Archive for the ‘flexibility’ Category

Are you self aware of your body? Most of us don’t understand that what you tolerate you accept, but it is reality. Think about it for a minute. You get used to the way you feel and consider it to be normal. My dad tells me he has knee pain, back pain. He says the pain is part of life and you learn to deal with it. Tolerate it! I disagree. Many of our bodies are locked. The joints and tissues have aged and begun to lose integrity.

One reason the joints are locked is due to fascial restrictions. Fascial restrictions often occur in response to injury, disease, inactivity, or inflammation (stress or poor diet), causing fascial tissue to lose elasticity and become dehydrated. When fascia loses its elasticity and becomes dehydrated, fascia can bind around the traumatized areas, causing a fibrous adhesion to form. Fibrous adhesions are known to be painful, prevent normal muscle mechanics (i.e. joint range of motion, muscle length, neuromuscular hypertonicity, and decreased strength, endurance and motor coordination) and decrease soft-tissue extensibility. In other words, you get tight, lose flexibility, and decrease muscle efficiency. In time, the lack of proper joint mechanics will takes its toll on the body causing pain and structural dysfunctions.

What do you do about it? There are many treatments plans to choose from. I’d like to mention what works for me and many of my clients, use of a roller. Foam rolling is a form of fascial tissue release. Most foam rollers are just a basic foam cylinder, others are more dense and have PVC pipe wrapped with a rubbery cushion. You can also use a tennis ball, racquet ball, or lacrosse ball. It all depends on what the individual person can handle with regards to tenderness. 

One of my clients walked in the other day while I was rolling on the roller. She says, “Are you in pain?” This is a typical question I get from time to time. Think of using the roller as preventative maintenance. It is not just for rehabbing an injury or reducing the symptom of pain. Breaking up the knots on a regular basis will not only prevent injury but will allow you to have more efficiency during your training. This efficiency will be increased strength, improved range of motion, and enhanced force production. I recommend using this fascial release technique prior to any sporting activity, workout session, and first thing in the morning upon waking. The last one especially if you are a bit older and your joints have been locked up for quite some time.

I’ll link a video or two below for those of you who haven’t used one before. You can purchase a roller online or at your local sporting goods store. I’d start by focusing on rolling the major joint areas. These include the hips and glutes, upper back areas and shoulders. Also, I’d suggest rolling out the lower leg and calf region. You can find many videos on foam rolling via Youtube. Add rolling as a supplement to your flexibility program.


Last week I discussed the reason for most joint pain.  The post entailed the Cumulative Injury Cycle with regard to the body’s reaction to pain management. To view this previous post, click on this link .  This post explained that the body creates imbalances from a previous injury or a repetitive series of improper postures.  Through this, the biomechanics of the body is altered causing the Injury cycle.  Over time, the muscles neuromuscularly are not responding correctly causing defaults within the joint.  Then, as months and years progress, the joint itself wears and degenerates which causes more and more trips to the doctor.

One way to prevent this is to perform joint stabilization exercises to balance out the imbalances so that all muscles and joints are performing optimally. But first, one must figure out the imbalance and fix the problem.  A simple way that I use with my clients is the standard squat test.  In the pics you will see a weight shift to the right. I’ve used a dowel rod for a focal  point on the floor.  As I begin to squat you will see my body’s center line fall to the right.  This tells me that my glute on the right side is not firing to stabilize me. If not corrected, one or multiple joints surrounding could be altered and pain will soon arise.  Now you could go on for months with no pain.  Then, all of sudden, you may experience knee pain, back pain, shoulder pain, etc. There is a dysfunction and your body tries to compensate with other joints causing excessive use and more wear and tear.  You can do this simple test at home.  All you need is a stick, a golf club or even place some tape on the ground.  Have a friend or family member look at the results or take a picture.  Typically, if one shifts their body either way, the glute on that particular side is not working correctly.  Now, at times, the ankle joint could be the problem.  In this case,  I would also test the squat with the heels elevated with a small block.  This will take the ankle joint out of the equation and you will get a true reading.  I’ve had clients shift without the lift and then not shift with the lift.  This tells me the problem is with the flexibility in the calves.  Either way, this test should help you figure out at least one or possibly the main dysfunction.  If the problem is in the glute area, I recommend doing clam exercises with a mini-band, penguin walks, and/or side plank with the bottom knee bent focusing on the weakened glute muscle.  If you find the ankle joint to be the problem proper calf stretching and strengthening of the front compartment of the shin (anterior tibialis).  For now, I’d go to Youtube and locate the exercises.  In a later post, I will show you these exercises.  Check out the following pic and see if you can see the weight shift. Click on the pic to enhance the size.

With this next pic, the heels are lifted and you see that I am fairly balanced in my squat with more range of motion.  In the previous pics, my bodyweight shifted to right, plus I had limited flexibility and range of motion.  This tells me the problem begins with the ankle joint and the lack of flexibility in the calves.  Being that I stand all day long training clients, this would be a reasonable assumption.



Kinetic Chain

The kinetic chain is made up of the soft tissue system (muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia), neural system (nerves and CNS), and articular system (joints).  The kinetic chain works as an integrated functional unit.  All components of the kinetic chain exist interdependently.  If one segment is not functioning efficiently, then the other components must compensate, leading to tissue overload, fatigue, faulty movement patterns, and finally initiates the Cumulative Injury Cycle.  For example, muscle tightness restricts the range of motion that a joint may be moved.  Because of muscle restriction (tightness, soft tissue adhesions, and neural-hyperactivity), joint motion is altered, thus changing normal neural feedback to the CNS (central nervous system).  Ultimately, neuromuscular efficiency is compromised, which leads to poor movement patterns, inducing premature fatigue and causing injury.  A SMFR (Self-Myofascial Release) Program, along with Functional Strength Training and Cardiovascular Endurance improves muscular balance and overall performance.

  •  Improves flexibility/joint range of motion
  • Corrects muscle imbalances
  • Reduces muscle soreness & relieves joint stress
  •  Decreases neuromuscular hypertonicity (overactivity/stiffness)
  • Improves neuromuscular efficiency (the ability of the kinetic chain to work synergistically as an integrated unit)
  •  Cost Savings ($25-40 or $60-75 for a massage therapist, although I recommend seeing a massage therapist regularly)

How do you do it?

To perform foam rolling you simply position a muscle on the roller and use your own body weight to apply pressure into the roller looking for tender spots. When a tender spot is noted just hold on that spot until the tenderness decreases by at least 50% – 70%. The knots or adhesions (that cause the tenderness) won’t just disappear, they will travel to different spots of the area you are working on, so be sure to scan the rest of the area you are working on to find where the knots and adhesions moved to. You can perform this on all the muscles of your body with the exception of directly on your neck and lower back.

When Should You Foam Roll?

Although you can perform the technique after a workout, it is best to Foam roll as part of your warm up (pre-exercise) before any kind of static (reach and hold) or dynamic (active/moving) flexibility work, as well as on your off days to help aid in recovery. You should perform you foam rolling work first because you will be freeing up your muscles allowing for better range of motion during your static or dynamic flexibility work, as well as prepping your body for more intense activity.