WORKSHOP: RECONNECT WITH MOVEMENT : Breathe - Stabilize - Move

 

NOTE: CLASS SOLD OUT. To find out about future classes please like our Facebook page.

Falling apart and don't know where to start?

Start at the beginning!  Using developmental patterns we will learn how to Breathe - Stabilize - Move

  • Have you ever started an exercise program, only to keep injuring yourself?
  • Do you workout, but feel like your core just isn't engaging like it should be?
  • Do you have constant neck and back tension?
  • Are your hamstrings and calves always tight?
  • Do you feel uncoordinated or disconnected from your body?

As babies we are all born with the same developmental patterns.  First we learn to breathe and stabilize our core. Then we learn to roll to our side, brace on our elbows, crawl, stand and walk.

Starting from a safe position on the ground, we will work our way through the developmental patterns until we have earned the right to stand, and walk, (and workout)!

Details:

Breathe - Stabilize - Move is a four week workshop, with each class building on the last.  Although there will be a brief review at the beginning of each class, best results will be achieved if you can attend all four classes.

These movements are generally appropriate for all fitness levels.  If you can lie on the ground you can get through the first class.  The idea is to build you up from there.

Class atmosphere is fun and casual, a chance to explore movement in a non-competitive environment.

Dates:  Monday Jan 30, Feb 6, Feb 13 and Feb 20.  

Time: 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Cost: $65 (plus tax) for the four week workshop. 

Location: X-PAC Fitness, Group Fitness Room, 1445 Central Ave NW, ABQ, 87014

Space is limited to 8.

Reserve your spot on the Appointments page.

Questions?  Feel free to call (505-948-3773) or e-mail (Dr.Blair@BlueSkyABQ.com).

Five Reasons Your Low Back Hurts (Part 4)

Your Hips Don't Hinge

As in the earlier example of the mid back (see Part 2), if motion is lacking somewhere else (mid back, hips) your low back has to take up the slack.

In this example, most of the forward flexion is coming from the hips.  The back isn't overworking. Happy back.

 

In this example, much of the forward flexion is coming from the low back. Not so happy back.

 

How do you know if your hips are limited in the saggital plane (flexion)(bending forward)?

As part of the initial assessment and functional movement screen, I test every new patient on their "hip hinge".  Even if they don’t have back pain, I want to make sure they are moving properly so that they aren’t putting stress on their low back.   Fixing this one movement can be life-changing for a patient in pain, and highly preventative for folks that have poor movement patterns. If someone has a limited hip hinge, then addressing the issue before their back starts complaining saves a lot of discomfort later on.

You can easily do this test on yourself at home.

Using a broom handle, dowel, (or Louisville Slugger), place it behind your back maintaining contact at both your head and your sacrum (butt bone).  Bend forward, maintaining contact at both points.  You should be able to bend forward about 90 degrees, while maintaining contact at both points.

 

If you can bend forward to 90 degrees maintaining contact at both points then congratulations!  You have good mobility in your hips in the saggital plane.

However, before you start patting yourself on the back, double check that you are not using this common “cheat” to maintain contact.

Um yeah, nice try... fingers are still maintaining contact, but the stick is not.

If you lose contact at your sacrum, you are putting too much flexion into your back every time you bend forward to tie your shoes, pick something up off the floor, or lean forward to look at your computer.  For folks with a flexion-intolerant spine, this is going to cause pain.

The first key to rehab is figuring out what movements are hurting the patient, and then remove / modify those movements.  Otherwise, it is like constantly picking a scab, and the area will be slow to heal.

I can work miracles in the office with adjusting and soft tissue work, but if you then go back to a poor movement pattern the area will continue to be irritated, and your symptoms will come back over and over again.  Not so miraculous.

This is where “active care” comes in.  I can give you the tools to put your body in a position to start to heal itself.  The “passive care” of adjusting and soft tissue work is necessary and feels amazing, but the “active care” is what transitions you to long-term relief.  The brain learns through movement, and learning pain-free ways of moving is a critical part of healing.

When should I used the Hip Hinge?

All the time!   When squatting, when stretching your hamstrings, when moving from sitting to standing, when leaning forward to look at your computer.

Bending forward / Squatting:

Use the "Squat Lift", not the "Stoop(id) Lift".  Notice the nice hip hinge in the squat lift.

 

Stretching your hamstrings:

Please…for the love of whatever you hold dear…do NOT stretch your hamstrings with a flexed back.  It breaks my heart to see this.  When you bend forward with a flexed back you are not stretching your hamstrings, you are stretching your back.  This is not good for your back, and not a productive stretch for your hamstrings.  

NO...    (photo credit: Devon Redmon)

NO...    (photo credit: Devon Redmon)

YESSS...      (photo credit: Devon Redmon)

YESSS...      (photo credit: Devon Redmon)

And, as a side note, if your hamstrings are chronically “tight” please come see me, because there may be a reason those hammies won’t chill out (inhibited glutes, a stability issue in the intrinsic core, pelvic posture, etc.).

Sitting to standing:

Many folks with back problems report that the most painful movement for them is transitioning from seated to standing.  When I hand them the dowel, and have them practice sit to stand with a neutral spine a big smile spreads over their face. No pain! How is that possible?  When you are moving well all things are possible…

Leaning forward at work:

It is possible to move in closer to your work without slouching.  Hinge forward instead, this keeps your back neutral. Do not be these people:

Imagine how happy your low back would be if you would hip hinge forward instead of slouching into your work.  Pretty happy.  

P.S. I love this artwork of a kettlebell swing. And, it's an excellent illustration of a hip hinge.  One of the many things I love about kettlebells is that they give immediate feedback if your form isn't perfect. It keeps you honest!  I work with kettlebells in the office, and often refer patients to kettlebell trainers once they are moving well so that they can strengthen their improved movement patterns.

kb-swing.jpg

 

 

 

Five Reasons Your Low Back Hurts (Part 3)

Your core is uncoordinated

 

Notice I didn’t say “weak”?  Just uncoordinated.

First, what is the core?  Many folks picture six-pack abs as the illustration of a perfect core. Nope.

The core consists of four muscle groups: pelvic floor, diaphragm, transverse abdominus, and multifidi.

 

In order for the core to properly stabilize you, all of these muscles must work together as a unit.  You can’t just train one part of the core and ignore the rest.  

What does an ideal core look like?

Imagine your core as a barrel, one that should extend from your diaphragm (below your ribs) all the way down to your pelvic floor.

The core is relaxed, and un-constricted, and then can brace very quickly to give you a stable base before you move your arms and legs.

What tends to go wrong?

A couple of things.  First, we are often told to suck our stomachs in.  Or we are anxious breathers, breathing shallowly into our upper chests.  Or, we are told to breathe into our bellies.

But, for the barrel to extend all the way down and protect our backs, we need to breathe all the way down to our pelvic floor.

If you only breathe to your belly, or if are constantly tensing your abs, your breath isn’t going far enough down to protect your back.

Sucking in your stomach does not allow the breath to travel all the way down to your pelvic floor, robbing the low back of support

Sucking in your stomach does not allow the breath to travel all the way down to your pelvic floor, robbing the low back of support

If your core isn’t stabilizing your low back, then how does the back stabilize itself? By tensing the larger back muscles.

This is problematic both due to overworked back muscles, and because these larger muscles then compress the spine and create shearing forces.

You can massage your back muscles but it won’t solve the problem because you are still missing core stability in that area.  The muscles will keep getting tight because your body is trying to stabilize the area any way it can. 

Another thing that can go wrong with the core is misalignment of the diaphragm and pelvic floor.

Picture a barrel with the lid and base parallel.  If you press down on the top of the barrel forces will be distributed evenly and it will stay strong.

But what if the lid is tilted? Would it be easier to crush the barrel? Indeed.

In humans, this misalignment of diaphragm and pelvic floor (the top and bottom of the barrel) is often called the "open scissors" position.

In open scissors position the diaphragm and pelvic floor are not well aligned, and coordinated abdominal pressure is lost

In open scissors position the diaphragm and pelvic floor are not well aligned, and coordinated abdominal pressure is lost

It’s not uncommon for folks with an uncoordinated core to have a "leaking barrel".  Acid reflux can occur as too much pressure is put on the esophageal sphincter.  Urine leakage with coughing, sneezing, laughing can occur as the pelvic sphincters have uneven pressures placed on them.

Therefore, an important component of coordinating the core is aligning the diaphragm and pelvic floor.  This can be achieved with simple postural cues.

How do I know if my core is uncoordinated?

If you have back pain, stress incontinence, acid reflux, compressed shoulders or hips, there’s a pretty good chance your core is uncoordinated.

I can plank for minutes and do tons of sit ups so my core has got to be awesome, right?

Not necessarily, as you may be using compensation patterns to achieve these amazing feats.  In the office I can perform simple tests to see if your core is truly working well.  If not, I want to figure out why not. 

Is it your C-section scar causing the problem? Is it a weak pelvic floor?  Is it an overactive pelvic floor?  Is your diaphragm too tight and dysfunctional?

Once compensation patterns are cleared out then some simple breathing exercises can help bring your core back to life.

This may sound very complicated, but it’s not.  As babies we learn how to properly stabilize our cores.  It’s a pattern we are all born with.  We just need to get back in touch with this pattern.

There is an entire technique called DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization) that deals with how to easily get back to these pre-programmed patterns.  Combined with NeuroKinetic Therapy (a technique that helps us find what compensations are de-railing these patterns) we can often easily clear up uncoordinated cores. The best part?  No sit-ups required.

DNS-Intra-Abdominal-Pressure.png

Five Reasons Your Low Back Hurts (Part 2)

You have a lazy butt / sleepy ass

 

Check out your glutes. They look impressive don’t they?  After all, the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body.

But, those glutes may be all show, and no go.

In a perfect world, your glutes initiate hip extension (moving your leg behind your body).

 

But what happens when the glutes are out to lunch? The next extensors in the chain, your low back paraspinals, have to do the work.

 

No one likes to do a lot of extra work, and your lumbar paraspinals are no exception.  They are going to start complaining.

HELP! I'm working too hard!

 

So why do glutes get inhibited?

Sitting is often the cause, although not for the reason you might think.  You’re glutes don’t fall asleep because you are resting on them all day (although lack of blood flow certainly doesn’t help).  They actually are inhibited because your hip flexors are kept in a shortened position all day as you sit.  The hip flexors become short and tight, and inhibit their functional opposite, the glutes.

 

While hip flexor (psoas, iliacus) to hip extensor (glute max) is a common pattern, there are others.

Ever get tight calves?

You massage them and stretch them and they just won’t relax?

Ever get shin splints? 

They won’t go away no matter what you do?

If you have a tight muscle that keeps getting tight no matter what you do to relax it, that’s because your brain is telling it to be tight.  You have to figure out why your brain wants to put stability in that area.

If you look at the body in terms of fascial chains it makes sense that if one area of the chain isn’t pulling its weight, another area will have to work harder.  If your glutes aren’t working, but you still want to stand up, or walk, or run, something else in that chain is going to have to pick up the slack.  It may be your calves, your shin muscles, or even your toe flexors.

 

An added bonus to getting your glutes working is that often shin splints and tight calf muscles (and even plantar fasciitis) will resolve.

Is the solution as simple as stretching your hip flexors, and doing lots of bridges?  That can help, but it may not be the exact remedy in your case.  The key is to figure out YOUR specific compensation patterns.

How the heck do you figure out these compensations?

With a really cool technique called NeuroKinetic Therapy.  With a few simple tests I can figure out which muscles are working and which ones aren’t.  And, which muscles need releasing, and which muscles need activation.  It’s very efficient and very effective.

When you clear out these compensation patterns, and the muscles are working as intended, then your low back muscles finally have a chance to relax. They are no longer doing their neighbor’s work. 

Five Reasons Your Low Back Hurts (Part 1)

As a chiropractor, I’m sure you would think my number one answer would be “it needs an adjustment”. Not necessarily.  In fact, in many cases the low back hurts because it is moving too much.  In this series I’ll walk you through five reasons your low back might be hurting.  

Note: the reasons are in no particular order, and you may have more than one reason involved in your particular case.

Reason One: Your upper back isn’t moving enough.

Your body consists of alternating areas of mobility and stability.  The ankle wants to be mobile, the knee wants to be stable.  The hip wants to be mobile, the low back wants to be stable.  That’s right, the low back doesn’t want a lot of mobility, especially not into rotation.

 

Why doesn't the low back like rotation?

Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the spine.  Where each vertebrae meets its neighboring vertebrae there is a facet joint.  

In the lumbar spine (your low back) you can see that the facet joints have a vertical orientation. If you rotate the vertebrae against each other the facets have nowhere to go. Not ideal.

In the thoracic spine (your mid and upper back) the facet joints have a more horizontal orientation.  If you rotate these vertebrae against each other, they slide nicely.

In a perfect world, you are getting most of your trunk rotation from your thoracic spine.

However, in the real world, what I find in the thoracic spine is:

This leaves the lumbar spine to pick up the slack.  Do you think your low back facets like rotating into each other?  Not so much.  In fact, they may start complaining.

Just treating the symptoms may give you temporary relief, but treating the cause is what ultimately gets you out of pain long-term.  This is why I look at the body as a whole, not just the parts that hurt. 

But let’s not stop there. The next step is figuring out WHY your thoracic spine is so locked up in the first place.

Let me assess how you are moving, how you are holding yourself throughout the day. Often this lack of upper back mobility can be resolved with some simple postural cues and exercises.  Then, your low back finally has a chance to relax.

Interview: Jerry Husted, owner of Adaptability Fitness

Where are you located and how long have you been in business?

Adaptability Fitness has been in operation since November 2013. We’re located at 585 Osuna Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113; directly north of Sandia Preparatory School.

What inspired you to become a trainer?

After a bad back injury, I gained a tremendous amount of weight and an addiction to pain medication. When I decided to take my life back, I started reading. Books, magazines, internet were the resources available to me and I was stunned and aggravated by the amount of pure drivel out there that is passed off as strategies for health and wellness. I decided to get my board certifications and help people avoid the huge mistakes I made. 

There are quite a few gyms around Albuquerque.  What makes you different?

I grew up in the community of people with disabilities. Since I have become a trainer, I have moved my business towards inclusivity and adaptive exercise. Now I specialize in helping people with chronic diseases and conditions achieve their fitness and wellness goals. 

What is your favorite part of being a trainer?

Seeing the moment of achievement and victory on my clients’ faces.

Who is your ideal client?

The person who may not fit or want to fit in a traditional fitness center or gym.