The Elf on the Shelf Exercise Menu

13 December 2016, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

I figured with this week's post we'd have a little fun! I mean, it IS Christmas time! And, as the song says, It's the most wonderful time of the year!

If you're a parent like me, every night as you're heading to bed, the panic hits you: We forgot to move our Elf on the Shelf!

If you're unfamiliar with the Elf on the Shelf, the Elf is said to be one of Santa's helpers. And every year, the Elf arrives at your house to help Santa manage his Naughty and Nice list. Every night, the Elf returns to the North Pole and gives his daily report to the Big Man. He always returns to the house before the kids awake, but he always seems to cause some mischief while he's at it. In our house, our Elf, Charles Butterscotch, has been known to string a zip-line across the living room, roll down the stairs while inside a toilet paper roll, perform snow angles in Rice Crispy cereal after pouring it on the kitchen counter, and even "poop" a Hershey's kiss.

He's quite the trouble maker (as are most elves)!

But recently, I saw something that made me smile. One of our clients posted a picture of his Elf actually doing something good, something beneficial. Yes, this Elf was doing Static Back and using a Rubik's Cube as his "Egoscue block." How cool is THAT?

Of course, it got me thinking. I started to wonder: What other e-cises could my Elf on the Shelf do? So, without further ado, here's what I came up with! And, just so we're clear, YOU can do these e-cises alongside YOUR Elf on the Shelf! By doing the following e-cises, your Christmas, and your Elf's nightly travels to and from the North Pole, will be pain free and much more enjoyable!

STATIC BACK

5:00

 

1.  Lie on your back with your legs up over a block or chair  so your hips and knees are at 90 degrees.
2.  Place your arms out to the sides at 45 degrees from your body with palms up.
3.  Relax your upper back and notice if your low back flattens to the floor evenly from left to right.
4.  Hold this position as directed.

 

STATIC BACK PULLOVERS

3 SETS OF 10

1.  Lie on your back with your legs up over a large block or chair, knees bent at 90 degrees
2.  Relax your legs, lower back and stomach
3.  Reach arms straight up above your chest, elbows locked and hands clasped together
4.  Now lower your hands down to the floor above your head
   • Do not contract your abdominal muscles, keep the stomach and lower back relaxed
   • Do not let your arms bend at the elbow, keep them straight throughout the e-cise (Our Elf is doing them wrong!)
   • If you are unable to lower your hands all the way to the floor behind you, go only as low as you are able while maintaining the straight arm position
5.  Return to the starting position and repeat as directed.

 

ASSISTED RUNNER'S STRETCH

1:00 PER SIDE

1. Kneel down in front of a chair or table you can use to stabilize and support yourself.
2. Place the back of your left heel to the front of the right knee.
   •Be sure that you are up on the toes of your right foot, with bottom of the foot pointing behind you.
   •Keep the left foot, right knee and right foot in line with each other
3. Keeping your hands on the chair stand up and begin bending over while rolling your hips back to place an arch into your lower back.
   •The heel of your right foot should now be on the ground.
4. Tighten your thighs (quads) while relaxing your upper body.
   •Keep your weight on the inside of each foot and keep your lower back arched.
5. Hold as directed on your menu.
6. Switch sides and repeat.

 

KNEELING GROIN STRETCH

1:00 PER SIDE

1.  From a kneeling position, place one foot out in front of you with your knee bent
2.  Interlace your hands and place them on your front knee
3.  Lunge forward
   • Keep the knee of the forward leg directly above your ankle
   • Push into your hands to move your chest away from your knee.
   • Your front leg should be supporting you as you are lunging forward
   • You should feel the stretch on the opposite/back leg
4.  Hold as directed on your menu
5.  Switch sides and repeat

 

STANDING OVERHEAD EXTENSION

1:00

1.  Stand with your feet pointing straight and hip width apart.
2.  Interlace your fingers together and reach your arms overhead, pressing your hands to the ceiling with palms up.
3.  Look up toward your hands and keep your arms straight, do not bend at the elbow.
   • Do not lean back.
   • Try to keep your arms directly overhead, not forward of your head, bring your shoulders down.
   • Relax your stomach muscles.
4.  Hold as directed on your menu.

So...after finishing this menu of exercises, what is different to you? Do you feel more balanced? Do you feel less pain? Do you have better range of motion? Well guess what? Although he might not say it, your Elf feels better too!

QUESTION: Which of those e-cises was your favorite?

As always, thanks for sharing these posts with your friends and family (it's easy, just click below)! Don't forget to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. You can follow Pete on Twitter, and you can follow me there as well. You can now follow me on Instagram, too! Let's connect!

The Top-5 Posts of 2015

16 December 2015, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

First of all, let me say a huge THANK YOU to all of our blog readers and subscribers! We have had nearly 1,500 of you subscribe, and we've only had the blog fully up and running since April! If you haven't subscribed yet, what are you waiting for? And, don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. You can also follow Pete Egoscue on Twitter!

This week's post is a year-in-review, and I'm revisiting the Top-5 posts of 2015. In case you missed any of them, here they are! Enjoy!

 

5. There's No Such Thing as a Tommy John Epidemic

If you know me at all, then you know that I’m a baseball fan. I grew up playing the game as a kid, continued playing at Yale University, and now have the honor of coaching my two oldest boys as they learn to play the game.

But lately, I’ve noticed something very alarming about the game I love. There is an increasing number of elbow injuries popping up throughout the game. From Little League to the Major Leagues, players, and specifically pitchers, are going down with elbow injuries.

The diagnosis is almost always the same: A torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the player’s elbow.

The blame is almost always the same: Too many pitches thrown in a season, or throwing a curve ball at too young of an age, or too many innings pitched in a year, etc.

The solution is almost always the same: Reconstructive surgery (also known as Tommy John Surgery, named after the player who first had the procedure done).

Yet the cause is almost always missed:

- See more at: http://egoscue.com/blog/item/65-no-tommy-john-epidemic-egoscue#sthash.4aYgAGr1.dpuf

If you know me at all, then you know that I’m a baseball fan. I grew up playing the game as a kid, continued playing at Yale University, and now have the honor of coaching my two oldest boys as they learn to play the game.

But lately, I’ve noticed something very alarming about the game I love. There is an increasing number of elbow injuries popping up throughout the game. From Little League to the Major Leagues, players, and specifically pitchers, are going down with elbow injuries.

The diagnosis is almost always the same: A torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the player’s elbow.

The blame is almost always the same: Too many pitches thrown in a season, or throwing a curve ball at too young of an age, or too many innings pitched in a year, etc.

The solution is almost always the same: Reconstructive surgery (also known as Tommy John Surgery, named after the player who first had the procedure done).

Yet the cause is almost always missed:

- See more at: http://egoscue.com/blog/item/65-no-tommy-john-epidemic-egoscue#sthash.4aYgAGr1.dpuf

If you know me at all, then you know that I’m a baseball fan. I grew up playing the game as a kid, continued playing at Yale University, and now have the honor of coaching my two oldest boys as they learn to play the game.

But lately, I’ve noticed something very alarming about the game I love. There is an increasing number of elbow injuries popping up throughout the game. From Little League to the Major Leagues, players, and specifically pitchers, are going down with elbow injuries.

The diagnosis is almost always the same: A torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the player’s elbow.

The blame is almost always the same: Too many pitches thrown in a season, or throwing a curve ball at too young of an age, or too many innings pitched in a year, etc.

The solution is almost always the same: Reconstructive surgery (also known as Tommy John Surgery, named after the player who first had the procedure done).

Yet the cause is almost always missed:

- See more at: http://egoscue.com/blog/item/65-no-tommy-john-epidemic-egoscue#sthash.4aYgAGr1.dpuf

If you know me at all, then you know that I’m a baseball fan. I grew up playing the game as a kid, continued playing at Yale University, and now have the honor of coaching my two oldest boys as they learn to play the game.

But lately, I’ve noticed something very alarming about the game I love. There is an increasing number of elbow injuries popping up throughout the game. From Little League to the Major Leagues, players, and specifically pitchers, are going down with elbow injuries.

The diagnosis is almost always the same: A torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the player’s elbow.

The blame is almost always the same: Too many pitches thrown in a season, or throwing a curve ball at too young of an age, or too many innings pitched in a year, etc.

The solution is almost always the same: Reconstructive surgery (also known as Tommy John Surgery, named after the player who first had the procedure done).

Yet the cause is almost always missed...

READ MORE...

 

 

4. Fighting "Dysevolution"

 

We all know that things evolve. People, animals, we all adapt. We make the best of our surroundings. We tend to stick with things that we discover are of benefit to us, while we dump other ideas that have little-to-no impact on our lives. The wheel, for example, has proven pretty important. Google+, on the other hand...where did that go?

Adaptation is a part of life.

It's a part of being alive.

However, you might not have heard of the term "dysevolution." I certainly hadn't until recently, when I stumbled upon an article from Discover magazine. Harvard researcher (and all-around advocate of motion, specifically barefoot running) Daniel Lieberman suggests that modern-day humans are dysevolving, and at a fairly rapid rate.

READ MORE...

 

 

3. Drink More, Pee Less: The Key to Hydration

 

I’m guessing that title has you a little curious. I’m sure that you’re thinking that by drinking more, you’ll have to urinate more, but that’s not exactly true.

I’m sure that if you were to drink three large glasses of water right now you would, no doubt, have to run to the restroom within the hour. However, it’s not the water’s fault. It’s also not your bladder’s fault. I don’t think you have a “small” bladder or a bladder that has become “over stretched” and therefore can’t function correctly. I believe you’re dehydrated.

The majority of us are thinking about the bladder incorrectly. We are thinking of it as a bowl (a holding compartment) rather than a membrane (something that is designed to be saturated and lubricated).

Think about what happens when you pour water over a dry sponge...

READ MORE...

 

 

2. The Knee: Complex, Yet Simple

I love a good oxymoron. Phrases like "jumbo shrimp," "deafening silence," or the fact that we "park" in a driveway and "drive" on a parkway, can really get us thinking!

But what if we applied that link of thinking to the body? Is there a joint in the body that can be described oxymoronically? According to Pete Egoscue, there is a joint in the body that provides us with a bit of an anatomical oxymoron...

READ MORE...

 

 

1. Rory McIlroy's Biggest Injury Concern

 

Apparently the #1 ranked golfer in the world isn’t bulletproof.

On Sunday, the PGA’s top-ranked player, Rory McIlroy, posted this photo on his Instagram account, revealing that he had completely torn a ligament in his ankle while playing soccer with his buddies.

Of course it can be said, and it has been said, that his injury was “foolish” and “stupid.” Should the No. 1 golfer in the world be playing soccer? That’s debatable, and folks have weighed in on both ends of the spectrum. I think it’s safe to say that sarcasm and vitriol have ruled the Twitter-sphere over the last few days.

But, while everyone is worried about the short-term impact this injury will have on his World Golf Rankings, I think there is a far greater concern that Rory hasn’t even thought about...

READ MORE...

 

Again, THANK YOU for a great 2015! We're looking forward to bringing you more great content in 2016! 

If you have questions about specific symptoms or have blog post suggestions, contact us now!

Stop Tightening Your Abs!

14 October 2015, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

If you’ve taken a fitness class lately, scanned the most recent fitness magazine, or watched the newest workout video posted to YouTube, you have undoubtedly been informed that you need to stabilize your core or engage your abdominal muscles while working out.

Delivering a punch in a kickboxing class? Tighten your abdominals!

Doing a downward dog in a yoga class? Stay strong in your belly!

Dancing those pounds into oblivion with a Zumba video? Brace your core!

While there is no doubt that you’ve heard those (or a variation of those), I’m here to warn you that you might not want to believe everything you’re told.

While the term “core strength” has been a buzzword in the fitness industry for a while now, I think it’s overused and grossly misinterpreted. I hear clients on a daily basis who think all of their symptoms will disappear if they simply strengthen their core. They believe their back pain, hip pain and shoulder pain are due to the simple fact that they’re weak. But, that’s not necessarily true. While I believe core strength is important, it’s not a panacea. Ultimately, you have to look at the position and posture of the body to find the true cause of one’s pain.

I’m sure that when you think “core,” you think abdominals. You almost definitely think about the “six-pack” abs, and you might think about your oblique muscles, but I’m sure you don’t think about anything other than those. However, did you know that your core stretches from your toes all the way up to your skull? Yes, that’s right, it’s a full-body chain. Take a look at this:

Notice the blue shading? That’s one continuous line of fascia (a connective tissue) and muscles that runs from the skull all the way down to the foot. Yes it includes your abdominal muscles, but it includes so much more than that. Known as “The Superficial Front Line,” it actually attaches to your toes and your jawbone. In light of that information, hopefully you’re starting to think of you “core” in a different light.

Most health professionals run into trouble when thinking of your core as just the abdominal muscles. The muscle that most of them are targeting when telling you to tighten your abs is the transverse abdominis, otherwise known as the TVA. It is shown in the picture below and runs like a weight-belt around your waist.

However, did you know that the TVA should only be used when compressing the abdominal cavity? That’s right–the TVA is used for forceful pushing…a.k.a. pooping and puking! In addition, it helps women when birthing children. So unless you’re doing one of those three activities while working out, you most likely aren’t activating your TVA like it’s designed to be used!

Think of guy-wires holding up an old-time circus tent. Those wires can only do their job when they’re pulled tight–pulled away from the center of the tent. When the tension is let off of those ropes, therefore allowing the ropes to move toward the tent, the whole tent falls, right? Well, we can think of your TVA in the same way. When you are told to “suck and tuck” or brace your abdominals, there is a compression, an inward motion, that happens. Rather than pulling the guy wires more taut, when you tighten your abs you’re actually performing a moving-in motion.

The end result? While thinking that you’re stabilizing your abdominals, the reality of the situation is that that movement is having the opposite effect on your abdominal cavity. The guy-wires that are being asked to brace your spine have now become “slack,” just like the guy-wires of a circus tent. Remember, the TVA is a compression/inward-motion muscle, not a tension/outward-motion muscle. By “bracing” and compressing your TVA, you’re asking for the whole circus tent to come crashing down. And, because of the superficial fascia lines running from head to toe, the effects of instability aren’t just felt in your lumbopelvic region. No, unfortunately, the entire body becomes unstable.

If you really want to impact your core, focus on the entire kinetic chain. The muscles of a balanced body know exactly when to work and when not to work. If you’re balanced, you won’t have to consciously think about tightening or bracing your abdominals. Think about it this way: If I asked you to keep your biceps muscles flexed throughout your entire workout, you’d look at me like I was crazy. You know that tightening your biceps the entire time wouldn’t make any sense and those muscles would fatigue. But if you wouldn’t continuously tighten your biceps, why are you doing it with your abdominals?

And, just to prove the point: How many of you have your abs tight right now?

How did I know your abs were tight? And, why on Earth were they tight to begin with? We have become so ingrained with the erroneous thinking that we need to tighten our core that most of us are doing it all the time without even thinking about it.

Continue that trend, and your tent will come crashing down.

If you're worried about your tent crashing down, contact us today!

QUESTION: Did I catch you with your abdominals tight? 

Thanks for reading and sharing (it's easy to do by clicking the links below)! Don't forget to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

Tiger Woods Doesn't Need to "Get More Fit"

25 August 2015, 12:00 am
Published in Blog
Tiger Woods’ season came to an end Sunday at the Wyndham Championship after finishing tied for 10th place. While Woods made a run at the FedEx Cup Playoff, he fell short of qualifying for the end-of-season tournament.
 
But, more eye-opening than Woods missing the playoff, was the admission that he suffered from hip pain during the final round. When asked if he grabbed his back on the 11th hole on Sunday, Woods responded, “It’s not my back, no.” Then, when pressed on the issue, Tiger admitted it was, “Just my hip.”
 
Just your hip, huh, Tiger? It’s the “next” joint on the list, I guess?

While some might hear that Tiger was hurting and become alarmed, for me that was not the most alarming portion of Tiger’s press conference. No, the most alarming statement in Tiger’s post-round presser was how he ended it.

“This is my offseason right now,” Woods said. “It will be nice. I got lots of soccer games and practices to go to, so I’ll be doing that and just working out, training and trying to get more fit” (emphasis added).

Trying to get more fit…

Trying to get more fit…

Trying to get more fit…

It’s like a bad dream. Those words keep repeating in my head.

Trying to get more fit? Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Tiger is the fittest golfer I’ve ever seen as well as the greatest golfer I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.

It can be argued that the game of golf hasn’t seen another golfer as dominant as Tiger, and the game may never see his level of dominance again (although I believe we all need to stay tuned to Jordan Spieth’s career).

Tiger doesn’t need to “get more fit.”

Let’s be honest, golf isn’t a get-more-fit kind of sport. When thinking about the greats of the game–guys like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Lee Travino–and their respective levels of fitness, with all due respect, those guys don’t look like they just got finished competing in a Mr. Olympia contest. While golf can be a fit-man’s game, golf isn’t just a fit-man’s game. I mean, come on, Craig Stadler’s nickname is “The Walrus” for crying out loud.

You see, this isn’t about “fitness,” Tiger. This is about imbalance. It’s about the body’s ability to swing a golf club. More specifically, this article is about your body’s ability to swing a golf club around your structural dysfunctions. The body is so good at getting you through the swing that the motion is accomplished, often times, despite the physical consequences. That’s exactly what your body has done. The average TV viewer sees you’re swinging a golf club just fine, but I see that your functional limitations are preventing you from doing it pain free. If you’ll allow me to make a comparison to Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, in Top Gun — You’re writing checks your body can’t cash.

Let me cut to the chase, Tiger: Your level of fitness has nothing to do with how good or bad your golf game is. Instead, it has everything to do with your lack of proper hip function which has started a cascade of structural “events” throughout your body. If you haven’t already, take a minute and read about The Importance of the Hip Flexor. If you choose not to read that article, just remember one thing: If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Just like mom reigns supreme at home, the hip flexor and its function reign supreme in the body. Whether that body belongs to a pro golfer, an attorney, an entrepreneur, or a high schooler who plays piccolo in the marching band, proper hip function, specifically hip flexor function, is the key to a pain free life.

While Tiger didn’t specify which hip was hurting him, it honestly doesn’t matter. Both hips need to be balanced. My hips need to be balanced. Your hips need to be balanced. We would all benefit from bilaterally functioning hips.

Tiger thinks that the Ferrari he calls his body will perform better if he simply increases the horsepower of the engine. What’s true is that he instead needs to get the frame straight. Only then will the “Ferrari” perform as it’s designed to perform.

Tiger, this offseason, don’t get “fit.” Get balanced.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on Tiger’s latest injury?

If you're looking to get balanced, contact us today! As always, thanks for sharing these posts with your friends and family. And, don't forget to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

Written by Pete Egoscue

Air bench. Also known as air chair and skier’s exercise. Whatever you call it, it is used almost universally as a quadriceps strengthening exercise, and it does have that effect. Runners who do it have less shaky legs in those later miles, skiers who use it can manage moguls more expertly for a longer period of time, and anyone who does it regularly will notice an increase in how long he or she can hold that air bench position.

Many trainers use the air bench as an exercise to “isolate” the quads, but there is no such thing as isolating a single muscle for any purpose, including strengthening and conditioning. The body just doesn’t work that way. It is a unit of various parts working together in a multitude of ways, and to use any one muscle for any activity, even the simplest, must necessarily involve other muscles, not to mention bones, ligaments, joints, tendons, etc.

But at Egoscue, when we use the air bench, it is not for the purpose of strengthening the quads (which, incidentally, are those big muscles in the thigh, in case you were unsure). The air bench accomplishes far more.

First, the position. People in air bench are essentially sitting against a wall, their backs pressed against the wall, their gluts and thighs resting on air, their knees bent at ninety degrees (or as close to ninety as a client is able), their feet pointing straight ahead. When you are in this position, your pelvis is in a loaded, neutral position, meaning it is being used in an aligned, symmetrical manner.

This proper loaded neutrality allows the back muscles, or paraspinals, to communicate properly with the front muscles, commonly known as the abs. In other words, they’re working together the way they were intended, equally sharing the burden and thereby establishing symmetry and proper alignment. All of this subsequently forces the hips into a proper position so that they are neither rolled forward nor pushing backward, either of which puts undue pressure on the lower vertebrae. As a result, the muscles around the hips are properly engaged, the hip flexors and psoas muscles specifically, both of which allow us to bend, sit up, walk, etc. It’s tough to overestimate the importance of those muscles around the hips.

Furthermore, when the hip flexors and psoas are properly activated, the femur, or thigh bone, is moved to a neutral position, meaning it’s working right where it’s supposed to be working. The knees being bent allows the load joints of the knees and ankles to be lined up, which subsequently compels the patella tendon, or kneecap tendon, to its proper position. The ultimate effect of this is that the feet can now support the weight of the body properly, that is, they’re not pronating (weight on inside) or supinating (weight on outside), both of which are terribly demanding on the ankles and put us at greater risk of breaking or spraining our ankles. And of course, the knees being in their proper position better enables them to carry the load of our bodies, reducing knee pain and potential knee problems. (If you’re feeling pain in your knees, do an air bench for two minutes and see what that does.)

The point is, the air bench does far more than strengthen the quads, and it certainly doesn’t strengthen those quads in isolation. The quads may be where you feel the strain in air bench, but in order for you to feel that strain, all the other joints and muscles must be in their proper place, and the way to guarantee that is to keep the lower back pushed against the wall. If it isn’t, then none of what I’ve described above will occur.

The final question, then, is “How long do I do it?” It’s a question we hear often and sometimes urgently from the reddening and sweating client sitting in it. The answer is that you should remain in the position until the isolation feeling in both quads is the same, which is usually a minimum of one minute. Then you should stay in it as long as you can, for the longer you can stay in air bench, the better for your joints, your body, it will be.

If, after one week of air benches at a minimum of one minute per time, you don’t feel a simultaneous isolation in your quads, then you have imbalance issues that will not be corrected by putting yourself in this posture. Worse, if you are imbalanced, air bench will weaken you in key certain respects, such as your ability to walk and run. If such be the case, then you need to get a more thorough program, or menu, to balance and align your body, and we happen to know some pretty good clinics where you can get precisely that.

As always, we appreciate you reading our posts and sharing them with your friends and family. Don't forget to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!