Category Archives: Mobility

Smart Recovery Improves Your Longevity

Hey there Team!
If you have been reading my blog for a while, chances are you have read a thing or two about recovery. That is no coincidence! I think recovery is a very under utilized tool in our lives. It’s almost like we don’t want to really talk about it, as if it’s not cool to look after yourself. Let’s change that!

"Most people are not over-trained, 
they are under-recovered."

-Joe Holder

I mean, it’s the guy in the office (Larry) that brags about the amount of training that he did that morning on almost no sleep, coffee and 2 Ibuprofen, that gets the “oh, wow, he’s cool”. Compare that to Dan who opted for no Netflix the night before, who did some Yoga or meditation instead and was in bed by 9pm. In our society Dan typically doesn’t get the same “cool” factor. He should though. Dan is setting himself up for success in the long term, whereas Larry is on his way to burn out and have plenty of injuries.

“Just focusing all on the training, and not on the recovery, can be a big mistake!” [1]

I have worked with professional athletes who had to do fewer and less intense workouts for a couple of months, because they had injured themselves in racing. In this case it was falling off a bike and landing on the head. Even though their training volume was drastically reduced they came back way stronger the following season!

Crazy huh?! Well, not really. Being chronically over-trained and under-recovered is not where you want to be for optimal performance. Sometimes it takes a serious injury to understand where you are.

“We want people to be exercising for life, you know exercise is medicine, it’s the best you can do for your body, for prevention of pretty much every disease, so we want people to exercise for a lifetime.” [2]

There is a lot of hype about the best and newest recovery methods, and sometimes it’s not easy to know what makes the most sense. Dr. Shona Halson, a former Senior Recovery Physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport, and currently Associate Professor in the School of Behavioral and Health Sciences at the Australian Catholic University, highlights how we can best maximize our recovery time.

 

The core Foundations are:
Sleep and Nutrition (including hydration.)

Then add on:
Massage, (Great for muscle repair and for balancing the Nervous System)
Soft Tissue Work, Mobility
Compression (socks)
Stretching, Yoga
Meditation, Float Tanks
Cold Showers
Cold Water Immersion (ocean, lake, river)
Ice-Baths (use as “icing on the cake”)

For more detail check out this great podcast from TRAINED with Ryan Flaherty and Dr. Shona Halson with tonnes of knowledge.

Some often misread signs of under-recovery are fatigue and irritability. So why should a weekend warrior or just an active person care about recovery?

Who cares, right? It’s not like I’m about to go to the Olympics or anything. Well, it’s the smartest strategy for making sure that you are injury free, that you feel good and aren’t sore all the time, so that you can be consistent and be able to go out there and do whatever it is that you want to do! For the rest of your life…just saying… 😉

“Rest days are good too! Adaptation happens in rest.” [3]

Why not write down a list of what you use today in terms of recovery on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Is the list very short? What can you add to it? Maybe start investing in a monthly massage or get a foam-roller, or why not both? Are you able to make it to the sauna once in a while, or take a bath with added epsom salt? How is your sleep? What about meditation?

There are many small things that you can do to improve on your recovery, but you have to start doing them. Make space in your calendar and take care of yourself! You will feel better and your athletic performance will improve as well. What’s not to like?!

Wishing you a great weekend with lots of smart recovery!
😉

 


[1,2,3] Excerpts from the Podcast Trained: Shona Halson – How Recovery Can Push You Forward in Unexpected Ways
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
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Best Footwear for Summer – Flip Flops?!

Hey there Team!
Having entered into the month of May, summer is just around the corner. Typically with warm weather and sunny skies our footwear changes. If you live by a beach, or are planning to spend a lot of time in flip flops this summer, make sure you check out this article.

I have talked about this before, but I think it’s an important reminder to check up on. Wearing any kind of footwear that makes you have to clench your toes when you walk, is really bad for the underside of your feet. This can translate into all sorts of problems, but often shows up as a concern underneath your feet, shins and lower leg.

Read the article below to figure out the best way to treat your feet! Prevention is the key, so be smart about your footwear

Photo by Evan Krause on Unsplash

.

Have a great time flipping though the weekend!
😉

By the way, real athletes don’t wear flip flops


Photo by Evan Krause on Unsplash

Tight Hip Flexors Weakens Your Breathing!

Hey there Team!
I hope you had a few nice days off during Easter and were able to spend some time outside. We had amazing (!) weather over here, so I was lucky enough to bike to the beach a few times. It was quite windy though, and I had to push hard on the pedals more than a few times. Breathing hard and being on a bike made me think about lung capacity. It’s a normal train of thought, right? 😉

Did you know that tight hip flexors (often seen in cyclists, but even more so for people who sit on a chair during many hours of the day) can decrease your lung capacity? Well, how does that work?

When your hip flexors are tight they pull your hips into a forward (anterior) position. This extra tension makes it harder for your diaphragm to do its work. If the diaphragm is unable to fully expand it means that you will not be able to inhale as much air as your body wants and needs. For instance, less air into your lungs means that you will have less oxygenation of your muscles.

Less oxygen, less power.
Less oxygen, less recovery, less power…

Dr. Kevin Kirsch explains it short and sweet in this video. He is an Art Of Breath Instructor with Power Speed Endurance. Check it out.

 

Try out the different positions once and see how it feels. Tilt your hips forward as far as you can (just like in the video), and then take a deep breath. Then bring your hips back into a neutral position and take a deep breath here. Notice how much easier it gets to breath deeply when your hips are in a good position. Imagine the impact that can have over a longer period of time.

Here are two previous articles that includes the couch stretch, and also here. I hope this can motivate you, coming from a different angle, to work on those hip flexors. I mean, who doesn’t want their breathing to be as effective as possible?!

Being aware of your breathing is the first step. Now go out there and practice.

Have a great weekend freeing up those hip flexors!
😉

 


What about the first minutes of your workout?

Hey there Team!
How is everyone doing? As the sun is showing up earlier and earlier each morning, I come across more and more runners as I’m biking to and from my early CrossFit training sessions. It’s great to see more people out there doing their best to get some more activity in to their days.

Also around this time of year people tend to set goals, like running a half-marathon or even a full one. Training for something specific can be a great motivation to get going, and also sticking to it.

Together with that though, I also see a lot of strains and injuries in my practice. Often a combination of too much too soon, while more or less excluding a proper warm-up and cool down.

Paying attention to the first minutes of your workout, and making sure that you start off with a good warm-up is an essential part to a long-lasting injury free body. I have written about this before, and I am bringing it up again, because I am still seeing the same issues again and again.

“Well, an injured body cannot do a workout at all, so be smart and plan for the long run!”

“I don’t have time” and “I’ve gotta get my workout in” are reasons I hear all the time as to why people don’t do a warm-up. Well, an injured body cannot do a workout at all, so be smart and plan for the long run.

A warm-up should always be a part of any workout you choose. This becomes even more important when you work out first thing in the morning, as the body is just getting started.

Check out this super easy warm-up routine, and see how you can build it into your workout. You can use it just as well for a cool down. This warm-up is a favorite of mine to do whenever I’m about to go running. I hope you will enjoy it too.

Be good to that performing body of yours, you’ve only got the one.
Have an amazing warmed-up weekend!
😉


The Recovery Process – A Secret Weapon

Recently I listened to a podcast with LeBron James and his trainer Mike Mancias. LeBron James is one of THE best basketball players of all time. Mark, his trainer and recovery specialist, is sometime referred to as his secret weapon. They’ve been working together for more than 14 years. What really stood out to me in this podcast, is how much emphasis LeBron and Mike puts into the Process of recovery, every single day. In order to stay injury-free,  and be able to play consistently at an extremely high level.

“Recovery never ends, recovery never stops.”
-Mike Mancias

When we look up to athletes that we think are awesome, we pretty much only focus on how hard and intense their work-outs are. It’s easy then to do a quick copy and paste on some kind of version of that, for our lives.

Meaning we focus almost exclusively on what kind of training we should be doing. It makes sense since the main focus on athletes are when they are competing in their Arena, and we see their incredible performance.

The thing that not a lot of people see though, is the work behind the Arena. Just like LeBron, the top athletes that I have worked with over the years are all consistent performers on behind the scenes stuff, in particular recovery. It might not be the sexiest part of living an athletic lifestyle, but as Mike says “it’s a never ending process…that’s the approach we must take, in order for us to be successful and provide longevity for these guys.”

“it’s a never ending process…that’s the approach we must take, in order for us to be successful and provide longevity for these guys.”
-Mike Mancias

 

LeBron who already has had a long and amazing career, is still playing, and is not planning on quitting anytime soon. He contributes his success to being consistent with the Process. The Process of his recovery work, hydration, eating clean and training.

When it comes to Nutrition, Mike and LeBron work along the lines of “less is more, keep it simple, eat organic, no artificial ingredients”. They make a conscious decision of eating clean and staying away from artificial drinks, artificial sugars and fried foods consistently during the 9 months of basketball season.

-Ok, sure. But, that’s their job. I’m not an Athlete, why do I have to care about this? If it takes all that work to play continuously at a top level in sports, don’t you think you need to do some work in order to “play well” in your life? If you want to have a life of quality – whatever that means to you – you are going to have to put in some work. Period.

So what can you do for your recovery work? The easiest place to start is to plan in some kind of mobility work daily. Make a conscious effort of when and where you are going to do it. Here is a good place to start.

I often suggest to sit on the floor and do some mobility exercises during the first 10 minutes of watching Netflix, TV or similar. It’s easy because it’s time that you already have. It’s just a conscious decision of doing a few simple moves on the floor, instead of flopping onto the couch immediately.

Start thinking about what you can you do in your life to create a Process that helps you being fitter and more energizedHow would that Process look like in terms of Hydration, Nutrition and Recovery work?

Work on implementing that plan, and have a great weekend!
😉

"A good plan implemented 
today 
is better than 
a perfect plan implemented 
tomorrow."
-George Patton

 

 


Listen to the full podcast of #349 of the Tim Ferriss show here.
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Crush the Ski Holiday – Not Your Body

What if, out of the blue, you found out that you were going to an outdoors sports-camp for 3-4 days. You would be doing movements you haven’t done for ages, maybe years even, for 6-8 hours a day.

Would you get a bit nervous about the whole thing? Maybe you would start worrying about injuring yourself? What are you going to do about that troublesome knee? What about keeping the energy up all day?

In this case scenario, starting with warming up the major joints in your body, to reduce potential injury is a very good idea. Making sure that you are properly hydrated before, during and after the work-outs is also an important piece. Do you think drinking alcohol would benefit you? Do you think the food you eat might have an impact on your performance? What about the amount of sleep?

Reading this you probably think – ja, ja, ja I’ve heard it all before. Of course it makes sense.

Why then, does all of this logical thinking seem to go straight out the window when it comes to a Ski Holiday? It’s like because we are on Holiday, we don’t really need to pay attention, or something?!

A ski holiday is very different from a beach holiday, so it would be a good idea to tackle it differently. Not many people come back from beach vacations with broken bones and torn ligaments, now do they?

 

The very, very least that you can do to minimize damage is the following. First, make sure that you are properly hydrated. Bring a small back-pack so you always have easy access. Minimize the coffee, sodas and definitely the alcohol.

Second, do a targeted warm-up to open up your joints. Remember, if something doesn’t move very well, something else has to move a lot more. And this is often the area that gets injured because it has to overcompensate.

Accidents happen all the time, and never at the “right time”.

Thinking that you’re going to warm up on the slope is a bad idea. Accidents happen all the time, and never at the “right time”. For extra recovery go into the sauna in the evening, if you have the opportunity. If you only have time for one stretch in the evening, then I suggest you do the Couch Stretch.

Check out the video below. If it seems too technical for you, just give it a go anyways. Otherwise, do something similar for the same amount of time. Get those joints moving and warmed up!

If you think a 10min investment in your body and your health is too much in exchange for 6-8 hrs of problem free skiing a day, then don’t complain when your knees are hurting. Or when you can hardly get out of the car after driving home. Or when you are in the emergency room instead of enjoying the day with your friends.

I suggest starting with these exercises even before your holidays. Get yourself ready, so you can enjoy every day in the snow. For targeted mobility work for your hips and back after long car drives, check this out. Don’t know your Hydration Formula yet?

Take care of your body, and it will take care of you!
😉

 

 

 

 



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Four Songs to Improve Your Knees and Low Back

November is here! I hope you guys had a fun Halloween! Being in the darker months of the year we tend to spend more time sitting indoors. All that sitting makes for stiff muscles. Those stiff muscles can then cascade into more serious problems like back pain. We can all agree that being in pain is not exactly something that improves your daily quality of life. 

So let’s stay ahead of the game, and iron out those stiff muscles before they can start to trouble other areas. 

At my gym this week we did a lot of quad (upper thigh) work and since these muscles also get very stiff when we sit, I thought we should zero in on them quads. 

To loosen things up we are going to start with a smash on the quads. My favorite tool for this is the rumble roller, but of course you can use any foam roller. A lacrosse ball works well too. 

Remember to give yourself a little bit of time as you start out so that you really sink into the muscle. Take a couple of deep breaths and feel the muscle relax a bit as you sink deeper into the roller. From here you want to SLOWLY roll side to side. If you go to fast you will only work on the surface and not get deep into the muscle where all the tightness is. In the video they also use a voodoo band. If you’ve got one, you know what to do. If you’ve never heard of a voodoo band, don’t worry and just go on without it. 

Watch the video (jump to 1:12) and then pick two songs you like. For the length of the first song, smash your right quad. For the length of the second song, smash your left quad. Here are the songs I am currently using for this, number one and number two.

Ok, great. Now we have softened up the tissues a bit. Time to get some length in them with this active couch stretch. If you learn to do this right, this is a life saver of a stretch. It’s really important to pay attention to all the details.

Too often people aim to get their back to the wall. It’s not about reaching the wall- it’s about improving from where you are. You can use a towel instead of an ab-mat if you need to. Start out low, with your upper body at about 45 degrees, tighten your butt and then SLOWLY move your back towards the wall.

If you do not tighten your butt (activating your glutes in technical talk) you will put too much pressure on the disks in your lower back. This is not what you want. So, get into the right position and stay there for as long as you can. If you need to you can come out of it by moving your upper body forward for a few seconds. Then get back at it. Tighten your butt again and move towards the wall once more. 

OK, lets go! Pick a third and a fourth song for the right and left side. 

Four songs later, if you have just done these exercises, well done! You have now opened up your hips, and elongated your quads. Your knees and back will thank you. I think we can even stretch to say that you have improved on your quadity of life!

Pre-hab is much better than re-hab.
Let’s get to work tigers, and have a smashing weekend!

😉


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Same Shoulder Pain – Two Different Reasons

Last week we talked about different strategies for dealing with a similar problem. Depending on if the origin of the problem is external or internal, our strategy to improve should reflect that. So, lets take a closer look at two different people with “the same” shoulder pain.

Ben shows up at my practice complaining of pain in his right shoulder. It bothers him at work (he works in an office) and during sports. He has taken some painkillers that helps a little bit, but not completely. He also wakes up in the night sometimes because the shoulder bothers him. He does a few quick stretches at the gym, but not always.

Upon further examination it’s clear that all the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder are very tight. When I ask him further about his sports, it turns out that he has increased his workout routine lately, and in particular he is doing a lot more push-ups. I ask him to show me how he does a push-up, and it is clear that he is lacking the proper technique. He is not supporting his shoulders properly, and therefore putting an unnecessary burden on the rotator cuffs. For a while the rotator cuff muscles managed to compensate, but now they have reached a point of exhaustion – enter pain.

Ben’s homework included learning proper push-up technique. He was shocked to find out he had been doing it wrong for all these years. He also learned proper mobility work  for the shoulder, working with a foam roller and lacrosse ball for 10-15 minutes a day. Being strong without being flexible, is a road to injury. With a few complimentary deep tissue massage session he was “as good as new” within a few weeks.

Roy shows up at my practice complaining of pain in his right shoulder. It bothers him at work (he works in an office) and during sports. He has taken some painkillers but it doesn’t seem to help. He wakes up in the night, because the shoulder and neck bothers him, often around 3am. Sometimes he does a few quick stretches at the gym.

Roy’s rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder are very tight. He has not changed his work out routine in the past few months. He has dark, puffy circles under his eyes. The area around the lower end of his right rib-cage is a bit tender to the touch, and there is a slight metallic smell to his skin. These are all signs of an over burdened liver. I check his push-up technique, and it is fine.

He tells me that he drinks about 1-1,5 L of water a day, which he thinks is good. Further questioning reveals that he has had a lot of extra events at work  in the last few months, which includes “wining and dining”. As he feels very tired he drinks coffee throughout the day to keep himself going. Part from the “wining and dining” in the evening, he is quite rushed during the day and tends to eat quickly on the go, mostly carbs, like sandwiches and sweet stuff. All of these things have put a tremendous burden on his liver, which indirectly through shared nerve pathways sends pain into his shoulder.

Roy’s homework is to learn about proper hydration, diuretic beverages and basic liver function. He downloads the app to re-educate himself about how much and what he drinks, so that he can adjust accordingly. He was surprised to calculate that his baseline of drinking water is almost 3 Liter a day. He stops taking painkillers as they increase the burden on the liver. He reduces the intake of caffeine and alcohol, and notice that he starts sleeping a lot better.
He also learned proper mobility work  for the shoulder, working with a foam roller and lacrosse ball for 10-15 minutes a day, to speed up the recovery. With a few complimentary deep tissue massage session he was “as good as new” within a few months.

I hope these two examples has given you some ideas and food for thought in terms of problem solving. Making a change takes time and effort, but what could be more important in the long run, than investing in your own health?   😉

 


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Dangerous Über-Motivated New Years Resolutions

Frequently I get asked if there are particular times of the year where my work is extra busy. There sure are, and one of them is just about to come up. It is the same, year after year, and it typically starts around the third week of January and runs through February. What could be the reason for this injury season?

Maybe you think it is because of all the skiing holidays? Sure, they add up as well, but no that’s not it. It is because of all the New Years Resolutions. What do I mean by that?

Typically we completely overestimate our body’s ability to adapt to new changes when it comes to fitness. Often we are not realistic about where our current fitness level is. We tend to focus on strength and speed and forget about any other component, like the importance of flexibility, and having full range of movement. You may have been the superstar athlete back in school, and that is awesome! But, if you haven’t continuously taken care of your body during the last 10 or 20 years, you cannot expect to jump right back into your old work out routines. And if you do, you should not be surprised if (when) you get injured.

Let’s  use “Sarah” as an example of what it typically looks like. Sarah is in her late 30’s, has a desk job, used to be really sporty but has completely gotten out of her routine in the last year(s). She makes a New Years Resolution to get fit again, and to get back into a routine. She is super motivated and starts with running 5 times a week between 30-60minutes, even though she hasn’t really been running in the last year. She doesn’t warm up or cool down, because she doesn’t have time for that. Besides you get warm while running, right?! The same goes for mobility work. It’s only running, right? It’s not like she she going to do gymnastics or anything, so it cannot be that important.

Towards the end of January Sarah shows up at my practice. She tells me that she has been taking ibuprofen and that helped her through last weeks training sessions, but now it’s not enough to help her with the pain. She has low back pain, her left knee is sore when she runs and she thinks she might have heel-spurs, as her feet are painful. Upon examination it is very clear that her hipflexors, quads, and calves are super tight, and she does not have proper range of motion in several joints.

I will talk to her about the importance of slowly increasing the intensity and duration of a training program. And also the importance of a warm up, cool down, mobility work, nutrition and hydration.This typically goes in one of two ways.

#1. Sarah actually listens, makes the needed adjustments, and starts with a less intense training program after 10 days of active recovery and mobility work. She took a look at her nutrition and hydration. She added some strength training, is working on her running technique and does daily mobility work. I see Sarah about once a month for preventative work, and am happy to hear that she has registered for a half marathon in 5 months time. She is using the Nike Run App to help her prepare correctly.

Scenario #2. After the treatment Sarah feels better and decides to “test her body” on a long run to make sure everything is alright. Towards the end of the run she is in pain again. She goes to the Doctor and gets anti-inflammatory drugs and is not allowed to run for at least 14 days. On the 15th day she goes out to “test her body” again, but is not able to finish her run as the pain is back. She goes back to the Doctor, who gives her another round of anti-inflammatory drugs, and says that if this continues she will need injections and potentially surgery. After a few weeks on this roller coaster Sarah gives up on sports and concludes that she is just too old, unlucky, and there is nothing she can do about it.

This is just one example, but I see it all the time. We all think that we are immune to injury until it happens to us. This year, why not be smart about your New Years Resolutions. Get yourself a good coach who can help you, or use Apps like Nike Run and Nike Training to help you out at YOUR CURRENT level. Be honest with yourself here! Make a plan for the long run and slowly increase your training. Make sure that you add all the other components to being a great athlete, like warming up, mobility, hydration etc. Be kind to your body and give it a chance to adapt.

If you are interested in some serious goal setting, then check out this video with Coach Ben Bergeron.

 

I wish you all an excellent start to the New Year 😉

 


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A Hamstring Quickie – Test, Smash and Stretch

It is winter time and for most of us that means a lot more time spent indoors. That usually means that we are sitting a lot more, and moving less. This can lead to tight hamstrings, which in turn can lead to back pain. Christmas also brings along a lot of traveling for plenty of people, so now is a good time to start some prevention work. Especially if you have a ski holiday coming up. Here are three very short videos on how you can test, smash and stretch your hamstrings. Your hamstring is a common name which includes these three muscles m.semimenbranosus, m.semitendinosus and m.biceps femoris.

What to think about when you do the hamstring test:
The leg that is on the ground should stay straight and in contact with the floor the whole time. The leg you are raising up should be straight at all times, no bending of the knee. When things are good you should get to at least 90 degrees without any problem. If not you have got some work to do.
Is there a big difference in flexibility in the two legs? Make sure you put in some extra work on the side that is less flexible. Asymmetry is harder for the body to deal with, as the side that moves a bit better has to compensate for the side that does not move well. The guys from MoveU are a little bit crazy, but they are energetic and to the point, and that I like!
*Unfortunately the videos from MoveU are currently not available on YouTube. I have added three different ones instead. As soon as the original ones are back I will post them here.

 

What to think about when you smash the hamstring:
The automatic reaction from the muscles when you try this is usually to tense up a bit. Therefore you may not “feel any tightness” right away. If this is so, take a couple of deep breaths and really let your leg sink into the ball. Once a bit more relaxed, start moving the leg in search of those tight spots. If you find yourself tensing up again, just go back to taking a few deep breaths, and then try again.

 

What to think about when you stretch the hamstring:
Try to keep the movement dynamic. Meaning, slowly move the leg from one position to the next (bend and straight the leg). From my experience the body seems to adapt quicker when we do it this way, and there is a lesser chance of overdoing it, rather than just holding a static stretch and pulling on the muscle.

Finish with a re-test to make sure that you did a good job, and have improved the flexibility of your hamstrings. If you do not have someone who can help measure your improvement, putting up some temporary marks on the wall with tape, can be a great visual.

If you are a runner, or on your way to your ski holiday, it is extra important to pay attention to a proper warm-up. Going straight from sitting into doing sports in cold weather will take a lot of extra effort from your body. This can be a killer for already tight hamstrings, as it takes longer for the body to heat up. A good warm up will significantly decrease your chances of getting injured. Here is a reminder of what a quick, good warm-up looks like.

Take care of your hamstrings, and they will take care of you.
Enjoy your weekend! 😉

 



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