FIT JOINTS Series #3

by Dr. Theresa Dobson.

PART THREE OF THE “FIT JOINTS” SERIES

Introduction: Let’s begin with your posture.

STAND YOUR GROUND!

I literally and figuratively mean that. Posture is everything. How you stand and each step you take affects every joint in your body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes and all that lies in between. And here is why.

Gravity rules!

The minute we become bi-ped gravity begins its journey of push and pull down every joint in your body. Your platform for balance is your feet. They have the task of balancing your whole body upward against gravity keeping you from toppling ove. This alone seems an amazing feat not to mention the demands that occur when you decide to engage in multiple movements that sports and life require. Your body has built in mechanisms via the nerve system and joint system to accommodate your multi-directional demands quite gracefully – if your posture is intact. When your posture breaks down, uneven loading to your joints and spine begin – and injury and pain follow close behind.

So let’s explore the mechanisms of posture.

Ground Control:

Years of experience and thousands of postural assessments lead me to your feet. They reveal the secrets to how you stack upwards. Posture begins from the ground up, but can confront major challenges in today lifestyle which continually contract you down and forward such as computers, driving, cell phones, reading etc… These all force you into a forward contracted posture giving gravity momentum creating excessive loading and compensation through and including your organ systems all the way down to your toes.

Example; a minimal forward drop of the chin 2 centimetres equates to your normal 10 -12 kilo head weight becoming 17+ kilos (this commonly occurs while sitting at a computer). To ensure you don’t fall over with this additional load, the neck, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and feet all compensate and counterbalance this extra load. The longer the head maintains forward load, the harder the muscles and joints have to strain to maintain.

What a waste of energy!

Most jobs and sports require imbalanced loading to one side of your body making proper posture complicated and stressful to your whole system. Simple postural exercises can prepare your body to deal with these stresses and restack you evenly. Get your postural assessments from a professional and the rewards and benefits will last a lifetime.

Fact:

The foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles. WOW that is impressive! The toughest strongest and largest tendon in the foot is the Achilles, making it the longest and toughest to heal after injury. Those who have experienced this know it’s a big “Boo Hoo”! There are 125,000 sweat glands in each foot – yikes! So let those puppies breath!

Joint of The Month: The Foot / Ankle

The most frequently injured joint from sport is the ankle. The most common ankle injury occurs as the outside edge of the foot rolls over itself, lifting the arch of the foot and in turn tearing and damaging the outer ligaments.

Reoccurrence of foot and ankle injury is very high! Your feet must be rehabilitated properly to prevent this.

Create happy feet and prevent or rehab injury by training and stretching your feet in multiple directions and movement patterns. Yoga is great for this. Pick tramps with undulating terrain which challenge all angles.

The beach is also ideal. Kick off those boring shoes and do ABC’s in the sand (alternating heels and toes). Twirl and twist your feet in the sand – and give them a natural foot massage!

Dropped arches are a red flag to get yourself to a podiatrist where shoe inserts will assist.

On The Need to Know List:

“The World is Flat”. At least that is how your feet would interpret the western world of today – “A Flat Concrete Jungle!”

The amazing blueprint of your feet is designed for the ability to traverse across uneven terrain, stones, boulders and steep hills whilst keeping you stable and mobile. Today’s flat shoes and flat concrete jungle offer no challenge to the unique abilities of the feet and their intricate design.

The once “happy to meet a challenge” feet have now become lazy, collapsed, sore feet. When you take them for a walk, run or sporting event that slightly veers from flat you quickly find yourself with an injury.

So be kind to your feet and be playful with your feet  – because they have the big journey called “Your Life” to carry you through!

Fusion:

Sport offers you the gift of “complete presence” therein lies its sweet addiction and soul satisfaction. Your body gets to engage in the timeless space called “The Now” free of life’s tangles. Don’t let your busy calculating mind impose itself! Direct your mind as the tool in your sport, and let your body becomes the sport.

Next month’s FIT JOINT Series article will focus on the Hip.

Dr. Theresa Dobson

Doctor of Chiropractric, Neck Specialist, Neuromuscular Therapist, Biokinetics Practitioner, CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level II, Sports-Specific Practitioner and Seminar Presenter, Dr. Theresa Dobson has a long-standing rep utation as a highly experienced and knowledgeable practitioner. With two clinics located in Auckland and on the North Shore, Theresa works with a wide spectrum of patients such as professional rugby players, boxers, surfers, yachtsmen, cyclists, motor racers, soccer players, as well as recreational sportsmen and women of all age groups. Theresa is currently setting up a new business, guiding people through the “Dos and Don’ts” of surgery, offering programs and seminars to advise patients how to manage their pain effectively.
www.activecare.co.nz         www.stitchedup.co.nz
Theresa Dobson welcomes your emails at info@activecare.co.nz

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Energy…Give Me More!

By Michelle Owen.

We all want to have abundant energy to get us through the work day…and still have more to go to dance the night away!

This is one of the most common things that people want when they come and see me – more energy.

As C,H.E.K Practitioners, we never treat the disease that has the person – we only treat the person that has the disease. So for those suffering from lack of energy and its consequent disease, we teach how to embrace the Six Foundation Principles. These are:

THOUGHT,  BREATH,  HYDRATION,  NUTRITION,  EXERCISE   and   SLEEP.

As far as energy goes, I have written many things on the importance of breathing correctly, hydration, quality of food, postural balance, exercise and sleep.

This time I am focusing on thought.

Thought triggers emotions. Every thought we have has a corresponding emotion, and every emotion has a hormonal and energetic reaction within our body. Hence our Psychology is our Biology.

Thought always comes first and the thought creates the emotion. For instance, if the thought is: “I don’t like my job” or, “Nobody loves me” these thoughts can cause us to feel very unhappy. Consequently our energy levels fall. The same goes for other life situations such as relationships; self image; financial status etc.

Poor thinking pumps stress hormones into our body. Over time this causes hormonal imbalances, leading to decreased energy and disease. Too much stress or poor thought of any sort will weaken the immune system, no doubt about it!

When we create what we don’t want, our energy decreases.

When we create what we do want, our energy increases.

When we are in tune with what we really want, we never run out of energy!


We are all given the same amount of life force. If people are sick or tired they still have the same amount of life force, they are just channeling their energy differently. Creating new and positive thought is the most powerful way out of this.

Pain of any sort, physical or emotional, is the compass of our soul. These experiences help to push us to make better choices to get to our higher self. The more the pain, the more we are out of alignment with who we really are.

For some people, injury or illness can be one of the most valuable things in life, maybe not in the moment, but the learning from the experience because it can be so life changing! It can lead to greater knowledge of themselves, greater health, love and appreciation of all they have in life. Quite often it is only on their death bed that people’s appreciation for life is amplified.

Wouldn’t it be far better to reach this appreciation while they are in fully involved in life?

Give yourself some energy

Energy is like money in the bank – What are you doing to put it back? Or are you spending it all?

A lot of my clients are so busy; they squeeze things into every moment of the weekday and their weekend! This is great for productivity, but we all need to stop and refuel at certain times. Running on the fast track without rest and recovery soon leads to decreased energy, depression, anxiety, long term adrenal exhaustion, and burn out.

There are many different ways we can give energy back to ourselves (get the money in the bank). For instance:

  • Meditation
  • Hot baths or spa pools with oils and candles
  • Saunas
  • Good quality food in the right balance for your metabolic type
  • Deep breathing
  • Any time spent in nature
  • Time with animals
  • Time with good friends/family/people that give you peace
  • Massage
  • Soul healing work
  • Pedicures/manicure/facials
  • Nice energy music, movies or reading
  • Good quality exercise
  • Low level exercise like stretching, mobilizations, tai chi etc.
  • Getting to bed before 10pm.
  • Having afternoon naps

Give to yourself often, even if it is small. If you spend all your energy without giving back, you will end up emotionally and physically bankrupt.

The importance of clearing past traumas

The human mind is an endlessly complex creation made up of the conscious/subconscious or active/reactive mind.

The subconscious or reactive mind stores every picture of our past, good or bad. This includes sight, sound, smells etc.

The reactive mind is so strong that in times of stress it takes over our conscious mind and can put us back into the feelings of past experiences. This can cause all sorts of pain physically and emotionally. It also keeps us stuck in feelings of loss, fear, anger; an endless list of negative emotions.

I believe that one of the most powerful things we can do to recreate health in mind, body, and soul is to get professional help in clearing past traumas/ experience that keep us stuck in poor patterns, repeating the same cycles. A professional will guide you along the path that best suits you, for many such paths exist. I have tried several and continue to do so. All are very powerful and each person will find a different one that works for them.

To me they are all different roads to the same outcome of cleaning up rubbish in our minds.

Michelle Owen
Michelle is a C.H.E.K Practitioner Level 3 and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 3. With a successful studio in Auckland, New Zealand, Michelle works as a Postural and Wellness Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Practitioner. She also offers onsite Corporate Wellness Seminars and has spoken for a number of corporate companies including Hyatt Regency, Kensington Swan and ANZ Bank. As a Key Note Speaker, Michelle is passionate about bringing the CHEK principles to people everywhere.
www.michelleowen.co.nz
www.stitchedup.co.nz

FIT JOINTS Series #1: Atlas “The Master Control Centre”

Introducing a new contributor to the HQH Fitness blog – Dr. Theresa Dobson.

PART ONE OF THE “FIT JOINTS” SERIES

Introduction

Let’s have a look under your skin. OOOUCH!!!

No doubt you have spoken that profound word (amongst others) when you have engaged in the journey of a joint injury. Most of us have and this is not surprising considering life in the 2011’s requires most of us to be endurance athletes in and out of our work environment:

We wake to an alarm, toes to carpet and we’re off rushing in to the new day.

Combine that with the fact that most sports, jobs and hobbies (both recreational and professional) require that we use our bodies in very imbalanced and repetitive movement patterns…and our bodies will be sure to remind us of it at the end of each day!

Years of experience as a Chiropractor, Sports Practitioner, and having the delightful challenge of working with professional athletes, coaches and trainers in the full spectrum of sports has taught me that most joint injuries occur within a very small range within the joint – generally when a joint is taken past its normal end range of motion to the minute amount of 0-4 degrees.

Indeed this sounds quite ridiculous!

However, when you understand the intimate relationship of the body’s “playful threesome”:

Tendons + Ligaments + Muscle

which make up the basic foundation for joint movement, you too will become intrigued at the intimacy of this relationship.

So…lets take a peak beneath our skin!

FACT: There are 206 bones in the human body (note that this number will vary slightly for those special genetic off throws). In order for these eager bones to move and perform for us, they require the assistance of the “playful threesome”.  This threesome literally become the pulley and lever system for the bones. Quite honestly it is like a game of puppetry. Without this pulley and lever system we wouldn’t be much more mobile or interesting than a sea slug!

Here is a user friendly version of the threesome:

  • Ligaments are strong fibres (like thick fishing lines) binding bone to bone, allowing and limiting motion and providing attachment sites for muscle tendons.
  • Tendons are fibrous tissue (again like fishing lines) connecting muscles to bones.
  • Muscles are tissue made up of contractile fibres ( like elastic bands) that effect and create movement of bones.

So in short, as the muscle contracts, it shortens. With support of the tendon attachment to the bone it levers the bones in different directions depending on the joint type and shape. Ligaments secure, protect and hold bones together. This “threesome” allow our body’s the joy of movement!

So to keep a joint fit and healthy, we must keep it within the range of motion dictated by the joint shape and function as well as the ligament’s protective grip.

Joint Injuries in Relation to Sports:

Most sports force imbalanced muscle demands, demands which twist us one direction, loading one side of our joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. This creates uneven contracted strong muscles on one side and weak, loose muscles on the other, in turn putting tremendous stress across the joint which ripens it for injury.

Then an athlete takes this stressed joint out to play and the slightest 0-4 degrees of unfamiliar movement or impact punishes the joint or muscle. In turn this angry joint punishes you!

A postural / length tension assessment can reveal and correct imbalances, but should be done by a qualified practitioner.

Not so FAQ’s…but on the “need to know” list:

Muscles heal quicker than tendons/ ligaments as they hog large amounts of blood (which contains the jewels of healing), whereas ligaments/tendons get very little blood and heal slowly (Zen patience required!).

JOINT OF THE MONTH:

This month I will address the most important joint – the top of the spine is top on my list.

“The Master Control Centre” – C1 (Atlas Vertebra).

Located just behind your earlobe, your atlas is a 2-ounce bone at the top of your neck that is responsible for supporting the weight of your head – which can weigh between 9 and 17 pounds! Not only is the atlas the first bone in your neck, but it is the foundation of your head and centre of balance of your body.

The atlas surrounds and protects the upper spinal cord and brain stem region, and houses over three trillion of your nerve fibres that live feed ingoing/outgoing data from your brain to your whole body.

It is critical for an athlete to have this checked, as a misaligned atlas can affect reaction time, balance, speed, recovery, sleep, immune system, and peripheral vision – just to name a few.

Did you know:

Your atlas can be misaligned via impact, muscle imbalance, repetitive movements and stress. And in most cases you won’t even realise!

What exactly is a “misaligned atlas”?

A misaligned atlas is essentially “vertebral subluxation”, where the head is not quite centred. And when your head is not sitting level over your atlas vertebra, your whole body can twist off centre. Essentially this creates a “domino effect” due to the pressure at the brain stem affecting your whole nerve system that feeds information to every part of your body On an x-ray, it simply looks like the head is at an angle to the base of the neck. In some cases it can be incredibly subtle, in others more extreme.

Side effects:

A misaligned atlas can result in tight neck muscles, neck pain, organ and joint dysfunction and the common headache. In some cases it can refer down the spine and result in lower back pain or other injuries or symptoms.

How can you tell if an Atlas is misaligned?

As a chiropractor, I studied the Atlas-Axis complex for four years – there’s much more to it than you may realise! Through specific tests, touch and observation I can tell immediately. However most people don’t have the luxury to spend four years on this one area!

Practitioners may use X-Rays as well as tests to observe the feet – looking at leg-length discrepancies. Others may be able to observe that simply by doing a postural assessment. A C.H.E.K Practitioner learns two key tests that can indicate if an Atlas is misaligned – one is a marching test, and the second is using two weight scales and identifying a weight shift. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend you seek out a C.H.E.K Practitioner or look into the CHEK program for further study.

How to fix it:

Atlas correction is a passive avenue to gain huge sporting advantages. However it is a very specialized field, so you will always need to go to – or refer your client to – a specialist in this area. Important note: Always be very aware of the specialist you use or refer to, because a simple “neck crack” does not always suffice! Often neck adjustments performed in this manner do not target the specific area of the joint that needs adjusting. There is a reason I spent four years studying this one area, and that is because it is incredibly complex. Rather than a generic approach, my method is to make small and specific adjustments in the area required, to ensure that my patient’s specific needs are addressed. I recommend you seek out someone who does the same if you suspect an atlas problem in the spine.

Next month’s FIT JOINT Series article will focus on the Knee.

Dr. Theresa Dobson

Doctor of Chiropractric, Neck Specialist, Neuromuscular Therapist, Biokinetics Practitioner, CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level II, Sports-Specific Practitioner and Seminar Presenter, Dr. Theresa Dobson has a long-standing rep utation as a highly experienced and knowledgeable practitioner. With two clinics located in Auckland and on the North Shore, Theresa works with a wide spectrum of patients such as professional rugby players, boxers, surfers, yachtsmen, cyclists, motor racers, soccer players, as well as recreational sportsmen and women of all age groups. Theresa is currently setting up a new business, guiding people through the “Dos and Don’ts” of surgery, offering programs and seminars to advise patients how to manage their pain effectively.
www.activecare.co.nz         www.stitchedup.co.nz
Theresa Dobson welcomes your emails at info@activecare.co.nz

Understanding the Principles of Functional Training

‘Functional Training’ is a term that has been used dare I say it “loosely” within our industry over the last few years.

So what does the term ‘Functional Training’ really mean?

What I will aim to do in this article is to give you an overview of some of the principles of functional training and how you can apply those principles to improve client performance through exercise prescription.

Let’s first take a look at some of the definitions of functional movement:

  • An exercise continuum involving balance and proprioception, performed with the feet on the ground and without machine assistance, such that strength is displayed in unstable conditions and body weight is managed in all movement planes.
  • Multi-joint, multi-planar, proprioceptively enriched activity that involves deceleration (force reduction), acceleration (force production) and stabilisation; controlled ammounts of instability; and management of gravity, ground reaction forces and momentum.
  • A spectrum of activities that condition the body consistent with its integrated movement/use.

All of these definitons authentically state what functional movement is, but with the growth of new trends within the health and fitness industry we tend to lose site of the application of some of these principles.

To keep things simple, I propose an alternative definition:

Functional Training involves movements which are specific to the task or purpose within a person/s activities of daily living.

Conditioned Athlete vs. Non-Conditioned Athlete

There seems to be a belief that sports activities differ from active daily living and that we should train our conditioned athletes one way and our non-conditioned athletes another way. While this is typically true in terms of power and performance, both activities share some basic features:

  • They involve skillful application of ground reaction forces.
  • Forces are transmitted through the body through a chain reaction.
  • Tasks are performed in 3 dimensional planes of motion.
  • In order to achieve balance and skills needed to perform these tasks, we regularly get into certain postions. As these tasks are performed more reguarly, motor programs and functional adaptions are reinforced.

For these reasons it’s helpful to re-think the traditional distinction between athletic and non-athlethic activities.

Therefore when designing a program we can look at the fundamentals of the type of activity which is being performed by either the conditioned athlete or the non-conditioned athlete. Then we can then determine the role ‘functional training’ will play in either the enhancement of performance or is helpful in improving the overhall quality of life.

Principles of Function

Principle 1 

Function is 3 Dimensional and includes all three planes of movement:

  • Sagittal: Front to Back
  • Frontal: side to side
  • Transverse: Rotational

Principle 2

The physical forces that the body has to contend with are:

  • Gravity
  • Ground Reaction Forces
  • Momentum

Principle 3

Movement is Driven

  • Drivers of the body

Note: For example we would classify the foot as the driver during an anterior balance reach with the foot reaching towards the specified target.

Principle 4

  • Chain Reaction

As 3D movement includes the whole body and involves multiple joints, we must therefore assume that there will be a chain reaction created throughout the body as we deal with the physical forces.

Applying these Principles of Functional Training

As trainers we all have an understanding of exercise prescription and an abundance of different exercises to choose from in our forever expanding tool bag.

However we must understand that it is not the exercise that will determine the success of the movement – it is the movement that will determine the success of our exercise prescription.

I often see clients that have come to me for post-rehabilitation after several weeks of working with a health professional during the acute phase of injury. These clients have mostly had a reduction in pain and are therefore ready to engage in a post-rehabilitative exercise program.

After an initial subjective summary we start to build a picture of the client’s functional health and activity history. An example of this would be a client who sprained their left ankle 6 months ago and received no treatment for that injury. A great one to remember for later on, whilst performing the client’s functional assessment.

A typical functional assessment would include:

  • Gait evaluation
  • Balance Reach
  • Lunge
  • Excursion Tests
  • Other Tests

Staying within our principles of function, let’s take a look at the balance reach assessment.

For example:

Observing the Sagittal Plane Balance Reach

We direct our client to reach their right leg anteriorly and posteriorly at a verticality of ground and at a distance of mid range.

Results

Interestingly during our observation our client shows a limitation in dorsi-flexion through the left ankle complex when reaching the right leg anteriorly.

Exercise Prescription

On completion of our functional evaluation we can review our subjective summary and observation of functional movement before we determine our exercise prescription. The great thing about a functional assessment is that some of the exercises that we use to assess our clients may be also prescribed in our exercise selection.

For example

Balance Reach Observation

Our observation in the sagital plane showed a degree of limitation in dorsiflexion in the left ankle on a anterior reach with the foot as the driver.

Corrective Exercise selection

Balance Reach – Frontal Plane

Frontal plane reach with foot driver working within the ‘threshold of success’ – same exercise selection but alternative plane selected to work on improving the mobility of the ankle complex.

Conclusion

Observing our client’s movement in all three planes of motion may help us to identify a series of limitations in their functional capabilities.

Clients learn new skills in stages so it is important to work with our clients within the ‘threshold of success’. It is important to recognise these stages and to prescribe your exercises accordingly.

Mistakes play an important role in how we learn, as long as we are adhering to the main principles of function and our mistakes are minimal. The trainer must be able to identify those mistakes and be able to provide a solution to enhance our client’s functional capabilities.

References:

  • Mentoring Workshop 2011 Dirk Crafford Orthopaedic Rehab and Performance Consultant and Founder of Functional Health Fitness
  • Santanaj.c. (2000) Functional Training Boca Raton FL: Optimal performance systems

Dean Quirke
Master Dip. Fitness Testing & Sports Therapy, Dip. Exercise Science, BWLA Weight Lifting Coach, Advanced Strength Training AGSHSS Corrective Exercise Level 2, AGSHSS Pre & Post Natal Exercise, AGSHSS Myofascial Trigger Point Release Therapy, CHEK Exercise Coach,NLP & Transformational Coach, GRAVITYPost-rehab Trainer. Dean specialises in corrective exercise, injury prevention, weight management and special populations. Based out of Sydney, Dean’s passions lie within movement and rehabilitation. This has led him on an incredible journey of self discovery and education. Dean believes there is a great need and a requirement to be open-minded and adaptable in order to be successful in this field.
www.holistichealthconcepts.com
Ph: 04 3144 1213  or   Mob: 0431 441 213
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw


Posture and Pain

By Michelle Owen.

The Impact of Forward Head Posture.

Other than acute injury or trauma, most of the mild discomfort or chronic pain felt in the neck, shoulders and back are contributed by adopting poor posture. This adoption of poor posture can start in our early childhood years and progressively develop over time into pain, discomfort and for some, debilitating illness.

In Fig 1 (right) we see on the left good posture – where the line running through the ear, middle of the shoulder (as well as the hip and ankle if they were in view).

On the right however, we see that the head has migrated forward and the ear lobe does not line up.

Every inch your head is forward in posture, you are adding the additional weight of your head.

If your head posture is 3 inches forward from the correct position you will have added 3 times the normal weight, which is an additional 10 to 15 kg of load on the spinal column where the head and neck joins the back (Fig 1 No 1 & 2).

The effects are never felt immediately as neck and back problems develop over time and can start from a very early age, for example from poor sitting posture at school or carrying heavy back packs.

As a result of having a forward head posture and rounded shoulders, (Fig 1 No 3) the angle of the first rib gets depressed. The result of this is that major organs in your body will become compressed and not be able to sit in their proper location and position. This restricts them from proper healthy function and adds additional and unnecessary stress to your body. It will also affect your overall wellness, vitality and quality of life.

Quite often people will develop a fatty tissue deposit called a Dowager’s Hump located where the neck meets the upper spine, as the body attempts to stabilise the additional head weight. There is also a huge pressure exerted on the spinal cord (Fig 1 No 2). Its ability to carry messages and feelings is restricted and impaired to the point where we suffer severe problems.

Other examples of areas affected by poor posture are poor lymphatic drainage and poor circulation throughout your body – the pump system including the heart, diaphragm etc.

The spine also houses the spinal cord, which is an intricate sensory network that runs through the vertebrae to transmit feeling and movement commands from the brain throughout the entire body.

When posture is poor we are putting pressure on the whole nervous system and this is extremely draining to our daily energy and vitality.

Correcting Poor Posture

If you have forward head posture you will most likely have other related issues that also need to be addressed. The only way to correct poor posture is to treat the body as a whole.

As a C.H.E.K. Practitioner Level 3, I will begin with a comprehensive in-depth Postural and Orthopedic Analysis. From this assessment I can determine which muscles are tight, weak or long.

Once a program has been designed to correct the imbalances in the body that are causing the discomfort or pain, the client begins to learn a specific stretching plan to stretch “the tight muscles only”. Upon mastering this we would move along to stabilise the spine and the weak muscles throughout the body that we found during the assessment.

From there we move into functional movement patterns that we do on a daily basis, to strengthen the body as a whole. This becomes the base of the strength and conditioning program to move the client into other goals that they may want to achieve. These may include things such as body fat loss, muscle shape/tone, and strength for home, work or sports.

Our body is just like a car. We can be a vintage in great condition or a new model all beaten up and not running well. Age does not have to determine our condition.

If you have mild discomfort now, it will not correct itself, it will only amplify as time goes on.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure!

Footnote

If you have imbalance in your body and you do a balanced fitness programme you will have no chance to correct the imbalance. Fixing muscle imbalance is very individualised. Your body needs to be coached out of imbalance through specific exercise as well as a re-education process that addresses every other area of your life, e.g. sitting, walking, lifting, working positions etc. This is done at a neural, (brain) level. We have to re-educate the way that we think about our posture.

Also, you could have the best exercise program in the world but if you did not apply the six foundation principles you may not have the ability to recover and repair. Using the 6 Life Principles we can support the postural correction with improvements in our overall wellness. For more on the 6 Life Principles visit www.michelleowen.co.nz

A Note from Michelle.

In this article you have read about the impact of poor head posture and the effect this has on our whole body. It is
imperative to point out that any poor posture in any part of our bodies impacts on the rest of our body. I am using Forward Head Posture as an example and it is only one common postural dysfunction that isrequired to be treated in many people.

Information resourced from “C.H.E.K Practitioner Level 3 manual” from Paul Chek and the C.H.E.K Institute.

Michelle Owen
Michelle is a C.H.E.K Practitioner Level 3 and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 3. With a successful studio in Auckland, New Zealand, Michelle works as a Postural and Wellness Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Practitioner. She also offers onsite Corporate Wellness Seminars and has spoken for a number of corporate companies including Hyatt Regency, Kensington Swan and ANZ Bank. As a Key Note Speaker, Michelle is passionate about bringing the CHEK principles to people everywhere.

www.michelleowen.co.nz

3D Functional Strategies for Improving Movement

By Dean Quirke

As a trainer your aim is to fulfil the needs of your client through correct exercise perscription and guidance, that will help you to enhance their movement and overall function.

This article is designed to help you to identify some of the movement challenges presented to you by your clients and to give you some creative tools and strategies for developing a correct and safe training plan.

Identifying Movement Limitations through Screening

Prior to starting a personal training session with a client, it is important to observe and assess any movement limitations that they may have.

Developing a systematic approach to screening clients through movement and determining the limitations that a specific joint complex may have in relation to the acceptable ranges, will help to create a corective strategy and training plan.

Understanding How We Move

Interestingly we may refer to a client’s movement goals, exercise history and biomechanical abilities before we make the assumption of how an individual moves.

To get a greater understanding of human beings, we must be aware of how the body moves in a three dimensional space.

Triangulation is a concept patented by Physical Therapist Gary Gray.

This refers to movement within a three dimensional space which creates three aspects of motion – Tri – and the angulations which are:

  • Direction. Refers to the Plane of Motion i.e. Sagittal (forward and back), Frontal (side to side) and Transverse (rotational).
  • Height. Refers to the movement created either from the ground, the base of an object or from directly above. For example when a client is performing a balance reach with the arm as the driver, we can give the instruction of reaching “knee height”, chest height”, shoulder height”, or “above head height”.
  • Distance. Refers to how far away from the base the movement is.

How to Identify A Client’s “Real” Movement

During my ealier days as a personal trainer I was so focused on emphasising correct posture, alignment and learned cueing, that I sometimes missed what the “Real” movement was.

Real movements are typically movements that we don’t think about, we just do them. Examples of Real movements could be:

  • Bending down to tie a shoelace
  • Opening a door

So in relating this to your session, the way to identify a client’s Real movement is to do this subconciously.

How to Achieve A Desired Movement Subconsciously

To achieve a desired movement subconciously with a client, we can employ the use of an external objective.

Example 1 – The Lunge

While asking a client to perform a lunge you may notice that the client is showing limited right hip adduction. This may draw you to ‘consciously’ cue more hip adduction.

However beware – this strategy could potentially lead to more compensatory patterns developing. Why? Because the focus of performing a lunge is drawn solely on adducting the hip, the surrounding joints and movement may be affected when intense focus is placed on correcting the imbalance.

Instead, you could invite the client to perform the same anterior lunge however this time – rather than mentioning the adduction of the right hip – instead give them an external objective to focus on.

For example instruct them to drive the right hand, left and laterally over the head to address the right hip imbalance.

Other objectives could also be employed if your client presented a multitude of imbalances.

Example 2 – The Squat

Another example we could look at is the Squat, possibly the most talked about and written about exercise in the industry.

Initially when you ask a client to perform a squat, observation takes place with the client’s range of motion and execution of the exercise.

The client may present limitations in the range of movement in the ankle and hip complex. Commonly these may be represented by a heel lift and excessive forward lean. Naturally “conscious” cueing is considered to address these imbalances by asking the client to “maintain a lift through the chest”, or by reducing the depth of the squat, just to name a couple.

Another option to consider is to employ an external objective for the client to focus on.

For example when the client is performing the squat, ask them to reach with two hands anteriorly at a verticality of chest height with a distance of full range.

The client initiates the squat with their arms in this position, lowering into the squat until their arms come in contact with a dowel rod that will be holding below their outstretched arms. This way you can control the quality, depth and success of the squat executed.

Summary

There are many reasons why a subconcious strategy is of benefit when screening and training your client, but for me I have found that the carry-over from a subconscious level into normal movement has been instant and long lasting.

Clients have shown improvements in decreasing pain, functional limitations and sporting performance. Interestingly enough, it also provides the trainer with a blank canvas on which to become creative with their program design.

So good luck and have fun getting creative!

References

  1. Gary G & Tiberio Fuctional Video Digest
  2. Myers T.(2004) Anatomy Trains Churchill Livingstone

Dean Quirke
Dean is a NLP & Transformational Coach, CHEK Exercise Coach, GRAVITYPost-rehab Trainer and specialises in corrective exercise, injury prevention, weight management and special populations. Based out of Sydney, Dean’s passions lie within Movement and Rehabilitation, which has led him on an incredible journey of self discovery and education. Having sought out some of the foreward thinkers and innovative educators of our time, he has discovered that there is great need and a requirement to be open-minded and adaptable in order to be successful in this field. Dean likes to work with people that want to improve their lives on all levels but are just missing the one thing to make it happen…the tools! Getting results in a structured progressive manner is the key to his success.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Sleep-Wake Cycle

By Michelle Owen

Sleep and Maintaining A Good Body Clock

Each of us has an internal body clock called the Suprachaismatic Nucleus that regulates our daily sleep-wake patterns. This is often referred to as the “Body Clock” and it governs the release and timing of most mood, energy and sleep related hormones.

The body clock is dependant on light signals to function properly each day, dawn and dusk allows us to know when wake up or go to sleep.

For many people their lifestyles, living conditions, work, health and other conditions don’t allow them to get the correct sleep-wake signals anymore.

When we don’t get these correct signals, our sleep – wake patterns suffer and this can develop into a sleep disorder. When we have disrupted sleep patterns our body becomes stressed from the release of hormones at incorrect times in the day.

Good quality sleep gives the body a chance to repair, recover and heal.

  • We get our physiological recovery between 10pm and 12am
  • We get our psychological and nervous system recovery between 2am and 6am.

If you are getting into bed at 12pm on a regular basis it means that you are missing two hours a night of your physical recovery. This can result in all sorts of aches pains and niggles that will simply not get better.

When our bodies are healthy we can get away with the odd late night here or there without affecting us too much. However, when we abuse our sleep times on a regular basis, this becomes a major stress to the body, upsetting hormonal balance and causing adrenal fatigue. When the body is under stress of any sort, the immune system suffers…THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS!

But what if my sleeping patterns are due to my job?

Sometimes we cannot change our sleeping situation, for example, shift workers or parents with new babies. In these situations it is important to look after yourself in all other areas of your life to reduce overall load, that’s where the Six Foundation Life Principles come in.

Our daily sleep-wake patterns are called circadian rhythms. ‘Circadian‘ is Latin for ‘about a day‘. If you struggle with sleep, a circadian rhythm disorder is probably a factor. The body clock uses signals like sunlight and darkness to know when to produce the active hormones and when to shut them down and release the night time withdrawal and sleep hormones.

Our bodies crave and need regularity in all areas of our lives and this is not just related to sleep. Our bodies thrive when we have regular eating, sleeping, hydration, exercise and other important life principles. If we have the required regularity then our system will be in time with our body clock. When we lose the regularity that our system needs them we suffer in many areas.

Things that inhibit sleep

Many things can disrupt our sleep-wake cycles:

  • Working late in bright lights (especially fluorescent)
  • Electromagnetic stress from computers
  • TVs flickering
  • Training at high intensities late in the evening
  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Sweet desserts
  • And more!

In addition, alcohol and sugar can both make you crash to sleep but then wake later in the night through a drop in blood sugar level, to find yourself tossing and turning in the early hours and feeling hungry.

Toxicity in the body is also a common thing today as people eat more and more processed foods, bad fats, food colourings and preservatives.

Entrainment is another factor. People can retrain a sleep pattern with in 7 to 21 days. For example if you stay up till midnight for three weeks in a row your internal body clock will be trained to wait till midnight to start Cortisol reduction. This means melatonin, the sleep recovery and repair hormone kick in very late and you will be robbed of recovery time. Over time this can lead to chronic fatigue, adrenal stress, suppressed immune function and poor or impaired physiological repair resulting in aches pains and niggles.

Did you know…

When you get up in the night and switch on a light your sleep-wake centre will think the light is dawn and it will release Cortisol, serotonin and other alertness hormones. This diminishes the melatonin (sleep hormone) and makes it difficult to resume your sleep.You get back into bed and you try to get back to sleep. Your body has gone into wake-up mode and this is why many people have trouble getting back to sleep.

Sleeping In The Day

If you have to sleep during the day I recommend that you always wear an eye mask and make the room as dark as possible. This will reduce the amount of light filtering through eye lids and assist in a better quality of nap or sleep.

By doing this you will get a far better quality of sleep and you will wake up feeling a lot more refreshed than if you try to sleep without one.

Tips to assist you in getting good quality sleep:

As the evening goes you can assist with the reduction of Cortisol (stress hormone) from your body and increase melatonin (sleep hormone). There are many ways to do this and everyone will have something different that appeals to them. Some of these are:

  • A hot relaxing bath
  • Dim the lights
  • Candles
  • Massage
  • Deep diaphragmatic breathing
  • Meditation
  • Soft music
  • Positive reading

As well as these, the following tips are helpful:

  • It is healthy for your sleep cycle if you do not go to bed with either a full or on an empty stomach.
  • Eating a correct snack for your Metabolic Type will help greatly with the quality of your sleep.
  • If you have a busy mind try writing your thoughts in a journal to get them out instead of them racing around in your head while trying to sleep.

Sleep well.

Information resourced from “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!” by Paul Chek, available from www.hqh.com

Michelle Owen
Michelle is a C.H.E.K Practitioner Level 3 and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 3. With a successful studio in Auckland, New Zealand, Michelle works as a Postural and Wellness Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Practitioner. She also offers onsite Corporate Wellness Seminars and has spoken for a number of corporate companies including Hyatt Regency, Kensington Swan and ANZ Bank. As a Key Note Speaker, Michelle is passionate about bringing the CHEK principles to people everywhere.

www.michelleowen.co.nz

Sweet Enough to Kill

By Michelle Owen

Sugar. Sweet enough to kill you slowly.

Many people are eating sugar on a daily basis without even realising it. Sugar is hidden or camouflaged in many foods that are promoted as healthy, such as:

  • Modern breakfast cereals
  • Processed juices
  • Processed yoghurts
  • White bread
  • Milk products
  • Muesli bars

However many of these “shelf” products are overloaded with sugar, it is simply hidden on the label – instead coming under many different names.

The average food label lists higher quantity ingredients first. When it comes to sugar though, many food manufacturers break it down into different sugars so that each individual sugar appears further down the list and the sugar content does not look so daunting. This is done knowing that the average person does not know all the different names of sugar!

Be aware: Anything with “ose” on the end, e.g. fructose, lactose, sucrose, ribose, glucose…is sugar!

But why all the fuss about sugar?

When carbohydrates, (sugars), are eaten in any form without an adequate mix of quality proteins and fats to stabilise blood sugar levels, many things can happen within the body.

As we eat sugar we experience a rise in blood sugar levels. As this occurs the adrenal glands release insulin to clear the blood sugar from the system. This can result in a crash in blood sugar and then energy. If this is happening on a regular basis it is very hard for our system to maintain stable energy within the body. Over time this can lead to health issues such as:

  • Body fat storage
  • Stressed adrenal glands
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Type II diabetes
  • Gout
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Thrush infections
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Suppressed immune function.

And the list goes on!

Perception vs. Reality

People perceive that they are eating healthily when they have their low fat, packaged cereals or toast with jam and juice for breakfast. Unfortunately, if we break all of this down we find that it is predominantly simple sugars. You cannot possibly generate good energy from these types of foods!

Balance is Essential

No matter what a person’s Metabolic Type or age, it is very important to maintain a correct balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils with every meal and snack. Doing this will work to maintain blood sugar in a controlled fashion. Unfortunately, many people begin their days with a breakfast consisting of sugar. One of the biggest concerns here is our children who are going to school hyped up on sugar, resulting in a decrease in attention and an increase in hyperactivity disorders.

When we look at the fact that one-teaspoon of sugar can suppress the immune system for up to 4 hours, we begin to understand how this can cause havoc within the body over time. What many do not realise however is that healthy items like dates, raisins, bananas, or other foods also have a very high sugar content (glycemic index), and when eaten alone without fats, oils and proteins, they can actually have the same effect as refined sugar. Although they carry nutritional value, they can still be very disruptive to the hormonal system of the body.

It is extremely important for your health to know how to properly food combine to stabilise blood sugar levels. This creates steady energy not only for your body but also for your brain function and mood. Sugar makes the body acid! When the body becomes acid the PH levels and many hormones become disrupted.

Fungal and Parasitic Infections.

Long-term consumption of sugar in any form will lead to poor health. As our health deteriorates our vitality decreases. Our internal environment shifts to a point where our body is now a good place for fungal infections and parasite infections to live. Both of these live and thrive on sugar and as you continue to eat it, even if it perceived as healthy, these organisms will flourish in your system.

Common problems that occur when somebody has a fungal infection are dandruff, vaginal yeast infections, athlete’s foot, jock itch, just to name a few! People with intestinal parasite infections are usually under-nourished and weak, infected with viral, fungal, or bacteria, and have various types of chemical and metal poisoning.

Human intestinal parasites can be present in any disease, in any person, at any age. They are responsible for many health problems because they secrete toxins and steal the vital nutrients from our bodies. They can irritate or exaggerate other health problems you may be experiencing. Everyone is at risk and under their mercy during parasitic infections.

We create the perfect living environment for parasites and for the feeding of fungal infections when the bowel becomes ineffective in the elimination of our waste products. The build-up of faecal material on the walls of the colon is attributed to constipation and the amounts of junk food, chemicals, bad fats and sweets we consume.

To clear this type of infection an anti fungal diet must be followed. This includes eliminating all sugars, fruits, and below ground vegetables because of their high sugar content. Concentrate on good quality meat, chicken, fish and above ground vegetables. Eating right for your metabolic type is very important.

CHEK Points on Sugar

Read product labels for sugars that end in “ose” and avoid these. These include:

  • Fructose, lactose, sucrose, ribose, glucose. Look and purchase foods that say “100% Sugar Free”
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners as this tricks the brain. Stevier is a good natural alternative if you require a sweetener.
  • Avoid soft drinks, they are all sweet and fizzy.
  • Use seasonal fruits and berries to sweeten food.
  • Purchase whole foods, organic meats and vegetables
  • Keep away from processed foods!

Information resourced from “You Are What You Eat” CD series and “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!” both by Paul Chek www.hqh.com

Michelle Owen
Michelle is a C.H.E.K Practitioner Level 3 and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 3. With a successful studio in Auckland, New Zealand, Michelle works as a Postural and Wellness Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Practitioner. She also offers onsite Corporate Wellness Seminars and has spoken for a number of corporate companies including Hyatt Regency, Kensington Swan and ANZ Bank. As a Key Note Speaker, Michelle is passionate about bringing the CHEK principles to people everywhere.

www.michelleowen.co.nz