Category Archives: Recovery

Surgery ahead? You need a strong strategy!

Recently a couple of my friends have been needing surgery. One had torn ligaments in her knee, another one had a damaged disc in the lower back, and the third one crashed on his bike and broke his collarbone. This brought upon a discussion of “can you do anything to make things easier before and after having surgery?”  Well, YES!

Anytime you need surgery, whether you are having a smaller problem dealt with, like dental surgery, or something larger like a knee replacement, preparing the body for what is about to come will have a huge impact on your recovery.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
-Benjamin Franklin

No matter how good the surgeon is, having surgery will always be a very traumatic and unnatural event for the body. This is not the time to slack off, lying on the couch all day, feeling sorry for oneself and eating crappy food. Think of this as your mini Olympics. The stronger and better prepared you are for the event, the better you will do.

 

MobilityWOD has done a really cool and easy to follow infographic on the subject. I strongly suggest you check it out, and also, why not share it with your friends. You never know when you might need it.

Of course, you never plan to have an accident. Especially not one that requires surgery. In this case you probably will not have any time to prepare for the surgery. However, you can still do the most with your rehab, post surgery. MobilityWOD has another great infographic for that as well. You can check it out here.

Another thing to keep in mind (see what I did there) that is very powerful, is using visualization or meditation. Do not underestimate the power of your mind. Think about what you want to happen, and visualize a great result. Do this preferably in short increments during many times of the day, to set the stage for the outcome that you want. If you are not familiar with any of these techniques, I think the app Headspace is a great way to start. You can read more about it here.

I hope you will not need any of these strategies, but that you will find them useful in case you ever do.
Take care of yourselves, and have a great weekend!

😉

 

 

 



https://www.mobilitywod.com/infographic/presurgery_checklist/
https://www.mobilitywod.com/infographic/surgery-rehab-checklist/

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?   😉

 


Photo by Form on Unsplash
Photo by Frame Kings on Unsplash
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Don’t kill an ant with an atom bomb!

Rather than just doing even more of the same, maybe it’s time to rethink your strategy?!
The way I see it, the origin* of your pain can be located either externally (think muscles and ligaments) or it can be internally (think organ, organ-systems and nerves), even though the symptoms look the same, like back pain.

It is important to know where the origin of your pain is, because how you go about treating the problem should be different depending on what most likely caused it.

How to tell the difference?
Let’s say you overdid it in your last work out session with 100 pushups. Or maybe you spent the whole day digging in the garden. The next day you will have a hard time getting out of bed, your back hurts and you are in agony.

If this is an external problem (muscles, ligaments) you will feel better if you go into the sauna, take a hot bath, get some massage, and do some mobility work. You may not feel back to awesome the first couple of days, and even though your recovery is not a straight line at 45 degrees on the graph, you are constantly and consistently improving. Like on graph 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graph 2 on the other hand represents more of an internal problem. You think it is an external problem because your back hurts, so you treat it just like in the example above with a hot bath, sauna, massage, mobility work etc.

But, you don’t get much relief. Maybe it feels a bit better for a day or two, or maybe even a week, but then you are right back where you started. This is when you need to ask yourself how is my digestive system really working? How are my kidneys and liver doing? What can I do to help my digestive system and organs?

Did you know that:
   Constipation can cause low back pain and often a deep pain into the hip.
   If you are dehydrated your kidneys don't like it and you could feel tenderness and pain in your low back.
   An overwhelmed liver will indirectly cause pain in your right shoulder.
   Tired kidneys will refer pain to the area of your shoulders and neck.
   Any kind of digestive issue can also cause neck pain via the X cranial nerve, aka the Vagus nerve.
   The pancreas, our super hero of blood sugar regulation will refer pain in between the shoulder blades.

 

If you have already seen a couple of different physios, and a chiropractor, and so on and it doesn’t seem to have helped, finding yet one more will not “fix it”. By now you should have gathered that their working tools are not suited for your particular issue.

If you have had your problems for a longer period of time, and you cannot solve them with your usual methods, it’s time to be smart and start looking at the functions inside the body. Take responsibility for your own health, get involved in the solution, and figure out what you can do daily to help yourself.

Next week we’ll discuss this further by looking at two different case studies.

Don’t kill an ant with an atom bomb. Think more like a ninja, and make a better targeted effort instead.   😉

 



*The origin of your pain does not have to be (and seldom are) where you feel the pain, which is the symptom. If you only put band aids on the symptom but never look for the root cause (the origin) you might never solve the problem at hand. Assuming you didn’t just break your leg in an accident, then of course your pain is where the problem is!
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Photo by ARTHUR YAO on Unsplash

Track Your Drinking Habits With This App

If you have read some of my earlier posts you will know by now the importance that I put on drinking water and being properly hydrated. Some of the feedback that I get when I talk to friends and clients about this, is that it is hard to keep track on just how much water and other liquids that you are drinking during a whole day. This is especially true for when you are traveling as you tend to be out of your own rhythm, and not necessarily in charge of the daily schedule.

Early Signs of Dehydration:
Cravings, Cramps, Anxiety, Fatigue, Irritability, Depression, Headaches

Rather than scribbling down how much you drink on a piece of paper, only to forget the paper somewhere, I thought to myself – there is probably an App to deal with that. Indeed. There are plenty of Apps out there to help you to keep track of your drinking habits. I tried out this one simply called “Water Drink Reminder”.

It is not perfect, but I really do like it, especially when traveling. The app gives you a daily number of how much water to drink, based on your weight. It does not add more water to your total if you drink a coffee, which I think it should, but you can adjust for this manually, so that’s OK. You can also customize what types of drinks you usually have, making the tracking swift and easy.

Mature Signs of Dehydration:
Migraines, Back pain, Joint pain, Heartburn, Fibromyalgia, Colitis, Constipation

I think that this App is a great tool, especially when trying to build new habits. Seeing in pictures what you drank, when and how much, really gives you a very clear idea of what is going on. The App is free, so why not go ahead and try it? Ask yourself, -are my drinking habits really as good/bad as I think they are?

Once you see what’s going on during a whole day, it’s much easier to see where your weakness is. Then you can figure out a plan of how to improve, and work on that until you’ve created a new habit. Do you already have a favorite drinking tracking App? Let me know what it is, I would love to try it out.

I wish you all a great start to your weekend, and keep up the good work on staying properly hydrated, day by day ;)

Your Body’s Many Cries For Water by F. Batmanghelidj

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

Ready to detox? Let’s prepare first.

So you feel a bit guilty about having over indulged on food and drinks in the last few weeks. You have decided to jump into a detox program to give your body a break. That can both be good and bad, depending on your current health and energy. Jumping into the deep end of a detox from a state of overindulging, can be very hard for your body. Therefore it is better to prepare the body first before starting a detox.

In essence, you want to stop putting junk into your body, and you want to help the body to get rid of the junk that is already there. The main key organ working in detoxing is the liver.

With stop putting junk into your body, I mean limit as much as possible or avoid completely processed foods, fried processed foods, hydrogenated oils, sugar, cigarettes, snus, aspirin and ibuprofen (unless prescribed by Dr.), all alcohol, and caffeine. Why is caffeine included? Because the liver has to break down caffeine before it can leave the body, and that adds another burden to the liver. We want to leave the liver as much energy as possible for detoxing. I would also exclude dairy, unless it is a fermented, probiotic product, like kefir and natural yogurt without added sugar.

You can help the body with giving it good nutrients, so that it has all the building blocks that it needs to break down all the junk and get rid of it. Did you know that you need 42 molecules of magnesium in order to help break down 1 molecule of sugar in the liver…wow!(1)

It is easy to give he body what it needs by eating an organic nutrient dense whole food diet. The liver needs plenty of protein to do its job, so do your best to eat good quality, organic protein that you can get your hands on, at this time. Make sure that you are properly hydrated as well. If not, your body will have a much harder time getting the toxins out of your body, and you will feel a lot worse during this time.

So what are some of the type of toxins that we are trying to get rid of? We get toxins accumulating in our bodies from air and water pollution, radiation, chemicals, stress, cellular/metabolic wastes, poorly digested foods, heavy metal exposure, bacterial/parasitic/fungal overgrowth. Drugs, food additives and allergens can also cause toxic elements in the body. Basically, any substance that creates irritating and/or harmful effects in the body is a toxin.

Going to the sauna, taking an epsom salt bath, and getting a deep tissue massage are also things that you can do to help your body detoxify. Adding movement into your day is also a great idea. Your lymphatic system works like a “pre-filter” for the liver, but it is a passive system. That means you have to move in order to move fluid through it. Optimal would be to jump on a rebounder every day. It does not have to be heavy exercise though, any kind of movement will help. This is also a reason why it is helpful to work at a standing desk opposed to a sitting one.

Remember, these are what some of the healing reactions may look like. I would say, the stronger you feel that these reactions are, the longer you need to stay on the preparation phase, before going into a full detox. Fatigue, headaches, bad smelling body odor, sleeping problems, bad breath, itchy skin and irritability.

Depending on your current and recent lifestyle, you might want to stay on the preparation detox schedule from anything for a week to  quite a few. Also, some people might opt for just doing the preparation phase for a while without detoxing, and that is fine too. You will do your body a lot of good by just sticking to the preparation phase. If you want to learn more there are plenty of books out there that can help you further. I like the 7-Day Detox Miracle by Bennet, Barrie and Faye.

Good preparation is key, so stay with it, and let the body adjust with time 😉

 


(1) Lecture on detox, Nutritional Therapy Association

7-Day Detox Miracle by Bennet, Barrie and Faye

Photo by  Alexandra GornBrooke Lark, Tim Mossholder, and Asdrubal Iuna on Unsplash

Feeling worse with a detox? It’s a healing reaction

December is typically a month of over indulgence in terms of food and drinks. A common reaction to this, or New Years Resolution, is to have a couple of weeks of “clean” eating. Some may even go a bit further and decide to do a detox program.

The body feels and perform its best when it’s in balance. After the holiday season you may feel a bit worn out from the over indulgences, which has gotten your body out of balance, and drained any extra energy. Going hardcore into a detox program from this state may work for some, but it can be a very rough ride. The change is usually to much too quickly, and I wouldn’t recommend it. It is better to prepare the body first, and start gently. Remember, with the body there are no quick fixes, rather long lasting effects of the lifestyle choices you make. The following are some indicators that your body could do with a detox.

Smelly body odor and/or breath, stinky feet, dark puffy circles under the eyes, foul smelling stool and/or urine, skin problems, acne flaring up, headaches, shoulder and neck stiffness, and pain around the lower ribs on the right side.

When you decide to give the body a break from poor habits, or do a detox, you are helping the  body to get rid of its “trash”, the toxins. It can be very smelly when deep cleaning your house, before gathering and getting rid of all the trash, and it’s the same in your body. It is good to know about some of the possible reactions that may show up. Sometimes it will get worse before it gets better.

These cleaning up reactions, aka healing reactions, will often intensify during detox and the healing process. It is because you are digging up  stored away toxins and bringing it up to the surface. You may experience flu-like symptoms, headaches, acne flaring up, diarrhea, and nausea. Knowing this in advance can make a huge difference in being able to deal with these reactions. The symptoms will go away once the body has gone through the cleaning and healing process. Depending on how well your body is doing overall, will indicate how well your body will deal with a detox.

On one side of the spectrum I know of people who have only had a slight headache for a day or two during their detox. And on the other side I know of people that got so nauseous that they had to throw up, and had to stay in bed for a couple of days.

Therefore, choose your time wisely for doing a detox program, so that you can easier navigate any healing reactions that may occur. Also, the better prepared the body is before starting a detox, the milder the reactions tend to be. I will discuss this more in next weeks post.

Don’t want to wait until next week to get started? OK, here are a few tips. Reduce as much as possible your intake of sugar, processed foods and caffeine. Completely avoid any kind of alcohol. Eat a whole food, organic, nutrient dense diet and make sure that you are well hydrated at all times.

I wish you all a clean start to this year! 😉

 


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 😉

 


Photo by Stas Ovsky on Unsplash

 

 

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! 😉

 



Photo by Osman Rana, Asogqetti and  Natia Rukhadze on Unsplash

It’s 2am. Do you know what your liver is up to?

There is a rhythm to almost everything in life, and especially in our bodies. Knowing the rhythms of certain things can give us a lot of information. If we know what to look for that is. If we look closer at Traditional Chinese Medicine we find the Organ Clock, and it can help us getting some useful information.

Although the Organ Clock is not used in western medicine, “[Joseph] Takahashi and colleagues stated in a 2013 article that “almost every cell in the body contains a circadian clock. For example, these clocks, called peripheral oscillators, have been found in the adrenal gland, oesophagus, lungs, liver, pancreas, spleen, thymus, and skin.”[1]

So, what does the Organ Clock tell us? It shows us when different organs in the body are very active. For instance, a lot of organs are doing their “house cleaning” during the night when we are asleep. It’s the only time they are not frantically trying to accommodate our demands, and so they have some time to clean house and prepare for the next day. OK, so how can this help us?

Let’s take a look at the liver. According to the Organ Clock it is the most busy during 1-3am at night. (Assuming you go to bed around 10-11pm.) If things are running smooth in the liver, you will never notice that it is working at all. However, if the liver is a bit backed up from too much stuff it has to detox, (ex:pesticides, pollution, medication, hormones, alcohol) the cleaning process will not be smooth. You might wake up during this time at night and feel very warm, and not feel very well. The liver can raise body temperature quite a bit as it is trying to burn through our garbage. Maybe you know the feeling of having been out partying and waking up really hot and sweaty in the middle of the night. It most likely is your liver trying to get rid of all that alcohol.

So, if you find yourself waking up often at the same time at night, check out what the Organ Clock says. Which organ is the most busy at that time, and how do you think this could relate to you and your lifestyle? Start taking some notes, and see what you can learn from the information gathered. It is of course no precise medicine, but I have found it a very useful indicator on many occasions.

It’s 2 am. I know what my liver is up to. Do you know what yours is up to?
😉

P.S. Also, a BIG thanks to all of you who came and listened to my talk “Walk of Health”. It was a blast! For those of you who signed up, you will have the keynotes from the talk within the next few days.

 

 

 

 


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710582/

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm

Photo by Michael Discenza, Adi Goldstein and Jan Kahánek on Unsplash 

The benefits of heat. Get in the Sauna! – Part 2.

Very recently I wrote about the benefits to the Nervous System of using the Sauna. I just came across this podcast with more reasons of why getting into the Sauna is really beneficial for you.

How about improving cardiovascular disease, or positively impacting depression for up to 6 weeks with just one sauna session? Read about that study here.

Dr. Rhonda Patrick Ph.D. who is an expert on nutritional health, brain, cancer and aging has done a podcast on the theme, and I find the information in it very interesting.  You can download it and listen to it here or watch it below.

Enjoy your weekend and hopefully a session in the Sauna 😉


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27172277
https://www.foundmyfitness.com/