Author: Rocky Snyder

Simple Machines

It’s funny, I learned all about simple machines in 9th grade physics class. There are six machines: the lever, pulley, inclined plane, screw, wedge, and wheel and axle. When they are combined together they become known as compound machines. I never thought that I would be using these machines when it came to personal training or helping those with chronic pain. I was wrong. The joints of the body are classified as levers. The muscles and tendons wrap around joints and acts as pulleys to provide mechanical advantage when lifting our body or other heavy objects. We even use incline planes to stretch calf muscles. For the past ten years I have been using small foam wedges under the feet of clients to improve their bodies ability to move with more efficiency and connectivity. This is performed in the training and rehab environments. Such a simple device and yet so powerful. 

There are three primary purposes when it comes to these foam wedges. The first is simply to fill in space under the foot that should not be present. The foot is similar to a tripod. We have three primary points of contact at the base of the foot: the ball of the foot by the big toe (first metatarsal head), the ball of the foot by the little toe (the fifth metatarsal head), and the center of the heel (calcaneus). Provided we maintain proper contact at these three points then that will help create a stable platform and encourage an ideal chain reaction up through the entire body.

The second purpose is to encourage bone and joint motion. The wedge is an inclined plane or ramp. When the wedge is placed under an area of the foot, it can stimulate motion down the ramp; in essence speeding up movement in a certain direction. If the wedge were to be spun around in the opposite direction it would encourage that area to slow down. Therefore the wedge can alter the rate of speed and direction of joint motion which is sometimes needed to disrupt patterns of compensation.

The third purpose is to provide the brain and central nervous system with proprioceptive feedback. Proprioception is the body’s ability to know where it is in space and where it is going. Often times injuries, surgeries, shifts in posture and a host of other events can affect our bodies proprioceptive feedback to the brain. When this occurs the brain must begin to change how we move and support ourselves. This can also lead to compromised ways of moving which may lead to chronic pain issues.

There are other purposes of using the wedges. Yet, that is not something to explain at this time. It gets a bit more complicated and involves the relationships different areas of the body have with one another. I will just state that placing a wedge under the someone’s foot has proven to unlock a stiff neck, a frozen shoulder, remove back pain, and a host of other experiences. Suffice to say, simple machines are powerful tools and are items to have in your toolbox.

Are You A Swinger?

I love my Indian clubs. If you do not know what they are, and you have any shoulder or neck trouble, you really should get to know then. The clubs have been around for over 5,000 years. Originally used as weapons, now they are used for improving and maintaining healthy shoulders, elbows, wrists, and necks. 

Most movements practiced with the clubs are circular. The centrifugal force that is created by swinging helps to create space in joints for movement that is more clean and free. The weight of clubs vary. I recommend beginning with 1 or 1 ½ pound clubs. There are a variety of movements and can be an integral part of your workout routine. 

When I was training to paddle the 28.5 miles across Monterey Bay on my prone paddle board it was the club routine that kept my shoulders happy and healthy.

I have created several short instructional videos for the beginner on my YouTube channel, Rocky Snyder, CSCS. Check out the entire playlist:

I also recorded an hour long Indian Club workshop I gave a couple of years ago. Check it out HERE 

The benefits of play and boredom

I was recently asked to help my daughter with a school project. She needed to interview someone about their childhood and organized sports. So that is what I’m writing about today. I grew up on the playground, on the Boston & Maine rail line, and not a bit in organized sports. The only organizing of sports were what my friends and I decided to play after school. I was more or less a decathlete when it came to sports and activities. I was good at whatever we decided to do but rarely ever the best. I just liked to play. Being a single sport athlete was something unheard of in my childhood. We played pick up games; pure and simple. In the fall it was football or frisbee or basketball. In the winter it was pond hockey or street hockey when it wasn’t cold enough for the pond to freeze. In the spring as the snow was melting and the mud was building we walked and balanced on the railroad tracks and threw rocks at empty bottles under the bridge rather than in a pitching cage. 

We shoveled snowy driveways in the winter and raked countless bags of leaves in the fall. We were active kids and never experienced injuries that required orthopedic surgeons. Tommy John was a young pitcher, not a surgical procedure. 

Today is a much different story for our youth. Too many kids are encouraged by coaches and families to participate in one sport throughout the entire year. There a few things worse you could offer your kids. Their bodies and developing brains need novelty, not highly repetitive actions. If you want to ensure burnout at an early age then keep taking your kids to soccer practice year round. Instead, be sure to allow them to simply play in an unorganized fashion. Let them be bored. Do not overload their schedule. Kids need to be kids, not young Tommy Johns. That is my rant for the day. Now go forth and do something novel.

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

COVID Silver Linings

Over the past three years our business has survived a global pandemic, a tsunami, tidal waves, massive flooding, extremely poor air quality due to woodland fires all over the state, a government sanctioned shut down of all “non-essential” business (gyms were shut down but not donut shops or liquor stores). Every day we got up and faced whatever was thrown at us. We figured out a way to continue.

We went online with our personal training and group classes. Once we were allowed to re-open we created individual workout stations to keep clients apart and as safe as possible. Then the Fourth of July occurred and the COVID cases spiked, forcing us to conduct business curbside. Then the woodland fires hit and the air outside turned unhealthy, forcing us once again to be exclusively online. The rollercoaster ride continued yet we stayed on the ride until it was over.

Hopefully the ride has come to a stop and what remains are silver linings to the dark cloud of COVID. We redesigned the layout of our training facility. We have four workout “pods” that contain all the equipment a person needs for a complete workout. Also in each pod are electronic tablets that display a client’s workout routine. Changes can be made on the spot and notes can be typed out to provide the most effective, individualized routine for each client.

We have also maintained our online coaching and currently have clients well beyond the Central Coast. We have helped clients across the country and internationally mitigate chronic pain and become more fit. We also produce two successful podcasts directly out of our studio. The Rock Fit Files focuses on a wide range of topics within the world of Health & Fitness. Episodes air on Thursdays at 5pm EST / 2pm PST.

The Zelos Podcast is a show that’s all about the “Pros behind the Pros”. Every Monday morning (9am EST / 6am PST) I get to have intriguing conversations with strength coaches, physical therapists, manual therapists, athletic trainers, performance directors, and a host of other professionals in professional sports. The Zelos Podcast is currently in its 9th season. It is heard by thousands of listeners in over 50 countries. Guests from the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, and MLS are the usual guests.

I guess the past three years really boils down to making a decision on a daily basis. Are you going to stand up and face what comes at you and ask yourself “How will we get through this successfully?” Or will you say “I can’t!” As far as we are concerned, can’t is the only four letter word not allowed at RFC.

Continue reading

On the Road Again

Breaking away from your daily habit can often be frustrating, especially when it comes to regular exercise. Waking up and going for a run or hitting the gym does not take too much effort it is something that has become routine. However, many people struggle with maintaining this routine when away on business or vacation. It is much easier to throw your hands up in surrender and just understand you will return to your normal ways when you get back home. This does not have to be your reality. If you are a runner be sure to pack your running shoes and the rest of your gear. Check the weather reports to prepare for your running environment. Map out a route using google maps that takes you by interesting sights. You might want to create a new playlist so you can have some fresh tunes to experience while running in foreign lands.

If you hit the gym at home you can always look for a gym in the area and set up a guest membership and an online RFC personal training session prior to arrival. RFC also has out-of-town workouts through our program design software, Teambuildr. We can set you up with a routine to follow that can be made up of only bodyweight moves or simple equipment found in every hotel workout room. All you need to do is activate your free account and follow along on your smart device. The program has videos attached to explain every movement.

So you see there is no reason to put your health and wellness on hold when you leave town. We are here to help you continue down the path to success no matter in what time zone you find yourself.

Continue reading

A Turn on the Path

You never know when a simple turn of events will grant you opportunities that you would never dream of occurring. This past weekend my daughter was scheduled to audition for a local playhouse but, at the last minute, she decided to attend her team’s soccer match instead. As I sat on the sidelines watching her team play (more like yelling encouragement like any soccer dad would), an older man walked up behind me. He asked if this was a practice or a match because he was wanting to stroll around the field. I explained it was a match between Santa Cruz and Stanford. He continued to ask questions. Without wanting to appear rude I turned to face him. He was all decked out in Stanford attire. I jokingly said that I could guess who he would be rooting for.

As the conversation showed no signs of abating, I reached out my hand and introduced myself. He reciprocated and I realized just who this older man was. His name was Skip Kenney, legendary swim coach for Stanford University. Skip coached the men’s swim team from 1979-2012. According to Wikipedia, “In his 33-year dynasty, he coached his teams to Pac-10 Conference titles 31 years in a row, itself a conference record, and to 7 NCAA championships.” Skip was also the assistant swim coach during the 1984 & 1988 Olympics in Los Angeles and Seoul, Korea, respectively. He then became the head Olympic men’s swim coach for the 1996 Atlanta Games. He was also inducted into Stanford University’s Hall of Fame alongside Bill Walsh (coach of the Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49’ers). His list of accomplishments stretch further than the pools he coached his athletes in.

I instantly understood that in this moment a learning experience was laid at my feet. I asked him question after question about his background, his coaching experience, his “secret” behind such a successful dynasty. He replied in a very nonchalant fashion with humility and grace. I ate up every word and appreciated the willingness he had to share his thoughts and insight. Before I knew it an hour had past and he showed no sign of tiring.

Here was this man in his seventies just out for an afternoon walk who just happened to stop and ask a simple question. Had my daughter decided to go to the audition, this amazing interaction would never have occurred. I love it when events like this serendipitously happen. When you least expect it.

This leads me to ask a question: How often do we miss these opportunities? We will never know for sure but if we maintain a level of willingness and awareness the chance of future events occurring may increase our odds. Come to think of it, how many people do we walk past without extending our hand or saying hello? Sometimes just one little question to a stranger can create a lasting memory. Everyone has a story from which you can learn something. You just have to be present to receive it.

Continue reading

Dana’s Weight Loss Journey — Featured Staff Member January 2021

I have been overweight most of my life, as a child, teen and adult.  As a child I was a little chubby; baby fat, people would say. As a teen, a little more chubby; hormones, they would say. As an adult, having babies, Hashimoto’s, they would say.  ENOUGH, I said!  And started on a journey of healthful eating, and some exercise, along with a meditation and mindfulness practice.  Wow!

Food, exercise, self-care – I found the right balance that works for my body and brain.  I did not struggle with the weight loss and have not struggled with maintenance, even through a pandemic, fires, relocation of our business and all the goods that come along with each of those. 

I created new habits, new ways of managing my time, and eat foods that fuels my body.  I have peace around my body and the food I eat in a way I never thought would exist for me.  I am so grateful for the support of Rocky, who cooks dinner every night, and has supported my journey from day 1 through today, day 507.  My kids, Jack and Madi, know how to make my breakfast, lunch and dinner, which they often do to help me when I need it.

I appreciate the acknowledgment and compliments and noticing from clients, friends and family.  It really does take a village for us all to be our best selves. 

Here is what I know today that I didn’t know 507 days ago:

  • I am worth the work.
  • If you work it, it works.
  • One day, meal, minute at a time.
  • The support of my family is needed and unending.
  • I did it!  And, if I can do it, anyone can!

Some people wait until their whole life is in order to start something that is difficult. You don’t need to wait. Life’s never going to put you in a position where you’ll be ready.

You just have to jump in.

Continue reading

Get Started

Check Us Out for 6 Weeks!

One time only for NEW clients: 1 private coaching appointment, 5 personal training appointments & unlimited group training classes!

Hours of Operation
Monday-Friday: 6:00 AM–7:00 PM
Saturday: 8:00 AM–12:00 PM
Sunday: Closed

Contact RFC

Rehab • Fitness • Conditioning

(831) 854-2130
2001 40th Avenue, Suite C
Capitola, CA 95010

© Copyright 2023 RFC: Rehab, Fitness, Conditioning | Website By: Tree Top Web Design