C1-C2

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Adding to yesterday’s post....Chiropractors take the pressure off the brain stem (by adjusting C1-C2) and make sure it stays that way. The longer is stays that way, the more opportunity your body has to heal, and the greater your life will be as a result. 

Heal Itself

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Chiropractic adjustments simply remove the source of interference (subluxations) so your body can do what it naturally does: heal itself. It’s not about stiff necks or lower back pain. It’s about making sure your nervous system is clear. -Steve Judson —-—-—-—-—

Photo by @nickdavisphoto

Consistent Action!

There is no secret movement or stretch that is going to improve your mobility. Improvement comes from consistent action - getting into good positions throughout the day, every day! Working on movement and mobility while at the gym for 30-60 minutes per day a few times a week won't undue the sedentary or static lifestyle many of us have in the other 23 hours each day.

There are four different positions that I highly encourage you to get into on a daily basis and finding ways to incorporate them into your day. 

1) Arms overhead - just get your arms up overhead. Stand in a door frame and put your hands up and stretch and move. Do this for 1-2 minutes at a time to open up your chest and lats.

2) Deep squat - this one may take a little bit of time to get into. A lot of us have mobility limitations which will cause us to point our feet out or our heels will pop off the ground. Hold onto something sturdy and sit back into a squat. Feet should be about shoulder width apart, maybe a little wider, feet point forward. The goal is to get your butt down close to your ankles.

3) Half-kneeling - kneeling on one knee with your opposite foot in front of you. Do this on both sides.

4) Tall kneeling - kneeling on both knees. Put a towel or pillow under your knees if you need to.

All of these movements can be done at your desk and at home. These four movements are key to improving your hips, lower back and shoulders. Sitting destroys our hips and causes a lack of mobility.  Stuart McGill, a low back pain researcher, says when the hips stop moving, the back starts moving. The spine is meant to maintain a rigid shape while loaded all the way through movement. McGill has shown the best way to hurt your back is to move into flexion when its loaded.

I hear "I need to start doing yoga" on a weekly basis. Yoga is very beneficial, but again, it won't undue the hours of poor positioning you are putting your body through on a daily basis. Find ways to get into better positions throughout your day to improve your hip mobility and stability. Start now with the 4 positions mentioned above.

Optimize Your Body At Work

Sitting is the new smoking - a slogan that you have probably heard before. There are countless books on how being sedentary is wreaking havoc on our health. So we go into work and ask for a standing desk so we no longer have to sit. However, this is not going to be an end all solution. There are things that need to happen to make sure this is good for us, because standing like a statue all day at our desk is just as bad as sitting.

The standing desk has benefits because they create a more movement rich environment (provided you move while standing). I have a standing desk at the office with a stool, Topo anti-fatigue mat and foam roller. These tools allow me to get my body into different positions during the day. I use the stool to allow me to rest whenever I need it - it allows me to sit without closing up my hips too much. The Topo-mat is an anti-fatigue mat with different terrain shapes on it so it keeps me moving and allows me to use the different shapes to stretch my lower legs. The foam roller is used to place one foot (at a time) on it and roll it back and forth to keep my legs moving and in different positions. When standing at the desk, we want to keep our shoulders back and down and relaxed. Our elbows should be down at our sides. Our pelvis should be tucked under our lower back - to do this squeeze/fire your glutes - this naturally tucks your pelvis - fire your glutes about 20% of max to keep a stable base. Continually change stances, limiting standing on one leg or shifting to just one hip.

If you don't have a standing desk, there are positions you can get into on your chair to create movement and put your body in constantly varied positions (see video below). Transitioning between sitting and standing is best - especially if you can continue to move in both positions.

Listen to the Podcast

Episode 11 - The Standing Desk

 

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Psoas

"Where you think it is, it ain't"

The psoas muscles (also known as the hip flexors) can be a tricky beasts. The psoas originates on the bodies and transverse processes of the lumbar spine and inserts on the lesser trochanter of the femur. The psoas flexes the hip, may laterally rotate the hip, flexes the trunk, tilts the pelvis forward and assists to laterally flex the lumbar spine.

Sitting puts our hips in a flexed position and our trunk flexed with the seat supporting our legs and our lower back typically in a rounded position. With the seat doing the work for us, there is no need for the psoas muscles to fire. The psoas muscles go to sleep when they are no longer needed. When they are not firing they tend to lock up to create stability. When we stand, move and lift and our psoas muscles are asleep, other muscles with compensate. Your lumbar erectors with become tight and overactive, as well as your quads. Over time this can cause lower back pain. So the first thing we do is to try to roll out the lumbar erectors with the foam roller thinking this is what the problem is. Doing this may create a short term fix but does nothing to fix the initial cause.

Creating a plan to wake up the psoas muscles is a must. So what is that plan? We need to release the psoas muscles and activate them. Releasing the psoas is NOT very comfortable. There are a few ways to do this. A soft ball, a kettle bell, a rolling pin (or something similar) can be used to shove into your gut to release them. I typically start 1-2" out from the belly button and start to apply pressure lightly. The psoas run from the bottom of the sternum to the inside of the thigh bones in an inverted V formation. You can move up an down in the gut but be gentle, as you want to be able to breathe during this process. I like putting a softball on a box and slowly draping myself over the ball - with the ball placed 1-2" next to my belly button. You can also lay on the kettle bell or lay on your back with the kettle bell placed on top of you. (There are pictures below.) We will want to release the psoas muscles for 3-5 minutes per side.

Next we want to activate the psoas muscles. We can do this a few different ways as well. Just pick one that suits you best. The first way is to stand up with your back against the wall and raise one leg to or above hip level, with your foot and ankle relaxed, and hold it there. The goal is to hold it there for a minute. If your leg starts to shake, take a rest. We don't want other muscles to compensate. We can do the same thing laying on our back, but we will want to push down on the knee with our hands and actively push up on the hands with the knee and hold for 5-10 seconds at a time. The last way can be done at your seat. Place your hands on top of your knee and apply pressure down with your hands as you actively pull your knee up.

Weak or inhibited psoas muscles can be a huge reason for lower back pain and it is often overlooked. Check your psoas today or come into the office to have them checked if you are experiencing lower back pain.

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In this image, you can see the psoas attaches to the front on the lumbar spine and travels down to the upper leg.

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In this release, I places a kettle bell (or ball) on the table and am slowly and gently laying on top of it with the kettle bell places 1-2 inches next to my belly button.

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This is an alternative setup. I am laying the kettle bell on top on me - 1-2 inches outside of my belly button.

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Another alternative set up. I am laying on the handle of the kettle bell and gently sinking into it.

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This is the activation exercise. After releasing the psoas, I will do this exercise to activate it. I bring my knee up to or above hip level, I will press down on my knee with both hands while resisting the pressure with my leg. Hold for 5 seconds and do this 5 times per side.

Listen to the associated podcast here.....

Forgotten Foundations - Ep 9 - Psoas Out To Lunch

Foot Tripod

Listen on the podcast....

Forgotten Foundations Podcast - Episode 8 - The Foot Tripod

Building upon last weeks post, the foot is very important in terms of movement and function of the body. If we lose functionality in the feet, we will develop compensation issues further up the chain. The feet are the body's foundation - if the foundation is broken, movement patterns and stability breakdown. Similar to a house, if there is a foundation problem, we will eventually see cracks in the walls.

There are a lot of fancy, complicated exercises and mobility techniques to help improve the feet. In reality, it takes just takes time, consistency and a commitment to improve your feet. Take your shoes (and socks) off as much as possible to get a feel for the ground, improve your proprioception and patterning. Make sure you point your feet (pretty) straight forward. This may feel strange if you have been moving with your feet point out. If this is hard, it may be a hip issue (which I will cover next week).

Something basic you can work on is called the foot tripod. It is a way of evenly distributing your weight in your feet. There are 3 points per foot. The first point is the center of the calcaneus or the heel. The second point is the head of the 5th metatarsal or the spot where the small toes attaches to the foot. The third point is the head of the 1st metatarsal or the spot where the big toe attaches to the foot. A balance between these three points gives the foot stability and it is thought that arches of each foot functions optimally when the tripod position is maintained. When the head of the first metatarsal is unstable, it is heard to maintain the tripod position and we tend to lose position and function of the arches in the feet. Other possible issues come from tight or weak foot, calf and hip muscles.

Learning the foot tripod can be difficult at first, especially if you have a flat foot or a loss of arch. Do this with shoes and socks OFF. Start by focusing on your heel and the 5th metatarsal points. Next lift your toes up and start to shift onto the big toe point - this makes it a bit easier to feel the big toe point.

Next week, we will cover the hip and its relationship with the foot.

 

 

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