repeatable manner through impact which makes their outcome very predictable. This is something the average golfer can’t do. This is likely to be a combination of poor technique / swing mechanics and / or physical limitations.
Controlling the clubface isn’t always easy to do; this takes a conscious effort of correct wrist, arm and shoulder moves not to mention freedom in the hips and back. Any time a golfer has a limited range of motion in a certain area, they will have no other option than to make compensations to overcome their issue.
When we watch PGA tour golfers we see that there are lots of different ways to get the job done but they all have very similar motions at impact (open hips and shoulders, side bend and external rotation of their trail shoulder). Sounds easy right? If only!!!!
Make golf a way of life and more than a sport and you’re sure to live long and happy!
Inform, Instruct, Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results
Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright June 2019
The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review
How healthy is your golf game? Calgary Herald Jill Barker May 27, 2019
Ben McKendrick – PGA of Canada Member & Associate Professional at Capilano Golf & Country Club
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org 604 925 4653
Golf Related Low Back Pain:A Review of Causative Factors and Prevention Strategies
Bilateral differences in the trunk muscle volume of skilled golfers Yoka Izumoto1 , Toshiyuki KuriharaID2 *, Tadashi Suga3 , Tadao Isaka3
Thanks to Dr. David Olson of Edgemont Chiropractic Clinic for digging up some great research for me on golf. I call you Dr. Awesome for a reason!
Image : Copyright: <a href=”https://www.123rf.com/profile_Krisdog”>Krisdog / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
(3) Adapted for Cann et al Asian Journal of Sports Medicine 2014;5 (4):e24289
You might want to consider changing it up!
My work involves a lot of planning to get results. In fact, my business name has “Fitness Results” in it, so there’s always an expectation that we will achieve them or we will have to change the name. So how do we get “results” and why do I find this such an interesting topic?
As much as I have learned through education, trial and error, and evidence based practice I have to admit that I was just recently challenged to think differently about planning to achieve fitness training results. This change has prompted me to think about how I could apply this to pretty much everything to achieve improved results.
The Power of Habit
Often what you do is because of habit. For example, you always do something a certain way or you eat the wrong things when you are emotionally stressed. If you haven’t thought about the power of habit before I encourage you to examine yours as a way to change and improve your health and well-being.
Whether you are planning a gym training program, your nutrition, or want to improve your mental game let’s explore your plan (and habits) and consider some new options.
First I ask, “Is what you’re currently doing working for you?”
Having a plan that is working is a great thing! There are so many “motivational” quotes about planning that I’ve heard or read. These will only work for you if you like being reminded that you don’t have a plan. Possibly a good place to start.
I found on the web: (-1)
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States
“A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” ― Confucius, Chinese philosopher
Backing it up a little here I’ll say it’s easy to have a plan for a specific goal if you take the time to make them. In my experience many people set themselves up for failure by making their goals unrealistic or unachievable right from the start. This is where traditional goal planning can be problematic if the goals are outcome based and not behaviour or habit based. Ex. I want to lose 35 pounds by September is an outcome based goal. ….Drinking less liquid calories and going for a walk 5 x week are behaviour and habit based goals.
Gym Training Plans
Traditionally, exercise science has supported a linear and/or undulating progression of growth: start slow and build to strength in your training plan. This science has typically coupled volume and intensity in an inverse relationship, progressing in a fashion where as volume increases, load decreases; or as load increases, volume decreases.
A few weeks ago I attended a Strongfirst PlanStrong™ course, and all this science was turned upside down. The system is for building muscle (hypertrophy) strength, was adapted from the Soviet weightlifting methodology and produced records that still stand. Strength can be achieved without gaining mass which is important for some athletes, as in biking and martial arts. The research supports variety. Our muscles and tissues respond well to changing stimuli, but they like random variety at a fluctuation rate of 20%. Volume and load have been uncoupled. As a strength coach, this blew my mind!
“In Science and Engineering the solution that meets all the set requirements at a minimal “cost” is optimal.” (Vorobyev, 1981) (- 1) So this is often a lot less than you might be currently doing. Any injuries from training? Do you lose proper form, posture, and breath mechanics while training?
Taking the time to apply PlanStrong ™ has been a challenge for me. The details to which each exercise is planned can be incredibly time consuming for the trainer. As a general guideline we can look at the major lifts like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulls to ensure that we can program with confidence in the sweet spot of the right dosage, applied at the right time.
I learned the importance of tracking the tonnage and number of lifts (NL) per month and admit that even with logging my training for years I had not paid so much attention to the weekly and monthly volume.
Note to self: Start tracking training volume immediately!
The monthly volumes are distributed by choosing a variant from a table of 16 combinations. The mathematical side of this is quite complex and time consuming compared to what we are used to when programming. The variants are also used to program intensity. More math to do when calculating out one ARI, or Average Relative Intensity. The ARI must also fall within percentages to ensure safety and get results. Thank goodness for calculators.
@itstimecoach_andrea : Check her lift out on Instagram
I recently had my first success coaching the PlanStrong ™ system with one of the it’s time! Fitness Results coaches Andrea Brennan. She achieved personal records in 3 events at the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge last weekend in Seattle. Her results surpassed our goals with a deadlift of 125 Kg, 120 16 Kg snatches in 5 minutes, and 3 strict pull-ups. All completed with excellent form and with no injuries.
Even when we think our training and conditions appear optimal we can’t guarantee results. There are many factors in play within our system. Our hormones, nutrition, recovery, stress, and sleep influence us 24/7. Both Andrea and I are happy that our plan came together. I only told her what to do and she had to do the work. Nevertheless I share in her achievements.
A Plan? – Do you have one or not?
If you don’t have a plan perhaps it’s because you don’t want to stick to it. A little change and variety may be just what you need to make the idea of change a little more appealing. Is there a way to apply some of the principles of variation to your plan to shake it up and achieve the results you are looking for?
If you have a plan then again perhaps changing it up a little will stimulate some change and results in a positive response.
If you have been doing the same thing at the gym..
It’s time to shake up the regular gym routine you’ve been following for 10 years. Stagnant training creates plateaus. We need fluctuating stimuli in our muscles and tissues to spark adaptation in motor control, strength and mobility.
Think variety for the session, week, month, and year! Get creative!
With or without a Plan: Apply Some Variation – In training and in your daily life
Are you one of those people that fall into the “habits” way of living? Has your body grown used to how you move, feed, and mentally nourish it? If the patterns and habits are well established and we agree some change is desired…Then how can we vary things for you?
Let’s predict some change will spark vivacity, improve health, energy, sleep, and improve productivity!
Examples: Do you always eat the same thing and at the same time?
Too much or too little quantity?
Do you always move the same?
Has your posture improved?
Are you dealing with the same issues that you have been for years?
How many Squats and Hip Hinges did you do last month?
Do you always forward lunge? Do you ever reverse lunge?
Do you think the same? Our thoughts tend to be repetitive.
Can you flip the situation? Make the glass half full for a change?
Ever catch yourself judging others? Is this necessary? Can you work to find a more accepting thought when the judgement machine strikes?
Do you always eat when you are tired or upset?
Take a look at the Emotions and Responses Cheat Sheet developed and shared with permission from Georgie Fear. Make a change to your emotional eating by changing up your response with some help from the guide. At the very least you have a new strategy to apply to some of your not so good eating habits.
So if you have a plan great – change it up
If you don’t have a plan don’t feel bad about it
Make a Strong Plan For Yourself
Start small and appreciate the value of a slow build
Everything that makes you a better version of yourself is worthy of your time and effort.
“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” ― Henry David Thoreau, essayist and poet.
Inform, Instruct, Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results
Written by: Sheila Hamilton and Briana Kelly
Copyright May 2019
Georgie Fear : www.nutritionloft.com/coaching Graphic used with permission
www.workzone.com 45 Powerful Planning Quotes (-1)
Sheila’s Personal Notes and manual from Planstrong ™ : Attended in San Diego March 2019
Life Cycle – Track your Time App
The Wellness Garage Weekly Newsletter – Dr. Brendan Byrne
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What you can do for yourself to help
The Pain of Arthritis and More
We recently hosted a group of physiotherapists from the Complex Pain Program at St. Paul’s Hospital. It was an interesting evening discussing their program which is often a last resort for individuals suffering with chronic pain. Many individuals joining because of diseases associated with one of the many forms of arthritis.
Pain is an unpleasant sensory experience from the brain. For those that suffer from chronic pain I’m sure you can relate to the unpleasant component and may share in a well known fact known from those of us who have worked with individuals that suffer from chronic pain that you “don’t feel heard.”
There are over 100 types of Arthritis – arthr- meaning joint and -itis meaning inflammation, all the types of arthritis are a form of joint inflammation.
1 in 5 Canadians live with arthritis and 1 in 2 adults over 65 have arthritis
There is no cure for arthritis
There are two categories of arthritis:
- Osteoarthritis (OA) is the result of the body’s failed attempt to repair damaged joint tissues. We think of this as the “wear and tear” or degenerative arthritis. It leads to the breakdown of cartilage (elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones) resulting in bone on bone contact that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion. This is the most common type or arthritis that people get as they age.
- Inflammatory Arthritis is different from OA as the source of joint damage comes from inflammation. Inflammatory arthritis includes every form of arthritis except for OA, and is mostly caused by autoimmune diseases characterized by inflammation of the joints and other tissues and organs within the body. Within this, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Psoriatic Arthritis are the most common. With these autoimmune diseases the body’s immune system starts to attack the healthy tissues, and results in pain, stiffness, restricted mobility, fatigue, and damage to the joints. People of all ages can get these, and it’s not just limited to older adults.
An important point to mention here is that there is a crossover with arthritic symptoms and chronic pain. From my recent inservice with the complex pain physios from St. Pauls Hospital my notes read: Arthritis treatment – wear and repair /motion is lotion.1 in 5 Canadians suffer from chronic pain, making this an important point to touch on. Direct from my emails with Sarah Brothwick: “Websites I refer to are the Arthritis Society www.arthritis.ca and Pain BC www.painbc.ca. The Arthritis Society in particular offers a lot of online education as well as in person education sessions. People In Pain BC www.pipain.com is a network of support groups in local communities I also refer to a lot. They are not specific to arthritis but are more about chronic pain in general, but because a large component of arthritis pain is from chronic pain, is very applicable and relevant.”
There are connections between pain, arthritis pain, chronic pain and emotions.
Like it or not the more I have the opportunity to share through the blog and radio show the more the message seems to be the same….we are all dealing with stress in a stressful world and navigating it is challenging for us all. Chronic pain and chronic stress and chronic everything – with no disrespect here but rather a respectful “I got you, cause I got it too.”
From the book, “The Happiness Advantage” author Shawn Achor states: While many of us, thankfully, live lives free of serious trauma, we all experience adversity of one kind or another at some point in our lives. Mistakes. Obstacles. Failure. Disappointment. Suffering. We have many words to describe the degrees of hardship that can befall us in our personal and professional lives. And yet with every setback comes an opportunity for growth that we can teach ourselves to see and take advantage of. (-1)
If there is no cure for arthritis how can you improve your pain levels?
A change in the way of thinking about Osteoarthritis is that although wear and tear is a component and a natural result of aging, bigger triggers include: obesity, eating the wrong foods, stress, injury and lack of complete rehabilitation, and lack of exercise. This from the book “Healing Arthritis” where author Susan Blum states “the ultimate goal is to shift your body on the deepest level toward resiliency and vibrant health.”
Improving Your Nutrition
The goal of treatment for arthritis is to control pain, minimize damage to joints, and maintain a person’s quality of life. Some treatments include supplements and prescription medications to improve pain levels and modify the disease. Less invasive treatments that help improve quality of life and joint health are our nutrition changes and exercise. In extreme cases joint replacement or resurfacing surgery would be considered.
“Inflammaging” is related to age related chronic inflammation. Another quote from Blum’s book: “With each passing birthday, low grade systemic and local inflammation occur, triggered partly by age related increases in visceral (abdominal) fat and a decrease in muscle mass.”
Did you catch the part about eating the wrong foods? This opens a bigger conversation on the theories we acquire many diseases and the state of your GUT HEALTH. Looking to include foods in your nutrition that are probiotic and anti-inflammatory, and reduce or eliminate the refined and inflammatory foods would be worthwhile. Another win for taking responsibility for yourself by forming positive nutritional habits. Last months blog “Time To Step Up Your Spring Nutritional Habits,” focused on replacing or scaling poor nutritional habits with ones that will produce results over the long term. Think of nutrition and exercise being the two pillars that will produce the best results, rather than one or the other.
Can exercise help?
Physiotherapist Sarah Brothwick who specializes in working with inflammatory arthritis states, “Exercise is definitely a big component of self-managing arthritis, but people have to find something that will work for them and at a suitable level.” If we want to put on muscle mass we need to be doing some form of strength training.
I feel this is currently a hot topic in our industry as many health practitioners can play a role in pain management. In keeping with each practitioners scope of practice I ask, “Is rehab training or is training rehab?” (A famous quote and lecture series from Charlie Weingroff.) My scope as a personal trainer includes assessment and exercise prescription that is appropriate for the level of the individual. Including exercises that are effective or corrective in nature is competency and mastery of the “art and science” of being a master trainer. I do not have manual skills to adjust or manipulate, or fancy machines, or the ability to prescribe supplements or medications. The training plan I give you is all natural and can be part of your overall plan.
Exercise can be an effective way to reduce long-term symptoms. The American Centre for Disease Control recommends that people with arthritis follow the general physical activity guidelines for adults or older adults. There is no evidence that activity will progress the condition. In fact Dr. David Olson of Edgemont Chiropractic recently explained to me that our joints need to be stimulated to repair and there are many studies that support this. In fact a sedentary lifestyle, not increased activity increase the of hip and knee arthritis by over 10%. Olson states, “the cartilage needs loading and unloading for it’s nutritional health.”
We tend to move less when we are in pain. Unfortunately, the less we move, the less we become capable of moving. Move it or lose it! “Why do you lose mobility? Because your brain doesn’t want you to move. Why doesn’t your brain want you to move? Because you stopped moving.” – stopchasingpain.com
Below you can find a joint routine that can be completed everyday to keep your joints moving because motion is lotion!
Osteoarthritic knees and hips will benefit from low impact exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles which support and move those joints. Exercises may include:
- Shallow squats that can become deeper over time as the knee joints become stronger
- Quad and hip flexor stretching
- Hip hinging exercises, such as in glute bridges or deadlifts that strengthen the hips (the hips are the powerhouse of the body and can help to protect your knees!)
- Hamstring stretching and strengthening exercises
And as always, strengthening the core will provide benefits to the limbs – if your core is not up to the task of stabilizing your body, your body will look to the various joints to do extra work! A strong core lets you accomplish more with your limbs.
Another benefit of exercise is resultant weight loss. Excess body weight creates more stress on arthritic joints. Exercise aimed at weight loss can provide long-term ease and relief of pain and swelling. According to a 2005 study, one pound of body weight can create 4 pounds of pressure on the knees. So if you lose even just 10 pounds, you’ve lightened the load on your knees by 40 pounds! Losing weight is not only a product of increased exercise but more importantly nutrition.
The positive mental health benefits of exercise have also been well researched. I had a laugh when I came across an article from the Business Insider that researchers from Yale and Oxford that say “exercise makes you happier than money!” Ok well another spin is that exercise is more important to your mental health than your economic status.
What else can you do?
Mindfulness activities (reading and meditation), support groups, and counselling. Focus on activities that you enjoy and monitor the intensity with your pain levels. Gardening for example is a great way to move and relax at the same time. Use pain flare ups as a guide to modifying the intensify of your activity. I suggest always working within your capacity and being aware of where your tolerance levels are. Sometimes this takes practice! The benefits will show with consistency when you make movement a lifestyle.
Inform, Instruct, Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results
Written by: Sheila Hamilton and Jessica Pastro Copyright April 2019
Email from Physiotherapist Sarah Borthwick who specializes in inflammatory arthritis. Thank you for providing me with some excellent resources!
Chronic pain contacts at St Paul’s Complex Pain Program:
Keri Fuchko: tel:604-806-9028, Kfcuchko@providencehealth.bc.ca
Sarah Hearne: Kfcuchko@providencehealth.bc.ca
Book: Healing Arthritis: Author Susan Blum Copyright 2017 – Thanks to Linda D for sending this book my way!
Book:The Happiness Advantage : Author Shawn Anchor (-1) P. 111
“Fitness For Mental Health” The Globe and Mail (Ontario Edition) 8 Apr 2019 PAUL LANDINI
JOSPT PERSPECTIVES FOR PATIENTS Running and Osteoarthritis Does Recreational or Competitive Running Increase the Risk?
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2017;47(6):391. doi:10.2519/jospt.2017.0505
Running does not increase symptoms or structural progression in people with knee osteoarthritis: data from the osteoarthritis initiative Grace H. Lo1,2 & Sarra M. Musa1 & Jeffrey B. Driban3 & Andrea M. Kriska4 & Timothy E. McAlindon3 & Richard B. Souza5 & Nancy J. Petersen1 & Kristi L. Storti6 & Charles B. Eaton7 & Marc C. Hochberg8 & Rebecca D. Jackson9 & C. Kent Kwoh10 & Michael C. Nevitt11 & Maria E. Suarez-Almazor12 Received: 17 November 2017 / Revised: 10 April 2018 /Accepted: 20 April 2018 # International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) 2018
Nutritional Habits - Make or break?
If I could give you everything I know about nutrition, would it change anything you do today?
When it comes to this topic, the world is overloaded with information. What you eat is very personal. Taking my advice and making changes will only happen if I can coach you in a way to make this relevant.
Eating is habit. We often eat the same things, at the same times, and not always for the right reasons.
I am happy to share information and give advice; however, you must ask yourself WHY you might want to heed my advice on eating and nutrition.
- Want to look better?
- Feel better?
- Sleep better?
- Reduce the risk of disease?
Not everyone has weight loss or aesthetic goals. Hurray on eating for more than one outcome.
It’s never one thing holding you back from improving your nutrition. It’s all a process of developing smarter habits than you currently have in place, and using them to replace the poor habits. You must make the decision that these habits are relevant to you so any changes you make are maintained.
There is nothing crazy here, and there is no magic pill or magic diet (trust me, as we’ve been looking!). You will get results if you build out healthier habits. Educate yourself in the process and trust that your consistency will pay off in the long run.
Let’s get to the real reasons you are not eating for fuel. We need that fuel to perform, fight illness, prevent disease, sleep, and feel strong mentally.
In her book Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss, Nutrition expert Georgie Fear states “Research shows that individuals who seek to lose weight by adopting rigid rules or following a diet are more prone to binge eating and weight gain than individuals who aren’t trying to restrict their intake. Stress increases appetite and fat storage, and weakens willpower and tenacity in the face of challenge.”
So two big players in Nutrition coaching (Precision Nutrition, Georgie Fear) focus on habit based eating. Let’s look at what that means…..
What are habits and why are they so important?
If you think of poor and unhealthy eating in terms of habits that you find hard to break or change it might be easier to see that creating new habits that promote healthy eating can work.
Your results are going to be “transformational” if you are very compliant and consistent with your new healthy habits. New research from Precision Nutrition (PN) may surprise you though, “Just putting in some effort-no matter how small-changes things.” (-1)
Facts from a recent PN email:
* Every client eats food
* Every client could eat food better
* Eating better can 3x (even 10x) the results from the exact same exercise plan
Great movement coaching is something we pride ourselves with at it’s time! Fitness Results. But let’s face it…results that are 3-10 X greater with more effort on the eating side. Let’s think about the seeds of change for you personally and then let’s get making some new habits.
Dig deep for the reasons why you want to improve your nutrition. If we give ourselves the time to reflect and the compassion to accept where we are then making small changes will happen and will have an impact on our health.
Here’s our top 5 habits for change.
Keep in mind that perfection is not the goal but practice in the process. Every “habit” can be scaled to your particular situation. How much change do you want and just how much are you prepared to give up to get there?
#1 – Food Preparation – Plan Ahead!
– Plan ahead for the week so you don’t run out of food or the time to prepare it resulting in take out, fast food, and restaurant meals.
– Grocery shop once or twice a week.
- Stay stocked on your most used high nutrient whole foods.
- Plan your meals and stick to your list. Avoid buying snacks and treats so they are not in your home to tempt you!
– Prepare and cook food for the work week!
- Pick a consistent day to cook for the work week and make it a habit.
- Batch cook larger quantities of food, especially protein to make lunches and other meals easier to prepare.
Remember the 80/20 rule when it comes to meal planning. If 8 out of 10 meals are planned by you then there is lots of opportunity for social occasions and dining out. There is value in making small changes for even less time than you think. Research shows that changing scaling habits and making changes 50-60% of the time still results in weight loss. Make changes that can be maintained long term. These are lifelong habits that you are making.
#2 – Eat Your Vegetables…and Fruits.
How many servings of Vegetables and Fruits are you consuming each day?
Take a look at what amount of vegetables you are currently eating and increase from there. Recommended amounts would be up to 10 cups of vegetables. Fruits contain more sugar so for weight loss you might want to be thinking of this when choosing fruits over vegetables and thinking it’s ok because it’s a fruit!
- Research has shown that eating the daily recommended amounts of vegetables and fruit may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.
- A diet high in vegetables and fruit has been shown to improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure and reducing serum cholesterol.
- Vegetables and fruit contain protective substances such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre, as well as plant compounds called phytonutrients. Eat a rainbow of color!
- Remember that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates and their calories can add up. Check in on the amount of fruit you are eating, including juice.
# 3 – Get Enough Protein
Why do we need Protein?
Protein helps replace worn out cells, transports various substances throughout the body, and aids in growth and repair.
Consuming protein can also increase levels of the hormone glucagon, and glucagon can help to control body fat.1 Glucagon is released when blood sugar levels go down. This causes the liver to break down stored glycogen into glucose for the body. It can also help to liberate free fatty acids from adipose tissue – another way to get fuel for cells and make that body fat do something useful with itself instead of hanging lazily around your midsection! Protein is essential for gaining lean muscle mass and changing our body composition. The process of aging causes muscle loss through the decades. (Sarcopenia) Adequately supplying the body with the right nutrition combined with resistance training are your best tools for staying strong!
How much protein do you need? Read my past blog on The Science of Healthy Protein Reviewed.
How much protein you need depends on a few factors, but one of the most important is your activity level.
Basic recommendation: 0.8 grams per kilogram of body mass. For example, a 150 lb (68 kg) person would consume around 54 grams a day.
However, this amount is only to prevent protein deficiency. It’s not necessarily optimal!
Optimal recommendation: 1.4-2.0 g/kg (or around 0.64-0.9 g/lb.) of body mass. Therefore a 150 lb. (68 kg) person would need about 95-135 g of protein per day.
Physique athletes (bodybuilders): 1 gram of protein per pound of mass, so 150 g per day for a 150 lb. individual.
When do we need protein?
With each meal
20-40 grams for females, 30-60 grams for males.
Examples of 100 grams of protein:
- Lean Ground Beef Hamburger: 19 g
- One Hard-Boiled Egg, Large: 6 g
- Cottage Cheese 2%: 12 g
- Chinook Salmon: 27 g
- Roasted Chicken Breast: 31 g
- Halibut: 33 g
- Ribeye Steak 10 oz.: 38 g
- Black Beans: 21 g
# 4 – Stop at 80% Full or Eat just Enough
- Eat scheduled meals/snacks. Avoid getting too hungry.
- Resist urges to eat when not hungry. Stop at 80% full.
- Describe physical and emotional feelings around eating times.
# 5- Eat Unprocessed Whole Food and Superfoods
Does it have an expiry date? Foods that have been processed often have added ingredients that we don’t need like sugar salt, and chemicals with long names!? Some of us are in the habit of buying and consuming a lot of processed foods without really thinking about it. Whole foods usually contain more nutrition, less calories and more fibre which is added bonus.
Are you eating enough superfoods? Keep a good stock of these around and you will find it much easier to put meals together long term and stick to your healthy eating program.
21 Superfoods Checklist – No particular order.
# of Servings
Lean red meat (org grass-fed preferred)
Protein – Lean meat
Salmon (wild caught preferred)
Protein – Fish
Eggs (omega-3 and cage free preferred)
Protein – Egg
Plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, coconut and almond milk.
Protein – Dairy
Protein Supplements (whey, milk or plant protein sources)
Protein – Powder
Carb – Vegetable
Carb – Vegetable
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower)
Carb – Vegetable
Mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
Carb – Fruit
Apples and Oranges
Carb – Fruit
Mixed Beans/Peas (black beans, lentils, split peas, etc.)
Carb/Protein – Legume
Carb – Grain
Whole oats (large flakes)
Carb – Cereal
Raw, unsalted mixed nuts (a variety including pecans, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, etc.)
Fat – Seeds and nuts
Fat – Fruit
Olive Oil (extra virgin)
Fat – Oils
Fish Oil (salmon, anchovy, menhaden, krill) or algae oil
Fat – Oils
Flax Seeds,Chia Seeds, Hemp Hearts
Fat – Seeds and nuts
Green tea , peppermint tea
Garlic and Ginger
Fermented foods and water!!
One last thought on liquid calories and added sugars.
You may not be aware of how your liquid calories can add up preventing the weight loss you desire. Juice, soda pop, alcohol, shakes, specialty coffee and tea drinks can all contain a lot of calories and added sugar. Liquids move through your system faster than solid food leaving you feeling hungry again in a shorter period of time. A recent article in The Globe and Mail by Leslie Beck, “Food labelling can be baffling when it comes to sugar – here’s what you need to know,” points out the differences between naturally occurring sugars and added and free sugars. This is important information to keep in mind when trying to reduce overall sugar not only for weight management but for the prevention of heart disease and diabetes.
Remember that you must make the decision to work on habits that are relevant to you. Deciding how important your goals are to you at this point in your life will define the level of habit making change you can create and sustain. Make improving your nutrition a lifestyle.
Let me know how you are doing by dropping by it’s time! Fitness Results or sending me an email: email@example.com
Inform, Instruct, and Inspire at it’s time! Fitness Results.
Written by David Ewart and Sheila Hamilton
Copyright March 2019
ttps://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/WhctKJVJjtQvXmNLzthHSKGFMjWnhqJtzfRzMlTFVMnGjjnDmfzbfNgKBCgtBkxnSXTCsTL Email from Precision Nutrition
Email and conversation with Jennifer Robinson R.N.
Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss: Georgie Fear Copyright 2017 P.19 (-2)
Explore the food guide: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
Copyright: <a href=”https://www.123rf.com/profile_iqoncept”>iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Copyright: <a href=”https://www.123rf.com/profile_pixelbliss”>pixelbliss / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Email CKNW listener on Sugar facts: Eric Arbuckle Article from Leslie Beck: The Globe and Mail: 11 March 2019 Food Labelling can be baffling when it comes to sugar -here’s what you need to know.
Since the radio show segment and Valentines Day landed on the same day this month it seemed fitting to focus the blog on your all things with HEART!
Your heart on Valentine’s Day day often gets credit for the how much you feel the love but I’m going to cover some of the ways in which your heart can make you feel!
The two sides of the heart can actually be applied in more than two ways. The are two sides to the physical heart and heartache usually makes you think of a heart broken in two. Another way to define the two: a biology side and psychology side.
The biology side of me wants to share information on heart rate, stroke volume, blood pressure, heart rate variability, and breathing (specifically nasal breathing). Making informed decisions on activities that affect these (“Your cardiovascular system and more”) from a technical perspective will decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, which is preventable.
The psychological side of me appreciates that the heart is one connected organ and some of the “softer” aspects of our health might benefit from a closer look at stress, sleep, relationships, and mindset.
If #selfcareishealthcare then let’s look at both sides of your heart.
Knowledge is power so use it to help you feel better every day.
When thinking of your heart as a muscle from the biology side we have several indicators or measures of your health.
Your blood pressure, heart rate (pulse), and heart rate variability are all separate measurements and indicators of your health.
It’s important to understand the difference between blood pressure and heart rate because although they can affect one another they are not directly related to each other. While your blood pressure is the force of your blood moving through your blood vessels, your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Heart rate variability is the time in-between each heart beat. It is reflective of the internal stress you are experiencing and although somewhat new to the fitness realm it has been well researched as an effective way to measure the physiological efficiency of the body.
Blood Pressure measured in millimetres (mm) of Mercury and is the result of two forces or pressure readings. One test will give you two numbers such as 120/80 which is the Systolic pressure (upper number) reading over the Diastolic pressure (lower number) reading.
Systolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats and pumps blood out of the heart and into the arteries which are part of your circulatory system.
Diastolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats and refilling with blood for the next beat.
Heart and Stroke defines varying blood pressure categories: low risk, medium risk, high risk. See your doctor or healthcare provider to get a proper blood pressure measurement.
- Low risk: 120 / 80
- Medium risk: 121-139 / 80 – 89
- High risk: 140+ / 90
Heart Rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Your heart is a muscle, and the stronger and more efficient it is, the more easily it pumps blood throughout your circulatory system. A lower heart rate usually indicates a healthy and strong heart muscle.
You can measure your own heart rate the old fashioned way by taking your pulse or use one of the many devices available on the market.
- Take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, on the thumb side.
- Use the tips of your first two fingers to press lightly over the blood vessels on your wrist.
- Count for a full minute to get the most accurate reading.
- Take in the morning before rising will give you the best indication of what your resting heart rate is. This can be used to calculate specific ranges for heart rate intensity training that are more accurate than the standard of 220 minus your age to obtain your heart rate maximum.
An average pulse is between 50 and 80 beats per minute and many factors can affect your average.
A faster than average pulse can be related to age and issues such as infection, dehydration, stress, anxiety, thyroid dysfunction and heart conditions to name a few. Some medications, especially beta blockers and digoxin, can slow your pulse. A lower heart rate is notes in folks who exercise. The heart muscle is strong and efficient and therefore pumps less often to achieve the demands put on it.
Respiratory Rate is the number if times you inhale and exhale per minute. Whether you inhale and exhale through your mouth or nose is not a factor when counting the respiratory rate. Your respiratory rate generally increases as you body demands more oxygen with exercise or the imposed demand. Your rate may increase with fever, illness, and with other medical conditions. A normal value is between 12 and 16 per minute.
Heart rate and exercise
Measuring your heart rate before, during and after exercise will give you an idea of your heart health. The greater the intensity of the exercise, the more your heart rate will increase. When you stop exercising, your heart rate does not immediately return to your normal (resting) heart rate. The sooner it does return to a normal rate has recently been found as a positive factor in heart health management.
A rising heart rate does not cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate. Even though your heart is beating more times a minute, healthy blood vessels dilate (get larger) to allow more blood to flow through your body and deliver more blood to your muscles. You want your heart rate to increase with exercise but your blood pressure to respond by only increasing or decreasing a modest amount.
When thinking of your heart as a muscle from the psychology side we have several indicators or measures of your health:
- Have you ever felt your heart rate rise when you feel anxious and stressed?
- How are you managing your stress, sleep, relationships, and mindset?
- Do you know about your autonomic nervous system?
It’s a good place to point out here that the heart rate variability (HRV) is a direct measure of many things on the psychology side that provides a number reflective of where your nervous system is on that given day. I find it fascinating when my HRV reading is telling me something that my mind doesn’t necessarily want to hear!
The concept of HRV is not new but the technology behind it is. There is a lot of research on heart rate variability spanning over the last 40 years including 20,000 studies published on the findings. Until recently, this technology was only available to the medical and research professionals. Now, we can take it out of the hospital and into the fitness training environment thanks to Bluetooth heart rate straps and phone apps (some of which are free).
Heart rate variability is a simple tool that can help to figure out what’s going on within the autonomic nervous system. The data that you can collect can tell you a lot about things going on in the body that you can’t necessarily feel. It’s the time between heart beats that is recorded over time that determines the variability.
The autonomic nervous system is fundamental to what’s going on inside the body and the heart rate variability or time between each heart beat is reflected in this number.
There are two branches of the autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic system and the para-sympathetic system. The sympathetic system is your gas pedal or flight or fight response. It has a greater influence on the body when awake. The para-sympathetic system is your brake pedal or your rest and digest system. It has a greater influence during rest and influences your ability to recover. The balance between these two systems is heart rate variability. Read more on heart rate variability from my past blog .
Nasal Breathing 101: What is nasal breathing and can it affect my heart?
I predicted back in 2017 that nasal breathing was going to get a lot of traction when I wrote this blog “Noses are for Breathing: Mouths are for Eating. I continue to be a big fan and I regularly program nasal breathing time for my clients and practice it myself. Many people find this very challenging.
Benefits of breathing through the nose:
- Nose breathing gets 5-15% more oxygen uptake than mouth breathing
- Nasal breathing warms and humidifies incoming air.
- Nasal breathing removes a significant number of bacteria and germs from the air you breathe in.
- The nose is a reservoir for nitric oxide. This gas is released from the paranasal sinuses and is essential for good health. It sterilizes the incoming air, opens airways (natural bronchodilator) and enhances oxygen uptake in the blood among other things.
- Nasal breathing during exercise allows you to keep your work intensity great enough to produce an aerobic training effect based on heart rate and VO2 max.
From the Heart and Stroke website here is the list of healthy lifestyle behaviours to give yourself this Valentine’s Day.
? Eat Well
? Get Moving
? Maintain a Healthy Weight
? Manage Stress
? Stop Smoking
Heart Disease is preventable.
Reach out to us at it’s time! Fitness Results with your questions!
Inform Instruct Inspire @ www.itstimefitnessresults.com
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright February 2019
Beyond Training: Ben Greenfield Copyright 2014 p.46, 47
The Oxygen Advantage: Patrick McKeown Copyright 2015 p. 34 (-2)
The role of heart rate variability in sports physiology. Dong JG1.
CNS Tap Test Version 1.4.0 (-1) From the App Store Information page
My past blog on Heart Rate Variability and the heart lub dub.
My past blog on Nasal Breathing: Noses are for breathing.
Picture Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo
Is Your Suspension System Responsive?
Pelvic Floor Health is the topic today and this doesn’t just refer to the ability to control urine. There are many pelvic health concerns and discussing them continues to be uncomfortable for many. This is a topic that has been on my mind to discuss for awhile and thankfully my colleague Christina Carrick and I were able to reach out to three Physiotherapists to obtain content for this blog and radio show.
From Christina: “I caught a television commercial the other day which effectively had the message “you are a woman, you are of a certain age, it’s time to start thinking about which absorbent undergarment to choose”. The tone of the commercial struck me, as it suggested urinary incontinence is a normal part of aging and it happens to everyone once they have children, or reach some age. Although incontinence is common, it is by no means normal! Incontinence is a symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction, and should be addressed just as you would any other muscular dysfunction.”
We don’t talk about the pelvic floor nearly as much as we should, which can result in not thinking about it as much as we should. Both men and women can experience pelvic floor issues. With men it presents most commonly after trauma, or prostate pathology, but can be insidious, states Marnie Giblin, Pelvic Floor Re-education Certified Physiotherapist. Many women develop problems with just the aging process, childbirth, and surgeries.
What is the Pelvic Floor?
The Pelvic Floor is a sling of muscles that connects your genital area front to back. They work in concert with your lower back and abdominals. Without getting too specific on the names, picture the location and then turn you attention to the most important aspect: Function. Does your pelvic floor function as it should?
Both men and women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction and it should be a consideration in those suffering from back pain. I think of the core as a cylinder or box that includes the shoulders, neck, and hips. At the lower end of this core box lies your pelvic floor, and in the middle lies your diaphragm. The importance of proper breathing mechanics makes sense when you think of the diaphragm having a piston action on your pelvic floor with each breath in and out. The diaphragm intersects your whole torso so it is very important in core stabilization and function of the pelvic floor health.
The muscles and connective tissue of the pelvic floor within the pelvis which serve many functions which we will call The 4 ‘S’s:
- Support for the internal organs
- Sphincters – constricting pelvic orifices including the urethra, vagina, and anus
- Sexual function
- Stability, including balance and responsiveness (did someone say CORE?!?).
If you are having problems with any of these functions, it could be time to start thinking about your pelvic floor!
Have you been drawing your belly button into your spine thinking that this could be helping your pelvic floor and core? We had a great coffee shop chat with Cheryl Leia, Certified Pelvic Health Physiotherapist that included some interesting visuals like this little chicken. It demonstrates that drawing that belly button in pushes the pelvic floor south which is not ideal!
What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction occurs when the pelvic floor tissues are not functioning well enough to provide the 4 ‘S’s. The tissues might be weak and muscles unable to contract as strong as we would like or with the speed we would like. Or the tissues might be hypertonic – always contracted, and unable to let go. (In order for a muscle to function, it must be able to both contract and relax!) Or it could even be that muscles are not firing in a synchronized fashion.
Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:
- Urinary or bowel incontinence. This includes leaking during exercises (such as skipping, jumping, heavy lifting) as well as the inability to make it to the bathroom in time.
- A feeling of heaviness or protrusion during lifting. This could be an indication of pelvic organ prolapse – one of the internal organs has protruded or dropped through the pelvic floor’s support.
- Pain during sexual intercourse. Sex should not hurt.
- A difficulty maintaining core posture and transferring forces between limbs.
- Constipation. Even if you are pooping, you might still be constipated. Did you know you can poop around poop?! If your poop looks like deer droppings or toothpaste more often than not, you are probably experiencing constipation.
Side note: How often should bowel movements occur? Three answers for you:
- Former Nurse Sheila: If you don’t go every day or other day we have trouble.
- Physio Siobhan: Every day or so.
- Physio Cheryl: Three times a day to three times a week.
An important note on this topic includes the fact that constipation contributes to pelvic floor issues as well as being one. Start with water and fibre, and daily movement to improve frequency. (And movements!) The state of your gut health is currently a hot topic so I encourage you to look into this if you have chronic constipation issues.
Why is a personal trainer talking about this stuff?
Pelvic floor dysfunction could be hindering your workouts and your progress. Are there exercises you avoid because they cause you to leak or they give you a feeling of heaviness or protrusion? Or perhaps there are exercises which are more difficult than they should be, because the pelvic floor cannot maintain pelvic and core stability. The body is not just a bunch of adjoined compartments, working individually. It works as a whole, complex system, and if one piece is out of whack you can bet that everything else is being affected.
As trainers we fill the training plans with load to achieve other goals such a muscle gain and bone density. Program planning must consider pelvic floor cuing and I am here to state it hasn’t been in my experience. We must change this folks so get comfortable talking about it and incorporate the cues shared here into your training and practice.
What cues should we be using to ensure we train safely and minimize risk?
We have to be careful that the cuing we use with our clients is not causing more issues cautions Cheryl Leia, Certified Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. We do need to pick up and support the floor prior to an imposed demand. The controversy lies in what that means exactly. The pelvic floor muscles do respond to sets and repetitions with the same principles of adaptation as the rest of the body. It seems to me that intensity of the exercises in the pelvic area are what one should be careful with.
If too many Kegels are being done with the wrong intensity (too much squeeze) or the breathing isn’t right it can make matters worse. Many are at a loss as what to do.
Siobhan O’Connell of Trimetrics Physiotherapy states we are moving away from squeeze words and gives us some updated terminology:
- Draw in a little
- Activate gently
- Engage lightly
- Gently pick up a “blueberry” without crushing it.
For the Men:
- Pull the testicles gently to the body.
- Bring the boys back home.
Can proper breathing help the pelvic floor?
Yes, and in fact learning about the piston action of the diaphragm and pelvic floor can go a long way to helping improve the function and responsiveness of this area.
If you suspect a problem….what can you do?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should mention it to your doctor or trainer. Both should suggest a referral to a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist who is qualified to make a thorough examination and assessment with follow-up exercises. The Pelvic Health Physiotherapist and the Trainer can then work together to ensure you are getting the most out of your workouts while strengthening the pelvic floor. Often this will involve special attention to breathing mechanics and postural alignment during exercise.
Poor postural alignment can also lead to shortened and weakened pelvic floor muscles. Standing with the hips tucked under all day can lead to some of the pelvic muscles always being in a shortened, contracted state. When the body then looks for pelvic stability, the muscles can misfire or are unable to fire in a synchronized fashion. With the pelvic floor compromised this way, symptoms such as incontinence can occur. Adjusting posture so that feet, hips, shoulders and head are aligned to the task can help balance out muscular contraction and aid in responsiveness of the pelvic floor.
Marnie Giblin another Pelvic Floor Physitherapist we consulted (Myodetox/Pivotal Physiotherapy) states “Many people with pelvic health concerns stop exercising, but this is more damaging long term. Development of core strength, postural awareness, and control of the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles are key.”
In the first picture above, notice how tucking the hips under moves them forward of the feet and shoulders. In the second picture, the shoulders and hips stack evenly above the feet.
Just where is your weight going with jumping jacks and skipping? If this is you, try getting your hips over your shoelaces instead of your toes.
What about Kegels?
Kegels are a highly debated topic among health and fitness professionals, with some universally prescribing kegels as the exercise to prevent or treat pelvic floor dysfunction and others saying they are a waste of time or even counter-productive. As usual, the truth probably lies somewhere in between the two extremes.
A Kegel is a pelvic floor contraction – an exercise meant to strengthen the pelvic floor. One common cue for performing a Kegel is to “stop the pee”. Some physiotherapists have found that this cue results in over-gripping, however, so a better cue might be to “imagine picking up a blueberry with your vagina”. If you are a man, a more appropriate cue would be to “bring the boys home”. (See above for more notes on cuing.)
Some experts have pointed out that Kegels might not be the exercise a person needs, however. Biomechanist Katy Bowman points out that Kegels will pull the sacrum inward, and for someone with weak gluteal muscles which cannot balance out the Kegel, this will result in excessive gripping of the pelvic floor and an inability to contract properly. According to Katy, the best way to GET pelvic floor dysfunction would be to do too many Kegels while having weak glutes! Katy instead prescribes exercises which strengthen the glutes and surrounding muscles, and encouraging a more central posture with the bum not tucked under.
If you are doing kegels and not sure if you are doing them correctly, or if you have been doing them but not getting results, consult a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. The therapist will be able to do an internal and external examination and get you on the path to a stronger pelvic floor! Some therapists have real time ultrasound so they can see what is really going on (or not) which can be helpful in making the treatment plan.
Written by: Sheila Hamilton and Christina Carrick
Copyright Jan 2019
Thank you to these three Physiotherapists for contributing to the content of this blog:
Certified Pelvic Health Physiotherapists
Trimetrics Physiotherapy: Siobhan O’Connell
Canopy Health: Cheryl Leia
Myodetox/Pivotal Health: Marnie Giblin
From the web:
Copyright: <a href=”https://www.123rf.com/profile_rastudio”>rastudio / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Are you a good Chief Operating Officer of you?
As the year draws to a close once again we all should sit back and take an inventory of how 2018 has unfolded. In my business it’s called the year end review. Taking an inventory of the stock on hand and systems in place. Are the systems working? By what measures are we evaluating the business?
If we switch this focus back to personal and pose similar but more probing questions to yourself you can get an idea of how to assess and take stock of your health and well being. Whether you own a business or not you are the COO – Chief Operating Officer – of you. Answer these questions truthfully to tap into whether what you are doing is serving or working for you. Need some things to change? Then let’s also take a new approach to what you can do to effectively make change. Where you start will make more sense when you have a clear idea of where you are at now, and what aspects of change will have the biggest impact on your wellbeing and bringing out the best in yourself.
I brainstormed with colleague Andrea Brennan on this topic a few weeks ago. We both travelled to Atlanta to take a Foundational Strength and Functional Movement Level 2 course. The FMS system is “easy” in a way once you understand that everything is connected. Addressing one movement impairment or imbalance can positively influence many other movement patterns in the body. We threw a high five at each other when applying this principle to overall health and wellness. Could there be an algorithm of correction for health and wellness? We think yes, and evaluating where you are is a great place to start.
Before we get to the meat and potatoes lets review the classic tried, true, and sometimes successful way of setting goals.
Are you setting unrealistic goals?
Old school and classic model of goal setting tells us:
- To put them in writing.
- Make goals specific and measurable
- Give them a timeline
- Make them realistic!
Are you setting too many goals at once?
Have you heard about the Power of Less? Author Leo Babauta emphasizes this point in stating:
The only way you will form long lasting habits is by applying the power of less. Focus on one habit at a time which brings in success rates of 80%. When we get too ambitious and attempt two habits simultaneously, the success rate drops to below 20% for either habit. (-1)
Are your goals really going to serve you?
Are your goals outcome based or behavioral..as there is a big difference. Typically we can set ourselves up for failure by making lofty outcome based goals that do not contain the elements of smaller behaviour changes (think habits) that will bring success.
In another example we are usually pretty good at setting goals for things that we are already good at. I like to go to the gym and so my gym based goals come easily to me. Achieving them can give me a semblance of success but behind the scenes and in my own mind (my biggest demon) lies a number of things that really could be better if I was prepared to address them.
Where are you on the readiness and commitment to change continuum?
On one end we have low commitment and we wish, hope, and would like to change. On the other end is the high commitment folks who really want change and are willing to put effort and commit to the work needed. Either end of this continuum can result in change but it requires you to find a realistic place that works for you to start if you want a chance of success.
How prepared are you to answer these probing questions with truth, heart, and courage so that you can really impact the areas that need to change? Ready to take a look? Peel back the layers of the onion and see what lies underneath the surface? Is there a huge abyss that needs to be filled?
Did you achieve last years goals? If not, why not?
Is what you’re doing working for you?
Are you getting results?
Maybe you are doing good…could it be better? Yes, it can always be better. This is where I suggest you may need another area of focus.
#1 Soul and Spirit
- Have you found what makes you happy?
- Are you accepting of yourself?
- Do you feel you have a purpose in life?
- Are you in the church of nice? With every religion just be nice.
- What motivates you?
- Do you have a circle of support around you? Friends and or family.
- Do you feel you have quality in your relationships?
- Do you feel you are living an authentic life?
- What is eating at you? If you don’t look within, you go without.
#2 Health Measures
- Are you prioritizing your own health?
- Do you do enough self-care? There is huge value in taking care of yourself first.
- Do you get regular medical check-ups?
- Is your weight where you want it to be?
- Do you have regular bowel movements?
- Is your urine a light yellow color and does it have a strong odor?
- Do you get enough sleep? Do you know how much sleep allows you to function at your best?
- Are you drinking enough water? Eating nutritious foods? Fiber?
- How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat daily?
- Do you eat enough protein for your aging and fitness goals with each meal?
- Do your good habits outweigh your not so good habits? Alcohol, sugar, emotional, and mindless eating to name a few.
- How many times a week do you eat out or order in?
- Do you do enough meal planning and preparation?
- Do you eat until you are more 80% full on a regular basis?
- Are you getting enough exercise? How many times a week are you active for more than 30 minutes?
- Do you do any strength or resistance training?
- Have you achieved your fitness and or aesthetic goals?
- Are you still suffering from the same aches and pains you did last year?
- Do you have the same postures and bad habits?
Make your Standard Operating Procedure
Based on your answers to the probing questions perhaps you have discovered a key area that could use your focus. Creating an SOP – Standard Operating Procedure will help you to formulate that area with more intention and focus.
While there are so many components to success there are also many to failure. If we look to one thing for the fix it often does not happen because it’s more complicated than that one thing!
Have you been going after the wrong thing?
I’m saying you can’t blame one thing, and I’m also suggesting that you focus on changing one thing at a time.
Focus on one qualitative instead of quantitative! Get yourself going with 90% compliance on one “thing” before adding another “thing” into the operating plan.
Assess, plan, and reassess. What non-negotiable change have you decided to focus on?
You only own your own body so I encourage you to take care of it inside and out. Looking at the graphic you can get a sense of the algorithm.
Make a positive change in one thing and it will change other things!
In her article “Six Steps to Positive Change,“ author Shelley Levitt writes and quotes from psychologist Dr. Susan Whitbourne that our ability for change doesn’t carry a “best before” date. At any age, we can change aspects of ourselves, and most people want to change at least some aspect of their personality. The great news follows that when you start to change your behaviors there is a favorable effect on how you think about yourself. Win-win!
I take the responsibility of coaching very seriously. I believe I can make a difference and hold the opportunities I have been given close to my heart. As I continue to learn I continue to lead. We are living proof that taking care of yourself improves your wellbeing and happiness. Set yourself apart and hold yourself to some new standards in 2019 to bring out the best in yourself.
I’ll be waiting to hear from you! Take care of yourself.
Inform, Instruct, and Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results
Written by: Sheila Hamilton and Andrea Brennan copyright Dec 2018
Mark Nepo: More Together Than Alone: Pathways that Bring Us Together
Book and 1 day workshop Vancouver Oct 20, 2018
FMS Level 2, Foundational Strength Course: Lead Instructor Brett Jones
Atlanta : Nov 16 – 18, 2018
Magazine: livehappy: The Science of Happiness Issue 26
P.32 Six Steps to Positive Change by: Shelley Levitt
Precision Nutrition : The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition
P.254-255, 262-263 (-1)
Conversations with: Andrea Brennan :Lead Kinesiologist at time! Fitness Results
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Meal Planning and Preparation
I think meal planning and preparation is my greatest challenge to long-term nutritional success. In my quest to be a role model and ambassador for fitness results I often put pressure on myself to walk the walk. I’m human and in my experience, the challenges I face are not unique to me. I often come across others that are feeling similar nutritional challenges with themselves, and their families. It’s reassuring to know that all improvements we can make with consistency will result in progress towards the end goal of sound eating in my opinion: To feel healthy and move well in your skin. Listen here to my discussion on this topic with Jon McComb on CKNW 980am.
Nutrition is the answer to your health, body composition, and performance goals. There are many factors that influence our nutrition and some are easier to dial in more consistently than others.
Do you have these daily habits under control?
Water, eating until you are 80% full, eating slowly without distractions, eat protein dense foods with each meal, 8 servings of vegetables and 2 fruits, and healthy fats.
In order to make those happen you have to have food on hand and so that leads me to ask you about Meal Preparation and Planning.
Who’s driving your nutritional bus?
Does the meal planning and preparation belong to one person or member of the household, or are the responsibilities shared? Who is the chief cook and bottle-washer? Do their nutritional goals align with yours? Perhaps some honest conversations have to happen in order to close the gap between what is happening currently and what needs to happen to improve the nutritional habits we are talking about.
Message From Top of the Food Chain – Coach Ewart
I have worked with Dave Ewart at it’s time! Fitness Results for 6 years. I joke when I say he’s at the top of the food chain but the truth in the humor is that he lives at the top end of nutritional health. The staff and I are always in awe of his lunch and dinners plates at the gym. He shares some of his strategies with me here:
The hated meal prep! To facilitate a healthy diet and body composition it is of utmost importance. Why so challenging? It takes time and our days seem to be filled with other important things or are they? If we asked 10 people to list three things that are of utmost importance to you what would they be, well health is going to be on most people’s list. In order to be healthy, eating habits have to be established so meal prep is on the top of that list. When you meal prep you leave out grey areas like what am I going to eat now. Your meals are ready to go leaving out any guesswork.
To be successful at meal prep you first must know what you are going to eat. I do not change what I am consuming much but for people who need variety research your recipes well and then shopping is a necessity. The reason I do not change my food selection a whole bunch is I consider food to be fuel and healthy fuel means a better functioning body. I also am the type of person who does not need a ton of variety so once again if you are they are many good recipes out there. I think side note: sometimes simple healthy food selections go a long way in our busy worlds and yes simple can taste great.
Some people dislike it and some like it. Personally, I like to shop and yes I am one of those people who will read labels and take my time. As you get accustomed to certain foods you are going to consume your time in the grocery store becomes much faster and becomes a fine art. Really the only foods you ever have to read labels on are ones in packages so the fresher the better and that begs to less processed food. I shop twice a week usually and typically with driving time spend 1.5 to 2.5 hours a week food shopping.
Is this feeling like “work”? No this is a healthy habit that must be slowly installed into your lifestyle. When you have a family you and your spouse should share the duties of shopping and cooking, hopefully, everyone in the household is on board with the healthy eating habits and meal prep.
Now that you have done your shopping, cooking for the week let’s see what that looks like. Well in my case I cook on Monday afternoon or evening for my work week, which is Tuesday to Friday. My goal every week is to eat as healthy as I can during workdays and be okay with a bit of weekend eating outside my healthy habits. I do not like cheat days but if it is a birthday or special occasion a piece of cake tastes so good. Cooking typically takes me 2 to 3 hours including cutting or chopping. Yes that means I eat leftovers during my work week you can cook twice a week if you like or you can cook every night you come home but this once a week works efficiently for myself. If you can establish the 80/20 rule which is 80 percent of the time I will eat healthily, and 20 percent of the time I will eat outside my healthy habits you are doing okay. Ask yourself if that what you are doing now? I follow the 90/10 rule but I eat to fuel so read into that as you may.
Dinner or late night
Meal prep for dinner or late night eating really is a hard thing for all or is it? I typically spend including driving time between 11 to 13 hours driving to, at, and driving home from work. So the 4 days of work per week are full day consuming, never mind the countless hours the team spends behind a computer at night or morning. No complaints love my career and teammates. My dinner is my lunch so that is my biggest meal I also bring a salad to work. When I get home around 9 pm I am going to eat again but what? For sure I am eating high protein foods with some complex carbs, those are long days but I am not reaching for crappie food choices. I have healthy meals delivered to my house each week, lots of good food services out there, which is an option to consume or one of my favorites is an egg white wrap with possibly a bit of cream cheese. Having done meal prep on Monday I could just warm up some of that healthy food or consume a salad, my salads are very hearty and taste delicious.
Food prep is a habit and like any habit being consistent is key!
Dave’s Order of things:
- Know what you are going to consume before food shopping
- Food shopping once or twice a week. High-grade protein and vegetables, eating the rainbow, are main foods on my list
- Food prep and cooking pick a day and be consistent each week
I’m driving the bus but….
I’m trying to make things that everyone likes, I’m trying to please…food is love right? I can’t keep up with the likes, dislikes, ethics, and the choices keep changing in my world. Vegan yes, Vegetarian yes, ok only vegetarian…and a little meat.
Entertaining. This has a huge influence of what goes in the body.
Do you have occupational influences that affect your nutrition? Are there unhealthy foods at work? Responsibilities to dine out, and travel?
I put in quotations to emphasize the power that can be put on us through food by our families. “Have a little more, have seconds, have dessert, have another glass of wine.” “I spent so much time making this for you and you won’t eat it.” ” Eat your vegetables or no dessert for you!”
“When my son Mitchell was little I got into a major disagreement with my mother-in-law one day while staying with her about the fact he would only eat the bacon in the spinach salad and not the spinach. She exerted her powers on us by withholding both from him. I was very upset with her for making such a big deal about it and not allowing him a bite of bacon! It was her house, her food prep, and her control. Fast forward 18 years…now he doesn’t eat bacon…only spinach. He’s celebrating 1 year as a vegan. ” ~Sheila
How to Master Meal Planning and Preparation: Adapted from Precision Nutrition’s Guide
Look ahead – Make a menu or two, plan shopping, and cooking time in your calendar
Shop: Decide 1 -2 -3 times a week
Stick to your planned cooking times: batch cook your food groups
Make storage easy and convenient by having lots of glass containers on hand
Making real food with fresh ingredients can be fun. Try cooking your way through a cookbook. At least you know what’s going into your body. We lose that control with processed food and restaurant meals. Use cookbooks as a way to experiment, eat healthier, and reap the rewards for your taste buds.
Remember Weight Loss Should be slow
A review of the “Dieting Principles”, by Dr. Bill Campbell that I discussed in an earlier blog can be found here.
#1 The Rate of Weight Loss Should be Slow
#2 Do not Decrease Dietary Protein When Dieting
#3 Perform Resistance Training During Caloric Restriction
Improving your meal planning and preparation will result in success. You can enjoy all the benefits of great nutrition, lose weight, and achieve long-term results with a few improvements. Tailor or scale the habit to suit your lifestyle and evaluate your changes every few weeks. Remember Dave is dialed in through the week and leaves the weekends less rigid.
Prepare for social situations, travel, and dining out in advance. Open up conversations with your friends, family, and co-workers so you can share with them the importance of improving nutrition for the long term.
We can succeed and make progress towards the end goal of sound eating in my opinion: To feel healthy and move well in your skin.
We’re in it for the long game – Will you join us?
Inform, Instruct, and Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results
Written by: Sheila Hamilton and David Ewart
Pictures below: Dave’s Vegetable Prep, and Christina’s Overnight Oat Prep
Christina Carrick: Coach at it’s time! Fitness Results
Conversations with Dave Ewart and the staff at it’s time! Fitness Results
Notes from Precision Nutrition Infographic: How to Master Meal Prep
The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition – Certification Manual: Dr. John Berardi, Ryan Andrews
Photo Copyright: <a href=”https://www.123rf.com/profile_scyther5″>scyther5 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Notes from the NSCA National Conference: Maximizing Body Composition and Metabolism with Exercise and Nutrition: Abbie E Smith Ryan, PhD Associate Professor University of North Carolina
The Science of Weight Loss – Dr. Bill Campbell : NSCA 2018 Conference notes and slides
Let me convince you to SEE the importance of a healthy neck.
As I understand more about the neck and the importance of its good function I believe I can convince you that some more attention, actually daily attention, to the neck is an excellent idea.
Of course one of the main purposes of the neck is to hold the head in position but remember your head holds the brain and many sensory structures such as the eyes and ears. Neck pain disrupts your senses. Forward head posture changes many things regarding our movement as sensory input shapes our motor system. Movement accuracy can be compromised if the sensory input is.
I’ve posted a blog on the neck in both 2016 and 2017, so having Jon McComb request the topic of necks for my next appearance on his radio show got me thinking as to the importance of repeating and explaining the message of the importance of “neck hygiene.”
Over half of us (54%) have experienced neck pain in the last 6 months. (Cote, P et al 2000)
The neck bones are technically called the cervical spine or cervical vertebrae. The C1-C7 references the order of the vertebrae from top to bottom. The movements of the head and neck have a complicated relationship with our body. There is often a strong connection between neck pain and dysfunction, and shoulder pain and dysfunction. Without going too far down this complicated path let me ask you this:
“If you were given a nice car in your teens and told it’s the only car you would ever have, what would you do with it?”
Answer: Take care of it I hope!
Do you think of your neck like this?
What does a healthy neck look and move like?
The movements of flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation of the cervical spine are dependent on many factors that can change within life: environment (posture, sitting, electronics), role models, (parents and siblings), age, injury, personality, sense of self, and stress.
I’ve enjoyed some sessions lately with local Feldenkrais practitioner Janet Willson of Uplift Studio. Janet shares, “Most of us have the capacity as young people to move with ease (use ourselves globally), as one unit rather than a sum of parts. Over time, life (in our western world) acts upon us to increasingly limit our movements. We think of this as aging but a lot of this is unneccessary and can be regained. Her methods have taught me a lot about how my movement today is a reflection of so many factors in my life including stress. Slowing down and spending more time on self care is my big take-away. I feel it’s kinda like this happiness quote: It’s not easy to find happiness (or good movement) in ourselves and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. (Quote from Agnes Repplier)
You have to do the work
Neck pain or not, I think it’s important to realize that your neck needs work. Neglecting this part of your body will make it a lot harder to recover from any injury that you may sustain. My previous blogs are full of some great ideas for neck hygiene – that information has been out there for a few years so what you need to do is available to you.
Neck pain is complicated because….
One of my favorite sayings currently is, “It’s never one thing.” This is very true when talking about the neck (cervical spine) because how it moves is related to so many issues. The condition and movement of the thoracic and lumbar areas of the spine, and the condition and function of all the muscles affecting them play a role.
There are degenerative forces to your neck that can aggravate it or make the injury/pain increase over time. Often its repeated exposure to lower forces, repetitive movements, aging, or static postures over time that lead to problems as the stress tolerance on your neck exceeds its capacity.
So you see it’s not just falls and accidents (high force exposure) that give you neck pain, but if you unfortunately add a sports injury or car accident onto an underlying degenerative neck and you may have yourself a BIG pain or problem in the neck. Dare I mention improper attention to neck posture and neck position when exercising here? This can be a big contributor to your neck issues.
“When looking to the right do we just move our neck or can we optimize our whole self to turn from the ground and feet up?” Who knows what is right or optimal? I suggest we don’t know, and we are not doing it right! ~ Sheila
It’s not just your cervical spine but also the muscles involved to support and stabilize the head that contribute to your neck health. Working to improve neck posture daily is needed to attenuate further changes and to minimize the overuse and overload of the stabilizing muscles.
In my experience many folks want to exercise but reach limitations with movement because their underlying accumulative neck issues have not been worked on and resolved to a point where exercise can be executed safely. An increase on the pain scale, or a headache that may not be directly attributed the exercise program, may in fact be a result of trying to add strength to a body that simply defaults to it’s weakest link during the movement. In an effort to improve fitness we see or feel a setback.
When programming for a client like this we have to modify their program to avoid any movements that would aggravate or flare their imbalance. Although this can be done, it creates a limiting factor in overall fitness results. Committing to the work that has to be done to make progress is where most folks slide. If a person is not prepared to devote the time needed to complete simple effective release and stretching work, no progress is made.
A little Anatomy
The primary neck active stabilizers of the neck that support it in all planes of movement are called the Deep Neck Flexors. (DNF) “The DNF are most active in the ‘chin tuck’ or cranio-cervical flexion, followed by cervical flexion, and cervical rotation. (-2) The activity of the DNF is decreased or delayed in people with neck pain and postural change, such as forward head posture.
“So if the head is in a forward head posture just think about how decreased your peripheral vision has become. This could present many problems when you think about it from a focus, balance, and safety perspective.” ~ Sheila
“The statistics on neck pain would be higher if we tracked low intensity or low disability pain”, states Dr. William J Hanney, Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida. He adds, “Exercise is a powerful tool in the treatment of neck pain.”
Over time the muscles involved around the neck atrophy (go to sleep) and get thick and fatty. This leads to decreased activity of the deep neck flexors, and an increased activity of the superficial neck muscles (accessory muscles). So some muscles get weak, thick and turn off, and others become over active trying to protect you from a catastrophic collapse!
While listening to his presentation last July at the (NSCA) National Strength and Conditioning Association’s National Conference I felt myself smiling inside because he said this: “Research is strong that exercise should be done for improvement and not avoided. Neck pain patients perceive their pain to be debilitating. Education is needed.” This is great news for me to share with everyone.
What to do?
Neck issues can be resolved with a concerted effort get on top of them. Develop a regular or daily routine I’ll call “Neck Hygiene”.
Addressing muscle length restrictions is the first priority. Release the tight areas in the muscles and fascia. This means rolling with a ball, stretching and actually moving your neck through joint (articular) rotations in a pain free range. Second in the order of improvement would be working to obtain some deep local stability of your neck. Getting those deep neck flexors working again. As mentioned above, neck issues often involve shoulder issues so obtaining control of the shoulder blades (axio-scapular) in different planes would be next.
Neck training has the potential to reduce neck pain and decrease the risk of further injury. Seeking professionals to help you is crucial to your success. Don’t settle for a life with a pain in the neck. Enlisting professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, osteopaths, and personal trainers would be money well spent to get your neck to where is should be.
It’s never one thing
Chronic neck pain can really impact one’s life on a lot of levels. Mostly I have talked about the anatomical side of things but know that neck issues can impact you on a psychological and social level as well. Addressing stress levels if applicable (who doesn’t?) is important as they can affect the disorder and potentially affect the recovery.
In a nut shell
Maintain or regain range of motion with release work to the tight muscles. Stabilize your shoulder girdle and work on your strength. There is huge value in improving your neck posture. The computers and aging are not going away – your neck pain can though.
Continue to address your personal stress levels. Appreciate we all struggle in our human experience called life. Strength serves a purpose both inside and out.
Inform, Instruct, and Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results.
Written by: Sheila Hamilton. Research from Andrea Brennan Copyright Oct 2018
Sports Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation: David Joyce
Chapter 19 : The Athletic Neck p 246 (-1), 238 (-2),
My notes on neck pain from the NSCA National Conference : Indianapolis July 2018
Exercise Considerations for Individuals with Neck Pain : NSCA National Conference Presentation and slides from: Dr. William J Hanney : Associate Professor University of Central Florida
The Science of the Somatosensory System: Slides from NSCA National Conference Presentation: Dr. Emily Splichal (-3)
Conversations with Janet Willson: http://www.upliftstudio.ca/
Movement System Impairment Syndromes of the Extremities, Cervical, and Thoracis Spine
Shirley Sahrmann and Associates Copyright 2011 Pages: 51-113
(Erik E Swartz,* R. T Floyd,† and Mike Cendoma‡ J Athl Train. 2005 Jul-Sep; 40(3): 155–161. PMCID: PMC1250253PMID: 16284634 Cervical Spine Functional Anatomy and the Biomechanics of Injury Due to Compressive Loading)
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