Massage for Mammas: Me-Time is Important in All Phases of Motherhood

Massage for Mammas: Me-Time is Important in All Phases of Motherhood

The prenatal and postnatal phases are both beautiful and brutal experiences when having a baby. When carrying, the lower ribs can become more flared to make room for the baby, especially during the last trimester. Once we have the baby and begin cradling during feedings, it creates more tension along the bra line area. Whether you’re nursing or bottle feeding, it can become very painful due to the posture we tend to assume during those long periods of time (even more so when we are already physically and mentally tired). As a mom, you’re going to experience pain in many places throughout the different phases of being a mamma. Fortunately for you, I’ve been there and am doing it, so I know what to recommend for help. 

The Life-Changing Benefits of Aromatherapy and the Raindrop Technique

The Life-Changing Benefits of Aromatherapy and the Raindrop Technique

Aromatherapy is a fascinating field–one that got me completely hooked and that I’ve been passionate about for years. As a French native, where aromatherapy and phytotherapy have a prominent place in health and wellness, I’ve always known the power of essential oils.

There is so much scientific evidence to support the benefits of essential oils and their chemical compounds on the human mind and body. What I love most about aromatherapy is that it works so well on the mind, body and spirit, which perfectly fits my philosophy of a holistic approach in reaching, sustaining and optimizing equilibrium (also known as homeostasis).

WHY BREATHING INTO A BALLOON WILL IMPROVE YOUR GOLF GAME

WHY BREATHING INTO A BALLOON WILL IMPROVE YOUR GOLF GAME

Golf is an obvious sport where rotational mobility is important, but even more important is how the full body rotation is controlled and sequenced. Without adequate control or correct postural setup, the way that your body rotates during a round of golf can influence how you move in the other areas of your life.

“Good” posture is the foundation to “good” movement. An athletic body in balance must have good posture and good movement. Our mechanical capacity to move air and breathe well precedes good posture and good movement.

INJURY PREVENTION TIPS FOR RUNNERS

Every runner wants to win the injury prevention race, whether it is the runner just starting out, the casual runner or the competitive runner. It seems that with all the advancements in training methods, shoe wear, research and even medicine we think we have found the answer. One thing has become clear to us, through all of the different efforts, there is no magic trick to preventing running injuries. We have evolved and decided to accept that injury prevention has to be comprehensive and takes work. Combining classic ideas with  innovative approaches based on biomechanics, we feel best prepared to help runners maximize performance and minimize injury risk.  Here are our tips to help you prevent injury:

 TRAIN SMART 

Avoid the “Terrible Toos”. That is don’t do “too much, too soon, too fast”. Strive to be a well rounded athlete. Incorporate a dynamic warm up, single leg balance activities, and various cross training variables that allow you to vary patterns and experience multiple muscles chains and planes of movement for your neuromuscular system. Test your neuromuscular mobility by seeing if you can fully squat. With your feet shoulder width apart, squat down until your knees are maximally bent so your hips rest below your knees. Rest your hands on top of your knees and attempt to keep your bodyweight through your heels. Your back should be relaxed and rounded. If you cannot squat you have too much neuromuscular tone throughout your body which can lead to injury. Maintaining the ability to fully squat keeps adequate mobility through your spine, hips, and ankles.

 DON’T GET “DEAD BUTT SYNDROME”

Get connected with your pelvis, meaning you need to have an awareness of what is going on with your hips, how you hold your pelvis, and the muscles that are firing around it. It’s important to keep adequate flexibility in your hip flexors to allow full use of your core and to engage your glutes during the running stride. Never sacrifice good mechanics for speed. When you get dead butt syndrome, its easy to start pulling though your stride which brings us to our next tip…

 DON’T OVERSTRIDE 

Overstriding is reaching forward and landing in front of your torso. This leads to a more forceful heel strike, braking and a loss of momentum. Instead stride out naturally with your legs behind your center of gravity. Use your glutes and hamstrings to “push and power” through your stride.

LEARN TO ROTATE THROUGH YOUR RIBCAGE NOT YOUR LOWER BACK

Rotation and arm swing during the running stride is driven by reciprocal and alternating pelvic and thoracic rotation. Be sure your elbows drive behind you as your rotate through your torso without over arching your lower back.

 BE AWARE OF YOUR POSTURE

Place one hand on your belly button and the other on your breast bone. Keeping your weight equally distributed through your forefoot and heel and without moving our belly button hand, bring your breast bone forward until your weight is balanced over your hips.  This slight lean forward will help you keep your abdominals engaged while you run.  Don’t allow your pelvis to lead in front of your breast bone because you will tend to overarch your lower back and set up a negative chain reaction of using extension muscles to propel you forward. Standing up straight using your back muscles alone is not good postural practice.

You can also stand more erect by scooping your tailbone forward and using your hip extensors to get your pelvic floor underneath of you. This will help your body push forward and keep you gluteal engaged.

VALUE GOOD FOOTWEAR 

Look for shoes with a stable heel counter and good arch support. The minimalist shoe trend does not provide compelling evidence that minimal shoes will reduce injury. We have seen some runners have positive transformative experiences, while others get hurt and disappointed. Understand that the foot is the end of a big kinetic whip (the leg) and that foot strike is the end result of many other things happening farther up the kinetic chain. You want a shoe that fits your unique shape, posture, and biomechanics.

 LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

Injury prevention is multifaceted. A history of injury, an anatomic issue, plus a training error and/or the wrong shoes can all contribute to injury. Research has shown that strengthening alone without retraining movement patterns does not alter mechanics.  Conscious, mindful running with a focus on gait mechanics, body sensing, postural control and movement patterns is a valuable tool and takes commitment and practice. Pain is there for a reason; do not ignore it. Team up with a running coach and/or a sports physical therapist that specializes in biomechanics and movement analysis to evaluate your body and help you improve your form and muscle balance.

5 tips for 'Fit & Fab' Total Body Wellness

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We recently got to spend an awesome morning with the fabulous Kristen Crowley and the WGNT/WTKR News 3 morning crew.  Kristen put together a '5 Days of Fit & Fab' Total Body Wellness series and we were honored and grateful to participate!

In this series, we shared 5 quick tips to set your body up for success not only in the gym, but also in your everyday life. To learn the tips, you can read below to or watch the video clip HERE!

Click will direct you to the WTKR link to watch the video

Click will direct you to the WTKR link to watch the video

Tip #1 - Avoid over engaging muscles to try to stand up tall 

Truth be told, “good” posture is not as intuitive as most people would think. Our postural system is a very complex integration of our many systems and neurologically + respiratorily regulated. Our posture is not just a product of our musculoskeletal system and it is not solely about standing up tall. With this tip, we want people to understand that "good" posture should be effortless posture and you shouldn’t have to work so hard to get your body parts coordinated to stand up or sit up tall.

If you are constantly trying to improve your posture and chase a "neutral spine"- you are working too hard, possibly doing more harm than good, and probably contributing to other health inefficiencies you may not even be associating with your postural system. Many people over extend and recruit too many muscles to stand up tall. They are compromising key spinal relationships and distorting the shape of our natural spinal curves in an attempt to "straighten up". Hyperextension can cause unnecessary pressure through the spine, improper joint loading and increases risk of injury for various joints. Large superficial muscles, like your paraspinals, lats, pecs, quads, and calves, need an opportunity to shut off and rest in order to optimize your postural and spinal support. 

Lastly, it's important to understand, "good" posture is not static – it is DYNAMIC and always changing. A good postural system has VARIABILITY and knows how to move in and out of various positions with ease and efficiency. When working out, consider your movement profile, especially if you have any pain during or after your workout. To be Fit & Fab, your body should NOT hurt! and if it does, you have movement and mechanical concerns you should get evaluated by biomechanical specialists (like us!). Our bodies were designed to move and issues occur in posture and movement because our bodies get rotated in certain positions and various body segments have to adjust and compensate.

Tip #2 - Set your diaphragm up for success

The diaphragm is a very important CORE muscle. Just because we can't see it, or feel it, we should not forget to incorporate it in our quest to get 'Fit & Fab'. Our diaphragm contracts over 20,000 times a day and can benefit from proper training just like any other skeletal muscle to assure it stays balanced and mechanically optimized.  

Breathing is foundational in how our core stabilizes and has a huge impact on various functions within our bodies. Restoring the diaphragms mechanical position can improve spinal, pelvic, and ribcage position and decrease joint torque and strain in the lower back,  neck, shoulders and hips!

When training the diaphragm it is important to maximize the exhalation and that is why we use balloons! The balloons provide slight resistance and provide the system with biofeedback. With training the diaphragm we recommend doing it in various positions and incorporating other key postural muscles like your abdominal obliques, hamstrings/glutes, and shoulder stabilizers. We can go on and on about the diaphragm - it is truly one of the most important muscles to helping us feel 'Fit & Fab'. Besides its mechanical influence on posture, it helps to relax the nervous system, improve immune and hormonal balance, regulate brain chemistry, balance emotions, and improves mental focus to help to reduce stress and anxiety.

Tip #3 - Allow your ribs to move

There are so many movements and exercises in the gym that lock our ribcages up. It's important for people to remember our ribcage was designed to be VERY mobile.

Our ribcage is composed of 139 joints with architecture that is supposed to behave like a slinky or accordion (not like puffed up rigid steel bird cage!)

When our ribcage movement becomes restricted and compromised, various parts of our body become vulnerable. Our spine (especially the lower back and neck), shoulders, hips, and even our knees start to compensate and rotate incorrectly - leading to injury over time. Our ribcage kinematics is where our bodies were designed to rotate, and if your not rotating through your ribcage you will get compensatory rotation in you lower back, hip or knee, etc. Think of the ribs as the long levers that direct spinal motion – the ribs need to move before the spine can flex and rotate. 

Ribcages can become too stiff from over recruiting too many muscles to stand up tall, guarding and over stabilizing the body after injury, over bracing a neutral spine, or from improper breathing patterns. When your are hyperextended, your ribcage doesn’t move correctly and this places stress upon other structures of the body. Many people breathe in more air than they breathe out – in fact this is becoming an epidemic. Hyperinflation and over breathing has huge impact on various aspects of our health.

Tip #4 - Warm up your hamstrings

The hamstrings are very key muscles that control pelvic position and provide foundational support for our natural spinal curves. 

Sitting is the new smoking. And too many of us, sit too much, our hamstrings shut off and become inhibited as the pelvic position becomes compromised due to tight hip flexors and lower backs. 

To help keep your posterior muscle chains balanced, think STRENTHEN - don't OVERlengthen! A lot of people worry about strengthening their lower back, but really to keep the posterior chains balanced, most need to STRENGTHEN THE HAMSTRINGS.  Additionally, many people complain of “tight” hamstrings but in order to determine if the hamstrings need stretched or strengthened pelvic position needs to be respected. There is a difference between mechanical vs neurological tightness. We see many people, trying to stretch their hamstrings because they feel tight, when in reality their too long and neurologically excited. Regardless, with the hamstrings BOTH forms of tightness can be improved when pelvic position is optimized and well supported. 

When thinking about the hamstrings, consider them a key muscles to support the spine and good posture, they should be trained to engaged to support the pelvis and when the pelvis is in a better position you can then work all other core muscles better. 

Tip #5 - Train unilaterally and asymmetrically

This is really a simple concept, but I realize that it can sound confusing at first. Luckily new fitness equipment is being designed constantly to help remedy our concerns with training too many movements symmetrically.  When I say training symmetrically, I mean, both arms (or both legs) doing the same thing at the same time. The fitness industry is influenced greatly by various lifting sports - powerlifting, olympic lifting, bodybuilding, etc. All of their training requires specificity but if you are not specifically training for a competition we encourage you to train in a way that will optimize your body's natural mechanical relationships. 

Forcing symmetrical training may be doing more harm than good if you have imbalances through your core central structures. And regardless if you have imbalances or not, the two halves of our body were designed to move independently. Our extremities were designed to move alternating and reciprocally in gait, reaching, and rotation activities. Moreover, in our daily function, we don’t use our bodies symmetrically, and everybody is dominant on one side of their body or the other. This dominance is often exaggerated by the jobs we do or the sports we play. And the understanding of asymmetrical function, explains how pain and dysfunction develops only on side of the body, or why one side wears out before the other.

It’s important to train both halves of the body. To optimize movement health and postural balance, we recommend incorporating sets of unilateral and alternating movement. This principles is especially important above the level of the diaphragm, because of how we use our bodies asymmetrically all the time for various reaching and rotational activities.

For example: Training with unilaterally with alternation is a great functional way to train the shoulders and chest. Instead of using a barbell to chest press, use a dumbbell or kettlebell to press. With shoulder presses, use dumbbells and rest one at your shoulder level while the other presses up. When training the back with an activity like seated rows, use a single arm cable setting and row one arm back at a time. Or with the free motion or nautilus machines - alternate pulls from side to side so each side of the body is working independently. 

It is cool to mix it up – if doing 3-4 sets of an exercises – you may do the first 1-2 sets symmetrical and than the last two asymmetrically and unilaterally to help keep the ribs mobile. Remember tip #1 - the postural system needs variability. Mix it up, learn to breathe, respect your anatomy and mechanical architecture, and you will be on track for 'Fit and Fab' Total Body wellness!

 

April 2017 London PRI Fitness Course Review

Early this month, I got to travel to Europe to teach the PRI Integration for Fitness and Movement course to a group of professionals in London. The course was jammed packed with Personal Trainers, Yoga and Pilates’ Instructors, Strength Coaches, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, and even an emergency room Medical Doctor. It was a fun few days and London may be one of my new favorite cities!  Check out the Course Review here!

Q & A: PRI Integration for Fitness and Movement Topic - deadlifting

Question: Patient with lower back pain was being treated with PRI. He is doing well and wants to return to dead lifting. Does he just lift as before with PRI activity as primer? Or are there changes in his technique? Is it practical to maintain PRI positioning - knees bent and pelvis inlet in extension during this particular activity?

Answer : Respecting that each coach and athlete has their own style, as well as intensity and set of expectations they focus on while training, we tend to meet them where they are at, and focus on merging belief systems and paradigms to optimize performance of various biomechanical relationships.  If you have no experience in this domain, it would be best practice to pair up with a strength coach or personal trainer in your community who is familiar with PRI and can help your patient transition back to lifting. I suggest looking on the PRI website for a PRT in your community.

In the case of the deadlift, we want the athlete to be able to properly coordinate a hip dominant movement strategy to raise and lower the weight away from the ground. Observation for technique must go beyond the hips and lumbar spine. We must identify how body segments are organizing to hold the load and get the hips through.

Before suggesting any changes, it may be educational - for both you and the patient - to capture some video footage of his current strategy being used and analyze his movement preferences through a PRI lens:

  • How are the hips and thorax being integrated and how are they moving through space?
  • Is the lift being executed with excessive reliance on the extremities or is the core (pelvis + thorax)  being properly integrated?
  • How is the ground being used?
  • How is gravity being managed?
  • What kind of strategy (ankle, knee, hip, back, or trunk) is being used to lower and lift the load?
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An efficient movement strategy in a compound lift is going to include good collaboration front to back, side to side, with no bias in rotation.

With a compound symmetrical lift, each leg should be used symmetrically to properly distribute the external load and keep the center of mass balanced in respect to the line of gravity.

An inefficient movement strategy may include:

  • early sternal or trunk elevation
  • excessive back extension without synchronized AF pelvic extension
  • plantar flexing the ankles and de-grounding the heels
  • early or too much knee extension and quad use
  • pulling the weight up instead of pushing into the ground to get the hips through
  • not keeping the center of mass balanced between the two legs.

It is not necessary to think about maintaining pelvic inlet extension throughout any compound lift. For proper ergonomics, in a sagittal plane movement pattern like a deadlift, the pelvis and thorax need to synchronize their movements. The pelvis will need to move through a zone of motion to properly manage the hips, thorax, neck, and external load. **During compound lifts, the goal should be to move with the pelvis and thorax synchronized and well controlled.

I do recommend keeping the knees bent. We look for pelvic extension to be initiated before knee extension. If the knees extend too early or lock out, the hips will not be able to get through before the back extends. We don’t want the back muscles to be overused or the knee strategy to be the prime mover. Proper timing of various segments extending is important.

  • We want hyperactivity managed so the center of mass and load can be lowered toward the ground and then we want extension coordinated so all moving parts are working together to push the center of mass and load away from the ground.

Hyperactive chains of muscles (rib elevators, pecs, lats, QLs, paraspinals, posterior intercostals, lateral quads/ITB, and calves) need to be able to inhibit to lower the weight in a controlled fashion. Often times at the set up and during the descent, people hang on to “too much” and over recruit. We look for hyperactivity to be minimized so intrinsic organization can naturally neuro-reflexsively be created.

  • When I say inhibit in this context, I means to tone down, soften, and relax. The chains may be active with opposition– we just don’t want them “hyper”active.
  • Over bracing abs is a form of hyperactivity which disrupts natural neuro-reflexsive stabilization. 
  • If the set up is poor and disorganized, chain reactions will further alter biomechanical relationships. Neuromuscular tone at set up and start position is key to successful coordination of body segments.

With a deadlift, compared to a squat, more attention is placed on the hip strategy.

  • The shin angle should remain fairly vertical and the ankle joint doesn't move much. With properly grounded feet - hyperactive plantar flexion tone should be managed and dorsiflexion should be adequate to allow proper ankle range of motion.
  • As they descend, their center of mass must shift back and they should become sensory aware of their heels and posterior weight shift (sway slightly backwards).  From this position, extension movements are coordinated to push into the ground to get the hips through.
    • Extension is most powerful when it is properly opposed, well grounded, and segmentally orchestrated to lift the weight.
    • In this movement pattern, we are looking for good use of the ground and synchronization between the pelvis and thorax so that the pelvic/hip extension can properly sequence with knee extension and back extension strategies.
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Lastly consider the external load configuration. A barbell placed in front of the feet is going to make it more challenging to synchronize all extensor mechanisms. If they are not able to achieve a full zone of apposition independently this becomes a risky load to manage without compensation. A hex bar helps to bring the load closer to the line of gravity and allows the athlete to better manage their center of mass so they can lift heavier with less risk. The hex bar will also help with grounding the feet and sensing the floor. If there is a lot of upper quarter asymmetry and the brachial chains have not been fully cleared, you may want to even consider using dumbbells.

Deadlifts offer a lot of functional integration and I think they should be integrated in most return to sport (i.e. lifting) programs. If done properly on a system that has attained a zone of apposition and that is able to coordinate a hip-thorax strategy well, deadlifts will help to maintain neutrality and promote postural balance. 

*** Lastly, learn more about how patterns of hyperactivity and faulty biomechanics cause problems and inefficient movement patterns as well has how to regulate neuromotor tone by attending PRI Integration for Fitness and Movement Course

#thrivevb #thrivefit #prination #neverstoplearning #enjoythejourney  #fitnesseducation #learntobreathe #humanperformance#optimizethehumanmachine #managegravity #BuildTheSequence #TrainParachutesNotPancakes

March 2017 Seattle PRI Fitness Course Review

This past weekend, I was invited to teach at a beautiful Pro Sports Club Performance Facility outside of Seattle. This kicked off the 2017 PRI Integration for Fitness and Movement course schedule. It was a great weekend!

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You can read the full review here.

This is a 2 day advanced lecture and lab course designed to assist personal trainers, fitness instructors, coaches, sports medicine professionals, and movement enthusiasts in restoring tri-planar function and core performance. Participants gain an appreciation for PRI fundamental principles as applied to various fitness, performance, and rehabilitation settings. PRI-based screening tools are provided to guide exercise selection, technique cueing, and programming. Emphasis is placed on biomechanical components of gait and thoracic position, as well as neurological movement concepts like breathing, grounding, and proprioceptive integration. Lab sessions allow participants to experience each of the principles presented and learn how to immediately apply concepts in their setting. Programming is designed to restore alternating reciprocal movement patterns to optimize athletic durability.

Defying the Odds - Tools of Champions

The New England Patriots defied the odds by coming back from a situation that seemed impossible!

Tom Brady. Credit Getty Images

Tom Brady. Credit Getty Images

Tom Brady credited the team's Mental Toughness for their Epic Superbowl win. 

Mental toughness is a collection of mental performance skill sets that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances and emerge without losing confidence.

The ability to focus the mind and view negatives as opportunities is a strategic mental performance skill that separates Tom Brady and the New England Patriots from their peers. 

Here are a few of the Mental Performance tools the New England Patriots use to dominate their competition.

1) Self-Regulation and Effective Thinking. They were able to optimize their mindset and remain focused even when they were down by 18. When things go wrong, they don't go with them.

 

2) Managing Mistakes and Rebounding from failure by using the 3 R's: Recognize, Reset, and Refocus. Being a winner requires noticing attention thieves, coming back to the breath, and refocusing on what is important now.

 

3) Down Regulation and Recovery. In the face of an intense lifestyle of trainings, publicity, travel, and high pressure games, Tom Brady expertly optimizes game performances with Strategic Rest and Recovery periods which are crucial for focus.  His Recovery tools include Mindfulness Meditation techniques because of their effectiveness at slowing down the mind and down regulating the body.


Mental Toughness is a skill that you can learn to apply during under high pressure situations.

Cognitive and mental skills training proves time and time again to be invaluable investments needed by top performers.

It takes systematic cognitive training to seperate yourself from your competition and become a champion. 


Learn more with our Doctors of Sports and Performance Psychology at http://thrivevb.com/mentalperformance

Our Mental Performance Specialists, Dr. Tracy Heller and Dr. Christine Sanchez, can teach you how to utilize these tools and many more so you can optimize your mindset and boost your performance. 

Our Mental Performance Specialists, Dr. Tracy Heller and Dr. Christine Sanchez, can teach you how to utilize these tools and many more so you can optimize your mindset and boost your performance. 

Real People. Real Results.

Our mission is to create value and provide our customers with solutions that get results. We have set out to enhance the healthcare experience, put our customers needs and goals first, and tailor everyone's care to get results that matter!

Movement is life! When you are injured and in pain and your movement system is affected, your whole life is affected - physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Besides personal frustration or disappointment, your immobility and pain may affect your relationships and ability to do activities with those you love. Don't live in pain! We can help!

Pro Athletes Utilize Mental Performance Training

Attention Athletes! And Parents of Athletes! Mental performance training gives you the edge. Are you ready for college scouts? Are you performing to the best of our ability or are you looking to tap into your true potential?

The Chicago Cubs went to the World Series this year for the first time in 71 years! And they WON!! Coincidence? We think not!  We specialize in cutting edge science because it works!

Breathing is a big part of Mental Performance. Taken for granted by most of us, it regulates our physiology, movement and our postural system. Wisdom knows this and David Ross didn't just give good advice to his teammate, he backed it up with his performance. Ross entered the game in the bottom of the inning and hit a HOME RUN over center field that sailed over the fence.

Smart Teams are formulating strategies to amplify performance. This includes heavily investing in systematic mental performance training as part of their quest to win, grow young players and stay the course to be able to perform when the pressure and competition is the greatest. 

Help your Team optimize mindset and breathe for performance like the new World Champion Cubs.  Learn more about our services and if you are a coach interested in Team Training contact us and we can put together a customizable skills program for you and your team!

 

Phoenix Fitness & Movement Course Review

A few weeks ago, I got to traveled to Phoenix to teach the PRI Integration for Fitness and Movement course for the 6th time.  Read the entire course review HERE

The course was hosted by the Sports Medicine Staff and Strength Coaches of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Amazing facility and staff. We had over 55 people in attendance, some were PTs, ATCs, Chiropractors, Strength Coaches, Personal Trainers, Yoga & Pilates Instructors, and even a PE teacher. 

 

The course presents principles of Postural Restoration and Athletic Durability, so this quote in one of their training rooms couldn't have been more fitting! 

After the 2 day course, Sarah and I got to enjoy a day in beautiful Sedona, AZ! Great Trip and so grateful Sarah got to travel with me!