Providing the UK with premium quality therapy and healthcare for chronic pain and athletic injuries. Find us on Twitter @ehmobility
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MOVE YOUR SKIN AROUND, NOT JUST YOUR MUSCLES!
This is a topic that does not get discussed anywhere near enough. In physiology, we have a concept, a facet of biology, called sliding surfaces. This is the phenomenon where all the layers of your tissues (your skin, veins, arteries, lymph vessels, muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and bones) should be able to slide and glide frictionlessly around each other.
If you feel the back of your hand, the skin moves over the underlying tissues. If you feel your cheekbone, same thing. And your elbow, and your kneecap.
Now, it's easy to use those for examples because they are joints or nearby places which, for most of us, are moving about quite a lot throughout each day. But try pulling up the skin over the belly of your forearm. Or your quad. Or calves. Or back.
Your skin should be able to slide around, but all the layers can become compressed and adhered down. Tacking down and reducing blood and lymph flow, putting pressure on nerves.
And this is a major reason why we prefer to use grippy tools rather than smooth ones, such a lacrosse balls which do not tack down on the skin and allow you to pull your skin around.
So here is the take away: ideally, do your self-massage on bare skin, and work not only on rolling around but also keeping the therapy balls in place and scraping them down your skin with some gentle pressure.
This may make your skin a bit red as you increase the blood flow. Don't worry, it should disappear within 10 minute or so. If it persists for a longer time, that may be indicative of obstructed fluid flow. Which means do more of this in more areas.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU IGNORE YOUR BODY?
How frequently have you ignored pain?
How much time have you spent ignoring feelings, especially the bad ones?
Just like with a lot of other things, if you ignore pain for long enough, it becomes habitual to do so.
I am mostly talking about little niggles here. Which usually grow into bigger niggles when ignored.
Pain is a feedback mechanism. It isn't meant to be ignored for the most part. But pain is almost always treated as being the problem, rather than just a symptom.
"Just take these pills, and all the pain will just go away."
And that is useful in some contexts.
But generally speaking, especially in the context of fitness-related pain, there is a specific cause, or set of causes which are bringing on the pain. This pain is not to be ignored. That will make it worse. And ignoring that pain doesn't mean you only learn to ignore the pain. You also teach yourself to ignore other sensations and feelings.
This pain will typically start as whispers. How long until your body is screaming to finally get your attention?
Foam rolling and self-massage is an invaluable way for teaching people to rediscover their body and to learn to listen to it, rather than ignoring it. Developing a practice of 10 minutes a day of self-massage can add up quite quickly to whole new sense of not only understanding your chronic pain, but also boosting feelings of overall awareness and balance, both in terms of internal and external stimuli.
If you need help dealing with your long-term athletic injuries and pain, please DM me to get started with properly taking care of it!
FOAM ROLLING LITERALLY ANY PART OF YOUR BODY CAN HELP TO PROMOTE TOTAL RELAXATION!
When we create slow, gentle, massaging pressure along our skin and muscles, along with a plethora of other effects, it slows down the rate of firing in your nerves. It seems that 2 to 3 minutes is the minimum amount of time to start creating this response. This leads to quite a few effects:
Boosts sensations of drowsiness and relaxation.
Lowers heart rate.
Decreases rate of breathing and the depth of your breaths.
Lowers body temperature.
Lowers blood pressure.
And that's amazing. So give yourself 5 to 10 minutes a day of self-massage, rolling out whatever you like.
LYMPH FLOW IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS BLOOD FLOW!
Lymph is something that does not get talking about enough in the fitness space. Lymph, the fluid of your lymphatic system, helps to transport and dispose of wastes such as cellular debris from wounds, bacteria and viruses.
Lymph vessels run alongside your blood vessels, and just like your veins, they do not pump themselves. They require external massage, typically from adjacent muscles, to move their fluid through.
And lack of movement can cause stagnant Lymph.
Stagnant lymph means a build up a waste.
A build up of waste means more inflammation in your body, more swelling, and more stress. All quite possibly in ways you can't even really feel.
So when you perform foam rolling and self-massage, you are also encouraging your body to have a stronger immune system.
And that's a win.
BLOOD FLOW IS ACTUALLY REALLY IMPORTANT!
When we foam roll, the effects of it will happen whether we want them to or not. Science happens. Regardless of your knowledge or beliefs.
But if we can better understand all the little factors of self-massage/foam rolling, we can be empowered to make little tweaks which make the massage more potent.
Knowledge is power.
When we foam roll, we place pressure not just on the muscles but also on the blood vessels. Your veins do not pump by themselves. They require external movement, such as via muscles during movements, to effectively pump. This is not to say that being still will make your blood instantly pool. That obviously doesn't happen.
But with enough years of being stagnant, veins can swell and stop pumping blood well. This is called varicose veins. Or spider veins.
This means you have to devote resources to making more blood vessels to circumnavigate the stagnant parts. Overall, blood flow can be impaired and this could possibly contribute to hypertension.
Using a foam roller is a safe and highly efficacious way of promoting better blood flow. This is super useful after exercise when your tissues can be left quite stiff and swollen.
BANDS CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE IN YOUR RANGE OF MOTION AND JOINT PAIN!
Here is how to us them effectively:
1. Bands are elastic. When they get stretched, they want to pull back to center. You can wrap them around your wrist to pull on your elbow and shoulder in a variety of positions.
Or around your hip or ankle to pull on your leg joints in a variety of positions.
2. Place yourself in a stable position with enough of a stretch in the band that the band will literally pull you over if you lose your footing.
3. COMPLETELY RELAX! Let the band pull you. Do not try to pull the band. This is the whole point.
Click the link in my BIO for my YouTube channel where you can find tons of video demonstrations.
A big part of what you are doing with banded stretches is really mobilising and opening up the relevant joints. Which is why we often call it banded distraction. Distraction is physiology speak for "gently pulling joints apart."
You are also moving around a structure called the joint capsule, a structure which helps to hold virtually all your joints together like a cast. This joint capsule can become dehydrated and stuck just like most of your other tissues. And typical static stretching and even dynamic stretching doesn't adequately move this around, hence why banded distractions can be so powerful for improving your ability to move.
It isn't always "tight" muscles.
STRENGTH TRAINING HELPS TO INCREASE TOTAL MOBILITY.
In fact, having sufficient strength can prevent your nerves from being hyperactive and creating stiffness to protect you.
Practicing lifting heavy ass weights also drastically helps to boost joint health. Assuming that you aren't keeping incredibly tense joints 24/7 and thus never allowing them to heal and grow stronger.
Being strong AF also gives you a lot more confidence in actually using your body, thereby giving you ample time and chances to practice fuller ranges of motion more frequently.
It isn't about flexibility. It's about being able to do everything a human being should be able to do.
CHRONIC INJURIES ARE MISERABLE
I believe that the athlete, whether recreational or professional, should be living pain and injury free.
I believe that virtually all chronic, musculoskeletal injuries are completely fixable and even preventable in most cases.
I believe that YOU don't deserve to live in pain and with repeat injuries, even if you are performing at a high level.
With a combination of high quality deep tissue work, joint manipulation, strength training and whole lot more, E.H. Mobility will get you rehabbed and stronger than you were before the injuries!
Get into contact (DM, comment on here, call or email!) and let's get an initial appointment setup!
See you soon!
Try not to over-think things.
Video coming up tomorrow with demonstration!
Many of us are familiar with RICE as it pertains to athletic injuries.
Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.
What is less commonly known is that the physician who came up with this extremely well known, well-used protocol came out several years back to say that this protocol isn't really what's best. In fact, it actually slows down healing. Look up Dr. Gabe Mirkin for more info on that.
And it's true. Ice will make an injury feel better for the same reason that pain killers do. Ice makes you numb. You can't feel much of anything when you are sufficiently numb.
Pain is a signal that tells your body you need extra attention somewhere. For the most part, you shouldn't ignore it. Really, you should learn to embrace it and really feel pain, within reason.
When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I was to be taking pain meds for the next week, because thats how long victim's of this surgery typically remain in pain.
I didn't take a single one of those. And I was in a lot of pain after the anaesthesia wore off. I couldn't sleep that night, but I laid there and endured the pain and swelling.
And except for eating being awkward for a while, I was no longer living in pain after about 24 hours from the surgery.
Instead of taking pain pills, I massaged around my jaw, my neck and my face periodically. Just a few minutes at a time maybe every hour or so. And afterwards I would try to clench my jaw. Within reason and not to the point that it was excruciating.
Blood and movement heals. Get an injury moving ASAP and it will heal ASAP. If you instead immobilise it for 2 to 6 weeks, you will stiffen up, become weaker and slower, healing will slow significantly, swelling can become semi-permanent, and then that will leave you with a whole host of other factors to heal from in addition to the injury.
TAKE YOUR TIME WITH YOUR MOBILITY WORK
Too many people treat their cooldown as a quick and fast routine. Even if you are in a hurry, moving slowly is going to provide vastly improved benefits, especially when it comes to any self-massage drills.
So it's OK if you only have 5 minutes to cooldown after your workout. Instead of trying to cram in 15 drills in those 5 minutes, just include 1 or 2 to take you through the entire 5 minutes.
Set a time and aim to spend 2-3 minutes per drill. Not 10-30 seconds.
If boredom is a problem, don't worry, you'll get used to it.
It's good for you to mellow out from time to time. And to have patience.
MASSAGE YOUR BICEPS!!
That's all. Get a massage ball, spend 3 tonight minutes per arm. Also, make em stronger.
Does Foam Rolling work? Some physio's say it's a waste of time. Some people also haven't got a clue how they work. And so their advice is a waste of time.
FOAM ROLLING DOESNT WORK!.....Why are we still discussing this? Here is the TL;DR:Foam rolling/self-massage is incredibly useful. It is also context-dependent, like any other mobility tool. You need to understand how and ...
BE PATIENT AND STICK TO YOUR REHAB FOR LONGER THAN YOU THINK YOU SHOULD
Too often fixing a chronic injury or something similar is based entirely on your perception of pain, and patients will frequently stop doing any amount of rehab once the pain stops. Sometimes, therapists will reinforce this idea.
Look, sometimes I can take someone with terrible back pain from a strain during deadlifting, work on them for ten minutes, and have them feeling good as new. That happens sometimes. But pain is not the point. Pain means something needs to change.
We then need to work together for a month or more on developing better awareness of position, better strength, and better long-term range of motion. And creating a habit out of all that will take AT LEAST a month, probably longer.
Be patient. The real question is not "Pain yes/no?"
The real question is "PERFORMANCE yes/no?"
GET A DAILY ROUTINE
If you do not yet have a daily mobility routine, here is what you start with:
1. Make your feet naked.
2. Get a massage ball. If you don't have one, just grab any small ball. A glass bottle could also work.
3. Set a time for 2 minutes.
4. Slowly, gently, massage the bottom of 1 foot for the two minutes.
5. Repeat on the other foot.
That's it. Simple. Extremely effective. No excuses.
GET STRONGER FEET
It's so easy to ignore them. You've gone your entire life not loving the part of your body that carries you from point A to point B. Until you have an issue. Any painful problem with feet sucks. Whether that's a splinter, plantar fasciitis, a pebble in your boot, or an ankle strain.
Fortunately, for the musculoskeletal problems, we can fix and prevent most of the pain pretty easily.
Here is what you do:
1. Get a soft, grippy massage ball
2. Get barefoot.
3. Roll your foot atop the massage ball. Get some gentle but deep pressure. Don't hurt yourself, but aim for some discomfort.
4. Spend 2-3 minutes doing per foot. Every single day.
It's that easy.
ARE YOUR ANKLES MOBILE?
Ankle range of motion isn't just flexion and extension. Moving forward and moving backwards. To be strong, ankles, and your arches, NEED to be able to SPIN.
Not spin around in circles, just spin a little bit outwards so that you can create power and tension in the area. If your feet are slack, you cannot create as much power when squatting, deadlifting, lunging, jumping, snatching...basically anything.
Are your shins able to rotate out? Or do they stay pretty stuck pointing straight ahead?
When your joints don't have full range of motion, their health will deteriorate over the years, whether you are staying in shape or not.
Certainly lifting weights and staying strong helps. It helps a ton. But the joint inflammation and pain we see in sedentary populations is the same joint inflammation and pain that we see in our Crossfitters and other athletes. A tight joint is a tight joint.
If you experience chronic joint pain (been happening for a month or more), what part of your body is it in? Anything you've done to help it or is it feeling like a lost cause?