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Month: February 2023

Magic? No, Science!

I had an online session with a new client recently. She was an equestrian and competed in dressage recreationally. She had a few complaints such as chronic pain in the balls of her feet, mid back compression pain from being hit in the back by a bale of hay, and left shoulder pain that kept her from sleeping on her side. She had also gone through foot surgery on both big toes decades ago and had bore three children via c-sections. 

After creating a timeline of this client’s life in regards to her surgeries, injuries, and accidents, we went through a postural assessment. Like everyone else, she had shifted here and there in a subconscious attempt to find the best resting place for a body that has experienced a unique life. She tended to bear more weight on her right and when observing her walk she landed quickly and heavily on her right; perhaps to get off the left foot that had been troubling her more.

Next we broke down her gait into chunks. We assessed how she moved her pelvis, her ribs, and her shoulders. She struggled to rotate her pelvis right and her ribs left. It was about this time that she remembered an incident involving a frisbee many years ago. Movement has a wonderful way of triggering memories. Trauma can be often suppressed. It happens almost every time I assess someone. Something is remembered. In her case, she was hit by the flying disc near her left eye. It had caused permanent damage. Her vision on her left had been affected by the hit and still lingered these many years later.

As we assessed shoulder motion she turned her head to the right almost imperceptibly every time regardless of which shoulder was moving. Could she be subconsciously turning away from her left due to her old injury? A curious hypothesis for sure. I asked her to take her eyes to the left and try her shoulder assessment again. Immediate improvement and no head turning! Had she been avoiding taking her eyes to the left and reconfigured her posture and movements to accommodate too?

I asked her to bring her left leg forward in a split stance. This would encourage her hips to turn right and her upper body left. As we moved in and out of this position she felt tremendous relief in areas that were troubling her. Muscles that were short began to lengthen, muscles that were stretched out began to relax to a shorter resting length. The pain in the balls of her feet were alleviated.

We continued down this logical path and came up with two movements that would encourage her to safely explore her left side and look left. Her mid back suddenly got an adjustment. Her left shoulder began to relax and feel softer and more at ease. Her hips began to also soften and relax so that when she walked she was no longer crashing down on her right.

The underlying cause and resultant effect of chronic pain is astounding and an observer might call the work we do magic. Magic is a word used when we do not understand what is happening. However, once you get a full knowledge of the body, how it is meant to move and stand, and how the brain negotiates with previous experiences, it is not magic at all; it’s science!

Going Viral

I have been creating video content for more than a decade. Mainly the videos are about various exercises, how to perform movements, how to assess the body, and the intricacies of human biomechanics. My most popular video was about brain training and has received about 35,000 views on YouTube. 

Since COVID emerged I have also produced two different podcasts: the Rock Fit Files and the Zelos Podcast. I typically have conversations with trainers, physical therapists, and performance coaches inside the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS. The audience has grown into the thousands and the podcasts can be heard in over 50 countries. Nevertheless, none of the content I have created has come close to the video I took last month and have attached to this blog. It has been viewed by over 300,000 and the number keeps climbing.

During the atmospheric river that homed in on the Central Coast at the beginning of 2023, Santa Cruz County received the worst of it. Rivers crested over flood stage levels. King tides and massive waves of 20-30 feet slammed into shore and annihilated houses, wharfs, and roadways. The damage was severe enough to receive a visit from President Biden and the media. Only days before his visit I stood but a hundred yards away from where he would be standing and I captured a different event that has gone viral.

My son Jack had been helping me pile sandbags at his friend’s house along the Soquel Creek which flows into Capitola Village and out to sea. We watched the waves at high tide push past the restaurants and the damaged wharf. Many waves came in at such an angle that they flowed up the rushing river to create a tidal bore. Jack ran to the van, pulled on his wetsuit, grabbed his surfboard and headed for the river. I hiked up to the top of the railroad trestle with my phone and took the video of him catching waves upriver. As soon as it hit social media it went crazy. His wave ride has been seen all over the world and has definitely given us a laugh or two.

This is not to imply that I will be changing my content to cute puppy dogs wrestling, babies laughing or extreme sports. I will continue to grind out information on movement and it’s positive effects. However, just once I’d love it if one of the more informative videos gets the same reaction as surfing up a chocolate river.

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Stay Hydrated

We often hear how the average American lacks the proper amount of sleep. The same could be said about hydration. It does not matter which season we are in or how hot or cold the temperature is, staying properly hydrated is important every day of the year. Not only will drinking more water help with athletic pursuits but can improve functions of everyday life. Here are 5 other reasons to stay hydrated:

  1. Brain Health & Performance. Be slightly dehydrated can affect memory, executive functioning, your mood, and reaction time. Drinking one or two more glasses of water each day could help with emotions and anxiety.
  2. Weight Management. Maintaining an ideal level of hydration can have a positive effect on weight loss. Having water in between meals can help with decreasing appetite and increase your metabolism.
  3. Lubricates Aching Joints. Drinking enough water can supply necessary fluids to joints to keep friction low. The wear and tear may be reduced simply by stopping by the water fountain more often.
  4. Detox the Body. Water helps carries waste products from the kidneys to the bladder and out the body. Having enough water allows this to occur at healthier levels than when you are dehydrated.
  5. Decreased Headaches. The brain depends on proper hydration also. Not having enough water can pull the brain away from the skull and lead to headaches and migraines.

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Parkinson’s Disease and Lower Leg Injuries

I used to teach an exercise class at a local hospital. It was called “Exercise for People Living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD)”. It turned out to be a fascinating learning experience. Not for the students but for the teacher. Up until that point I had only worked with a handful of personal training clients who were living with PD. I familiarized myself with the needs of that population in terms of exercise, but it was only when I taught the class that I really explored deeper.

I sifted through dozens of medical websites for insight and advice. I also looked into the various organizations that focus on Parkinson’s Disease for fitness related topics. However, one area I was not expecting to receive information was Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). As it turned out there was a local professor of TCM who had suggested there exists a correlation between lower limb trauma and Parkinson’s Disease. She used a form of acupuncture and massage called Tui Na (Twee-Nah) to treat her patients with notable success. Tui Na is perhaps the oldest form of massage originating from Ancient China. The hypothesis, as I understand, is that when someone experiences significant trauma to the lower leg, the channels of energy (nerve pathways?) are disrupted and this potentially leads to Parkinson’s Disease. Tui Na attempts to restore the proper energy channels. The outcome is a reduction of symptoms of the disease and, in some cases, allows the person to reduce doses of medication.

When I first read this I tried to find more information about the correlation in medical websites and the PD websites. I did not find anything referring to the hypothesis. However, when I asked the two classes of students in the hospital almost every single student said they had experienced some kind of lower leg injury. I was stunned.

Since then I have had several clients with Parkinson’s Disease and every single clients has a history of lower limb trauma; no exception. Therefore every program I design for these clients involves restoring function to the feet and legs; even if no symptoms of lower leg issues are present. Get the feet to feel and communicate with the rest of the body and some truly amazing things can occur. I am not saying that this is in any a cure or treatment. I will leave that for the doctors. I only know that movement is an ingredient in the recipe for success.

Here is something I recently found when searching on the internet: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10513097/

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