Vancouver Yoga Review Author Featured On The Georgia Straight!

Vancouver Yoga Review Author Featured On The Georgia Straight!

Vancouver Yoga Review author, Sarah Jamieson, is currently featured on the cover of the Georgia Straight magazine. This inspiring yoga teacher and movement coach is running for the world to raise money for charity:

Nearly a decade ago, the North Vancouver native made it her goal to raise $1 million for charity by the time she hit 35, a venture she’s dubbed Run for a Cause. Now 32, she’s raised almost $800,000, logging thousands of kilometres running at home and abroad to support organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Vancouver Police Foundation, and Engineers Without Borders, among many others […]

Read the full article here or pick up a print copy. Congrats Sarah!

Part 1: How Can Developmental Patterns Improve Your Performance?

Understanding the most basic patterns of human movement starts with understanding developmental patterns and how these patterns build upon each other in a neuro-developmental sequence. Throughout our life it can be advantageous for us to spend time revisiting these developmental patterns to break up compensations and restrictions in movement.

Photo from: On Target Publications

Photo from: On Target Publications

What are developmental patterns?

During infancy, these primitive patterns include rolling over from belly to back, moving away from our base of support we begin to become aware of our spine and how to move a little body under the weight of the head. From here, we learn to crawl then walk.

As adults the most fundamental activities of the human body revolve around simple and basic patterns such as; running, climbing and bounding.

The developmental patterns include the following:

  1. Supine & Prone
  2. Quadruped
  3. Tall & Half Kneeling
  4. Standing

This week is the first of 4 articles in of our “Ground Foundations” programs. Let’s start with the most basic posture, supine and prone. Supine, Meaning laying on your back and prone meaning laying on your belly.

Developmental Pattern #1: Supine & Prone Rolling Pattern

The Spine is designed to move, yet many of us compensate by moving more in one segment and less in another. Moving those segments creates changes to the neuromuscular support around that particular segment. It may free up some muscle tone and allow you to move through your spine a little bit better, but it will not last unless it’s combined with sequential release patterns.

Apart from mobility, we also need to address the other side of the proverbial coin and that’s stability.

Perry Nickleston, of Stop Chsaing Pain states it best; “What is the missing component? Stability – the ability to control movement under change. Uncovering an underlying fundamental stability dysfunction is a critical foundation of functional movement patterning. Going back to primal basics of fundamental movement and core sequencing reveals just how vulnerable a client is to re-injury. In order to discover why clients are in pain, as opposed to just chasing their symptoms, one must look at core function and neural sequencing.

For a more detailed overview of rolling pattern, check out Perry Nickleston’s article “Primal Rolling Patterns for Core Sequencing and Development.”

Simply put, rolling pattern offers us the opportunity to re learn basic flexion and extension of the spine, with the integration of rotation. This can improve our ability to reflexively engage the intrinsic core muscles that stability spine. Moving from upper to lower body-rolling patterns also allows us to differentiate between upper and lower halves.

Upper body rolling pattern helps to bring a greater awareness to the thoracic spine, an area that often lacks the necessary mobility and causes the upper and lower segments of the spine to become sloppy or stiff.

Lower body rolling pattern:  helps to bring greater awareness to the lumbo pelvic hip complex, an area that is usually stiff. The lower back is meant to be stable, but if the hips are not mobile this can cause the lower back to become sloppy and the rhythm of the pelvis will be off.

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Remember that everything in our body is connected, much like a pulley system. Our bones are meant to float in our body, thus we must work to find optimal range in both the joint and their associated tissues in all developmental patterns.

The main role of movement and performance is to sense, adapt and respond to stimulus in a way that saves energy and produces force. This is how movement naturally develops.

However, movement changes over time. Lifestyle habits, postural changes and stress cause significant limitations and asymmetries in our movement and tissues. This significantly increases risk in performance and our health.

Revisiting developmental patterns can be used as a screening tool to help identify limitations and asymmetries. This is what it means to test for durability.

Stay tuned for next week’s article focused on the Quadruped posture. For a complete 4 week program on working through the developmental patterns, please check out and subscribe to Onnit Academy On Demand, on my Durability Channel. The Supine and Prone program starts this September.

Sources:

  • Functional Movement Systems
  • Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA, Stop Chasing Pain
  • Onnit Academy Durability

Review: Onnit Academy Durability On Demand

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 4.36.32 PMA comprehensive library of tools for joint and tissue health at your fingertips 24/7! There are so many online programs these days for every niche in the health and wellness industry, and it can be hard to navigate which ones are truly best for you and, or your clients wellbeing.

When it comes to mobility and ensuring the health of tissues and joints, it’s important to choose a program that aims at recovery and longevity. Not just standard warm up and cool downs for training days. Recovery is the key to ensuring you move well without pain or restriction for not only the long haul of your sport, but for your life.

Why is joint health so important?

Inevitably, each of us is subjected to the experience of aging and its detrimental impact on quality of life. The degradation of joint and tissue health are a large part of what leads to the increase in chronic pain and reduction in function that people experience.

Why is tissue health important?

Our tissue over time starts to lose it’s viscosity and pliability. This means at the cellular level our tissue loses water and elasticity and becomes stiff over time. What this also means is that as we age, we must take more time and effort to reclaim that lost elasticity and mobility to the tissues that act upon our joints. By addressing mobility issues in both the tissues and the joints we can allow greater access to range and rotation which improves the overall durability of movement.

Prevention versus treatment:
As a corrective movement coach working in both the clinical as well as the performance arena’s for nearly 2 decades, I have learned that prevention is the KEY to longevity to any given sport, and of course in life. No matter what genre of the industry you work in:

– Sports Development
– Bodyweight Training
– Unconventional Training
– Mobility
– Corrective Exercise
– Strong Man
– Endurance
– WHATEVER!

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 7.40.47 AMThe one thing every sport, and of course life, has in common is the necessity for optimal recovery and sustaining durability over the long haul.

That is why I chose to create a comprehensive system of recovery strategies that are designed to provide the public with the tools through this systematic approach to maintain and improve the health of your joints and the tissues that support them.

 

Benefits to a Durability practice:

  • Learn to apply the Body Mapping process as a tool to regularly assess the current state of various joints and tissues.
  • Understand the impact of fascial health on longevity and performance.
  • Utilize ground based drills to help increase strength and skill in targeted movement skills.
  • Develop a systematic approach to Decompression as an integral part of a performance enhancement program
  • Release unwanted restrictive tension through the practice of a Restorative Mobility practice.

At the Onnit Academy, we would argue that having the tools to positively impact yourself and others with a comprehensive joint health program is likely to provide the greatest return on investment of any physical activity.

Let me introduce you to Onnit On Demand. As the Onnit Academy Durability Master Coach my hope is that these tools can help identify and address movement limitations, tissue and joint compensations, and even reduce pain.

If you are all about optimizing your health and vitality, and interested in learning how Durability and movement competency can translate, as well as compliment, other movement based systems of training out there, then this channel is for you!

I invite you to take my 4-week challenge.

For $9 a month, you will access to full 4 week programs that help you integrate recovery, decompression and movement preparation into your daily lifestyle. With educational tutorials, an e book and full length follow along videos you will start and end your day restoring movement.

Feel free to contact me at [email protected] for questions, comments or just a good ole chat!

Subscribe HERE.

Sources:

Onnit Academy Durability

Join Pain BC’s Day of MOVEment: Every Movement Counts For People In Pain

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AN EXCITING NEW FUNDRASIER COMES TO BC!

Pain BC’s Day of MOVEment, is a day to move – any and all kinds of movement count! Investing in your health and supporting the health of others has never been so easy.

Daily movement is vital to improving the quality of life for people living with pain. However, many of us have limitations and are unable to participate in a typical 5km run or walk. Plus, as a province-wide organization, we want to create an inclusive event that involves all British Columbians.

That’s why Pain BC has created a brand new event to raise money and awareness for chronic pain. No matter where you live or what your physical abilities are… you can get involved!

A DAY OF MOVEMENT SUNDAY JUNE 12TH, 2016

This day exists because Pain BC is dedicated towards promoting health in our community, as well as raising awareness for chronic pain. Your participation offers you the opportunity to do something healthy for yourself and support those who deal with chronic pain every day.

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JOIN OUR ONLINE MOVEMENT YOGA VIDEO

The Rise and Shine Video is designed for anyone and everyone – from beginners to advanced movers and shakers. Explore joint and tissue range through slow, progressive movements in standing and seated postures. This style of movement is a great way to start your day and shake off any stagnant energy!

Designed to be available in the comfort of your own home so you can access movement anytime, anywhere. We had a great time creating this video at Ocean Breath Yoga on Granville Island. There’s nothing more uplifting than being near the ocean on a beautiful day.

Start your day with this 38min movement video – Click Here. 

 

JOIN ONE OF OUR MOVEMENT CLASSES IN BCScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 9.39.05 AM

On Sunday June 12, 2016, join a MOVEment class at one of the participating studios. Yoga is not only about balancing the mind and body, but it’s also about fostering a connection with your community. No matter where you live, or what your schedule will be we have a class near you.

Thank you to all the studio’s providing karma classes and giving our community a boost in support!

For a list of yoga studios and classes near you – Click Here.

 

Your support can help Pain BC improve the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of British Columbians living with pain and transform how pain is recognized and treated. To date, Pain BC has done a lot with a little, effecting significant change in BC in a few short years. We’re poised to deepen our impact. With your support, we can build on our early wins, expand our reach, and increase our capacity to improve the lives of people living with pain.

We hope you’ll join the MOVEment! Because every move counts for people in pain. And if you are feeling extra passionate, why not consider donating to the cause. You can do so by – Clicking here. 

 

Find Out More About This Charity

3300-910 WEST 10TH AVENUE

JPPN 3

VANCOUVER, BC , V5Z 1M9

[email protected]

Visit our Web Site

 

The Science of Movement Part 1: Primal Patterns

Primal Patterns:

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Each of us is born into this world free of restriction with the blueprint to move. As infants, we are asked to earn our stability in the world as we learn how to crawl and then eventually walk.

As adults, the most fundamental activities of the human body should include basic movements such as; walking, climbing, crawling, running and bounding, without pain or restriction.

However, movement changes over time and many of these activities are lost and replaced by exercises in the gym, recreational sport on weekends, and occupational stress from the job with the traditional 9 – 5 profession..

Losing the ability to connect with that authentic movement of primal patterns changes how we move amongst our environment. Movement is really a measure of quality and preparation.

Movement is your gauge. It will tell you when things start to break down. Taking care of the negative repercussions that can occur from the adaptations in training, application of load, and challenging your body doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be practical and transferable to ensure you maintain the quality of life you desire.

Would you ever drive your car if it had a flat tire? Probably not. The same should be said for your body. If our body is the vehicle that carries us throughout our life, should we not take care of it?

Consider some of the common areas people feel restricted in on a daily basis:

  •   Common issues in the foot: People give up their stability.
  •   Common issues in the ankle: People give up their mobility.
  •   Common issues in the knee: People give up their stability.
  •   Common issues in the hip: People give up their mobility.
  •   Common issues in the low back People give up their stability.

It is safe to then say then; that as adults and as we age, we are asked to re-earn our mobility. The number one prerequisite for sensory pathways and learning new skills —proprioceptors and neurological connection—is appropriate mobility.

This loss of structural integrity and lack of range can over load the surrounding tissues creating stiffness, rigidity and a loss of durable elastic movement. Understanding this knowledge, as well as applying mobility tools to your practice provides the energy to keep going in a state of high quality.

Next week we will look at Durability and re integrating tissue and joint health into your daily practice.

Sources:

Functional Movement Systems

Durability Certification at The Onnit Academy 

Part 3: Sleep and Heart Rate Variability

Part 3: Sleep and Heart Rate Variability

Stress is our response to the daily patterns of life. It affects us emotionally, physically, and behaviorally. Our central nervous system does not differentiate between physical or mental stressors, nor does it differentiate between positive or negative stress.

The right amount of stress can be a positive force that can support us to do our best and to keep us alert, ambitious and energetic. However, too much stress, can make us tense, tired and anxious.

One of the fundamental components of recovery and ensuring you perform optimally is through monitoring 3 areas of your health. As we have mentioned, this includes, heart rate variability, resting heart rate and sleep.

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Why Should You Monitor Sleep?

Sleep is a major contributor to stress resilience. Sleep is absolute rest and a time when the body and mind are offered a chance to filter and file away the day. It’s also a time for the body and mind to shut down and recover. Without this optimal experience, we wither away.

Over the last 40 years, our society has gone from sleeping 7-9 hours per night, to an average of 5-6.7 hours per night. When we do not sleep long or well enough, our bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation. More importantly, the prolonged reduction of adequate sleep can lead to illness, disease and injury.

Sleep is regulated by two body systems: sleep/wake homeostasis and the circadian biological clock. It is important to keep a regular sleep schedule and allow plenty of time for quality sleep, allowing these two vital biological components — the sleep/wake restorative process and the circadian rhythm — to help us perform at our best. When this is altered or irregular sleeping habits are introduced, this can lead to poor productivity and poor health.

 

How Does Sleep Relate to Improving HRV?

A key role is played by the autonomic nervous system (ANS), whose modulation regulates cardiovascular functions during sleep onset and different sleep stages.

The influence of sleep on central sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity can be better understood by using the major method applicable to humans, known as HRV (heart rate variability), specifically looking at the low frequency (LF) component of heart rate variability (HRV).

We spend one third of our lifetime sleeping, yet the majority of people do not honor its importance. The interaction between ANS and sleep is somewhat complex, but simply put, any changes in ANS regulation can profoundly affect sleep onset and sleep homeostasis and, on the flip side, modifications of physiological sleep can alter autonomic cardiovascular regulation. Research has showed that sleep is a complex phenomenon in which autonomic cardiac control fluctuates between sympathetic and parasympathetic predominance, mainly according to the transition to different sleep stages. Deep sleep is essential for recovery and reducing neuro-inflammation caused by intolerable volumes of stress.

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How Can You Track Your Sleep?

Understanding your sleep phases and cycles is the best place to start monitoring your sleep. The first phase is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is normally repeated several times each night.

With the use of technology, almost anything is possible these days. There are many sleep trackers out there; such as, FitBit, Jawbone and most commonly used is “Sleep Cycle.”

I have been using this for nearly 2 years. Sleep Cycle is an iOS app that watches your sleep habits from your nightstand in order to help wake you up at the best possible time of the morning. Tracking your sleep can offer you insights into how well you sleep based on your movements.

Using a sleep tracker app with your HRV are two great ways to monitor your nervous system, and can validate your good habits and offer you a glimpse into some areas you should modify to improve your health and keep you accountable towards your goals.

Get it here: Sleep Cycle

Part 2: Screening Heart Rate Variability For Improved Health Optimization

Part 2: Screening Heart Rate Variability For Improved Health Optimization

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 12.05.44 PMThe autonomic nervous system (ANS) has been carefully developed and improved over the course of our evolution.

The ANS plays an important role not only in physiological situations, but also in various pathological settings. Autonomic imbalance is an increase in sympathetic activity and reduced vagal tone has been strongly linked to chronic pain, disease and illness.

Over the few years, HRV emerged in the health and wellness industry as a means to monitor, assess and test for optimal training and recovery zones in athletes and clients.

In last weeks article we introduced stress and the biochemical changes that can occur in our nervous system when stress becomes intolerable or prolonged. After researching recovery and stress resilience there seems to be 3 key screening protocols that can help give insight into a client’s stress tolerance and training optimization.

These 3 screening protocols were:

  1. Heart Rate Variability (HRV Advanced Analysis)
  2. Sleep Patterns
  3. Resting Heart Rate

Today we feature heart rate variability (HRV) as a simple and practical way of monitoring autonomic nervous system activity.

When looking to improve stress resilience we must consider all the physiological factors that contribute to stress, performance and recovery.

Knowledge is power, and understanding your scope of practice and what you can offer is one piece of the optimization pie. Having a referral network offers you a greater advantage to support your client’s overall health and wellness. Always consider the physiological building blocks. Here are a few we feel are the top building blocks to a client’s success.

Top 10 physiological building blocks:

  1. Central Nervous System & Autonomic Nervous System
  2. Cardio-Respiratory System
  3. Neuro-Muscular System (movement efficiency)
  4. Fascial System Integration
  5. Energy Systems: alactic anaerobic, lactic anaerobic and aerobic
  6. Hormonal Systems & Stress Response
  7. Hydration & Detoxification Systems
  8. Immune System
  9. Brain-Body Loop (Psychoneuroimmunology related systems)
  10. Brain-Body Link (Mental health & cognitive health)

The ANS & Stress Resilience:

Allostasis is our Sympathetic (fight or flight, survival) and Parasympathetic (calming, rest and digest) nervous systems automatic response to external environmental and psychological triggers. These stress responses affect blood glucose, adrenal activation, glucocorticoid/cortisol, testosterone and the digestive system.

In a nutshell, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves carry efferent (motor) signals to the heart and afferent signals to the brain for reflex functions.  Parasympathetic nerves slow heart rate through the release of acetylcholine.  Sympathetic nerves accelerate heart rate and force of contraction through the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine from nerve terminals and the adrenal glands.

In a well-rested athlete the body will make micro-adjustments to heart rate based on breathing patterns as well as other physiological processes. The better your vagus nerve innervates your heart, the stronger your vagal tone which is a direct indicator of the health of your sympathetic (fight or flight response) and parasympathetic (rest and recover) nervous system.

HRV has a direct connection to your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and can therefore be used to gain insights into your stress resilience and functioning of your overall nervous system.

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Heart Rate Variability:

Basic Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the degree of fluctuation and change in time between successive heartbeats (also called inter-beat intervals, R-R intervals, N-N intervals, etc.).

HRV differs from traditional resting Heart Rate (HR) that averages the number of heart beats per minute. HRV looks much closer at the small fluctuations of the heart that occur in response to internal and external stimulus.

A high HRV can be an indication of a healthy autonomic and cardiovascular response; and it can also tell you if your client is currently training at optimal levels. Understanding how to build and peak your client, as well as when to program for recovery and de loading is critical to ensure your client is always progressing.

A low HRV could be an indication of age-related system depletion, chronic stress, pathology, or inadequate functioning in various levels of self-regulatory control systems. It can also be an indicator of intolerable volumes in training, which can result in overtraining or undertraining.

A low HRV reading for a prolonged period can also be a red flag. Keeping in mind that HRV is only a glimpse at internal functioning and cannot tell you your client’s glycogen levels, testosterone levels, CNS fatigue, or if there is illness. Therefore, if there is a prolonged low HRV and you have adjusted training volume with no improvement there may be other issues at hand. The largest advantage of HRV analysis is that it can give you the signal that something needs to change or validate that your training volume is optimizing your client’s health.

HRV Technology:

HRV technology makes it easy and practical for any trainer or healthcare provider to implement into their daily routine. In thinking about the hardware and software tools that are currently available, there are many out there but prices range significantly.

The top tested are Omegawave, Bioforce, ithlete HeartMath and Elite HRV systems. They are all best suited for those who want to use HRV monitoring for the “short term reading” application.

At Moveolution, we have chosen Elite HRV as it is the most economical and practical for our business and our clients. The technical support has been exceptional and the design of the online and mobile system is attractive, easy to navigate, collect data and interpret for our clients. All you need is a heart rate monitor strap and the mobile app. 1-3 readings per day to collect the data and our coaches do the rest!

For trainers and coaches interested in knowing more about the application of HRV and integration into your business model, or just for your own health and performance we will be offering an online monthly HRV analysis webinar series in December of 2015. For more information email Sarah Jamieson at [email protected]

Next week we will look at sleep patterns and why sleep and restorative rest is integral to optimizing recovery and performance.

How To Turn Stress Into A Strength: Know Your Nervous System

How To Turn Stress Into A Strength: Know Your Nervous System

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Stress changes the very structure and function of your brain. Your nervous system cannot distinguish whether stress is mental or physical – thus when stress is present, every movement, thought and reaction is altered.

With that being said stress can be positive (eustress) or negative (distress); therefore, how we react and respond to stress ultimately becomes the primer for living an optimal lifestyle.

Positive and Negative Stress:

Distress or negative stress directly relates to high levels of stress that we cannot recover from. This can include overtraining and the physical stress of intolerable volumes or loads; as well as trauma and prolonged mental and emotional stress.

Eustress or positive stress directly relates to tolerable levels of physical and psychological stress like sport and exercise, meditation and things we enjoy.

The Rise of Chronic Pain:

We live in a society where chronic pain, inflammation, injuries and daily soreness are at an all time high and it’s not because of high intensity workouts, it’s because of STRESS!

We live a world that feeds upon being busy, being over worked, under slept, and where every workout has to feel like going to war to be successful. Maybe, that’s a bit of an embellishment, but the majority of people I see in my practice are all searching for balance, but all spend 8 or more hours seated (not moving), that’s 489 minutes of your 1440 minutes in a 24-hour day. Then heading to the gym for an hour or more; which usually consists of high intensity training, loading the body and when they ask me… “I don’t know why I have pain, I don’t feel stressed.”

They are usually missing one major element in their lives – RECOVERY. This can include too much mileage too soon, or too much load without sufficient mobility, stability or movement screening first, but recovery is usually not on their radar.

Recent theories have suggested that neuro-inflammation and substantially increase when facing prolonged, uncertain and uncontrollable stress. Our internal systems are designed to modify the level of metabolic activity, adrenal activation and cortisol release to adapt to environmental demands that may eventually lead to maladaptive responses inducing a series of stress-related pathophysiological strains.

The hippocampus is highly sensitive to the effects of prolonged exposure to stress hormones and such a state has been referred to as allostatic load and may contribute to the triggering, the amplification and/or the persistence of the pain and soreness state. (Borsook et al., 2012).

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Your Nervous System In a Nutshell:

Your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) controls your body’s unconscious processes; such as blood sugar, adrenaline dump vs drip, digestion, heart rate and breathing and much more.

The ANS has two main branches: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) (flight or flight) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) (rest and digest). Both of which are critical to our survival.

Flight or Flight:

As humans have evolved, we no longer require the need to hunt for our food or protect ourselves from the same sort of predators. Yet the same alarm system our ancestors used to ensure survival is the same alarm system that we see being over used with busy lifestyles, lack of sleep, work hard-play hard mentality and your health is suffering for it.

Rest and Digest:

Why is the parasympathetic system important to your health and training model? Simple, our physiology depends on it with the promotion of digestion, cellular repair and the ability to sleep restfully to recharge our mechanical batteries.

Our internal structure works around the clock to ensure balance, and offers us subtle suggestions when things start to fall off the tracks. This can be in the form of mild sickness, not feeling rested, feeling fatigued or foggy, and even prolonged pain or discomfort that is out of the ordinary.

If you do not account for recovery and rest, it’s like driving a car with a flat tire and a half tank of gas and expecting it to operate like a Maserati.

It is important for your body to go into deep recovery mode if it needs it. This can have negative impacts on training improvements and longer-term health if we do not allow the parasympathetic system to do its job.

Understanding the “tone” of the autonomic nervous system can be extremely useful in assessing whether you are over training (catabolic or breaking down), under training (plateau) or developing and adapting (anabolic or building up) state; as well as determining the nature and effectiveness of your therapeutic sessions and training sessions.

Monitoring Your Nervous System’s Activity:

With the rise of wearable technology and fitness/health trackers it’s easier than ever to monitor your health; however it can be challenging to know where to start or how to interpret the data once collected.

To ensure you don’t play the guessing game, it’s always best to consult with a professional who can help you achieve a baseline or do as much research as you can to ensure your success.

The keys to monitoring your nervous system your health and the state of your recovery boil down to these 3 key ingredients:

  1. Resting Heart Rate
  2. Sleep Patterns and Quality
  3. Heart Rate Variability

In the next 3 articles, we will look at each of these in a little more detail, starting with heart rate variability next week. If you can’t wait till then for more information on monitoring your nervous system activity and recovery contact Moveolution or keep an eye on the Moveolution facebook, instagram and twitter pages.

Sources:

Apkarian, A., Baliki, M., & Geha, P. (2009). Towards a theory of chronic pain Prog Neurobiol, 87 (2), 81-97 DOI:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2008.09.018

Borsook D, Maleki N, Becerra L, McEwen B – Understanding migraine through the lens of maladaptive stress responses: a model disease of allostatic load. Neuron 2012;73:219-34

Heart Rate Variability, Elite HRV

Improve Stress Resilience With Breathing

Improve Stress Resilience With Breathing

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.25.58 AMBreathing is the most simple, yet complex thing we do all day long. It is also one of the most important factors for progressing movement and ensuring optimal recovery. Controlled by our autonomic nervous system; breathing can be influenced by the presence of stress.

Compensations in posture can be triggered in response to emotional stress, injury, poor movement patterning and illness; which can cause breathing to be altered. We can also reverse that; breathing pattern dysfunctions can also cause changes in posture, and movement.

Stress:

Stress changes the very structure and function of your brain. Your nervous system cannot distinguish whether stress is mental or physical, it just feels STRESSED. Therefore, we are asked to consider that perhaps it is not the strongest which survive, but the most adaptable. Darwin was only half correct.

Stress can be positive (eustress) or negative (distress), how we react and respond ultimately becomes the primer for living an optimal lifestyle.

Distress directly relates to high levels of stress that we cannot recover from. This can include overtraining and the physical stress of intolerable volumes or loads of physical stress, as well as trauma and prolonged mental and emotional stress.

Eustress directly relates to positive stress such as; tolerable levels of physical and psychological stress like sport and exercise, meditation and things we enjoy.

Building stress resilience starts with acknowledging where stress is most paramount, then removing any negatives that stand in your way to achieving optimal health.

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A great approach to this is the biopsychosocial model, which offers a general approach to mapping out the biological (which entails biochemical, physiological and genetics), psychological (which entails thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), and social (which entails, work environment, relationships, and cultural) factors, all play a significant role in human functioning in the context of disease or illness, so that you can strive for optimal health. Once you have established some of the most stressful triggers you can start to design coping strategies towards managing stress. Breathing is a very effective strategy and a great place to start.

Breathing:

Two great breathing drills that can be easily implemented into your training is see- saw breath; which aims to teach the ability to breathe more deeply and divide the chest from the abdomen and  the elbow lock breathing pattern; which can be used for to provide more emphasis on the lateral openings of the ribs. The elbow lock variation encourages thoracic opening to the sides of the ribcage, and extension of the thoracic spine. Both will also improve diaphragmatic release.

Breathing encourages the parasympathetic response to kick in; which is your central nervous systems main deep recovery system towards improve allostasis and relaxation to the body and mind.

Here is a link to our Moveolution YouTube Channel and Video on See-Saw Breathing and Elbow Lock Breathing.

Enjoy!

Sources:

  • Elite HRV, adding heart rate variability to improve stress resilience and optimize health.
  • Moveolution, (Recovery)Rx lab
  • Onnit – Durability Certification
Fascia in Fitness: The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch To Improve Your Yoga Practice

Fascia in Fitness: The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch To Improve Your Yoga Practice

Most of you will all be wondering why I have chosen to feature a complex strength exercise on a Yoga Blog site, but it is because, as a yoga practitioner and avid student in the art of movement, I have come to appreciate the common similarities between strength and grace. It all boils down to intention and state of mind. Over the past several years, I have focused my attention and intention on implementing different tools into my Yoga/Movement morning practice and I have found that a few specific exercises stand out. Some include patterns with a light club bell and others with a light kettle bell.

Understanding the importance load and strength have towards optimal vitality can help you adapt, become more versatile and more agile in many traditional yoga postures. The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch can be a great tool for developing more strength for inversions, hand stands and isomeric, static postures in the overhead and mid range positions.

Today, I would like to feature a few of those movements; one in particular – the 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch.

The KB swing to snatch is a fundamental exercise in building strength endurance, but did you know that it is also a great exercise tool for strengthening your fascia system? The KB snatch requires a certain level of precision as there must be the availability of both tension and relaxation for the the acceleration and deceleration phases to move optimally. Below is a step by step approach to ensuring the health and safety of implementing this beautiful exercise into your strength/endurance routine. Or if you are like me, just adding a few reps per day into my daily movement practice.

The Exercise: The 1 Arm KB SnatchScreen Shot 2015-08-15 at 9.45.52 AM

1. Screen: Establishing a baseline for this exercise is critical to ensure shoulder health and minimizing risk. Ensure that the client has adequate shoulder mobility first, as well as thoracic mobility.

  1. Screen 1: Shoulder mobility screen – The FMS Shoulder Mobility Screen or Apley Scratch Test is a great test to ensure a client has optimal movement at the shoulder. Checkout the Functional Movement Systems for their shoulder mobility screens.
  2. Screen 2: Lumbar Lock Thoracic Spine Screen – This test can ensure the client has adequate mobility and symmetry in their t-spine. Because of the single arm rotational stress this applies to the spine and shoulders, you want to ensure the client has the avaliable range first. Checkout this video: https://youtu.be/7OHMFPVZYOI

2. Mobilize: Choose appropriate mobility drill based on the screening. The T Spine Rotations Bow and Arrow is a great option. Checkout this video for variations on this drill.

3. Stabilize: Choose a stability drill that can offer versatility and reflexive control. A corrective approach to the TGU is a great option. Breaking down the posts can help build stability of the shoulder and postural muscles by offering a variety of loaded positions. Check out our blog piece here for a full breakdown.

4. Acceleration:

The value of the aacceleration phase offers immense benefits in driving power from the ground up. The hip drive engages the posterior chain, but also promotes extension, under tension of the deep front line and spiral line; while simotaneously counter balancing rotation of the load. Much like winding up a spring and stacking the joints, the deceleration phase then unwinds the spring by elogating the tissue while still under tension.

5. Deceleration:Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 9.46.04 AM

The value of the deceleration phase offers immense benefits in eccentric strength endurance; specifically benefiting the deep back line and spiral line; while simultaneously creating a level of relaxation under tension as you move from the stacking of the joints into unwinding the natural spiral/rotation we can see in the follow through. This also gives the tissue time to transition back into the winding up, acceleration phase for the next rep.

6. What are the benefits for training the fascia system: Train the tissue, and by tissue we mean fascia. The benefits are endless and can enhance your traditional yoga practice.

  • Specific training can enhance the fascial elasticity essential to systemic resilience. Think whole systems integration.
  • The fascia system responds better to variation than to repetitive programs.
  • Proximal Inhibition can offer additional elongation benefits to activate the stretch reflex. Letting the more distal parts of the body follow in sequence, much like an elastic pendulum.
  • Complex movements require reflexive control and adaptation.
  • The fascial system is far more innervated than muscle tissue, this offers immense benefits to improved body awareness and opportunity for bio feedback.

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Part 2: Post Event Recovery Using Fascial Stretch Therapy

Part 2: Post Event Recovery Using Fascial Stretch Therapy

It’s 730am and it’s already hot and humid In Vancouver BC and today, is the big day! It’s Sunday June 28th and my day starts on the start line of the Scotiabank Half Marathon.

Starting out slow and steady the first half of the racecourse is a gradual uphill. Considering the heat I decided to maintain just below my race pace to ensure I didn’t start out too quickly and waste energy or dehydrate myself early into the race. As I embarked on the end of the climb, we started the gradual descent that would last for the next 4km. As I approached the 10km mark I realized that my body felt different – it felt light and “something” I couldn’t put my finger on. I scanned by body the usual suspects… and pondered for a moment … I felt “un-injured.” That is the best way I can describe it.

For the last several months, my peak training runs has been plagued with ankle compression, tight shins, and an impinged left meniscus with radiating ITB discomfort. Moving on down the rabbit hole, the left lower back causes me daily pain from adhesions scar tissue, and let’s not forget about an anterior tilt in my pelvis on the right side. On a pain scale it’s low day to day, but in training its moderate enough to place my attempts at a personal best at a stand still for nearly a year.

For the first time since last November, my body felt light and I didn’t feel the normal compression of my ankles or the tension, the soreness in my knee or the pain of the lower back. As I closed in on the 15km mark, I realized my tissues felt great. Crossing the finish line at 2:13:19 I hadn’t achieved a personal best, but with a temperature of 31 degrees and limited muscular discomfort it was a big win!

The only change I had made to my training had been the integration of FST into my recovery days post long run for the past several months.

So why don’t more athletes’ consider fascia in performance and recovery programs?

This is a common question I am asked, and the bold answer is – because not many people know that much about it. Fascia is complex and our understanding of it is still in its infancy – and, quite frankly, it can be hard to study. It’s so expansive and intertwined it resists the medical standard of being cut up, divided up and named for textbook illustrations. Furthermore, its function and form is even more complex, yet it’s subtler than that of the other systems in our body.

For the majority of medical lineage it’s been assumed that bones were our frame, muscles the motor, and fascia just packaging. Well this is wrong. Our bones are meant to float, and it’s our fascia that holds us together and provides the super highway for neurotransmission, hydration and communication.

Recover, Restore, Realign:

As previously mentioned FST places a high priority on the assessment of each client and even though it feels predominately tissue based during the hands on treatment; each FST session includes joint and tissue mobilization, as well as integration of the nervous system and dynamic corrective movement.

Half and full marathon training places a great deal of repetitive stress on our tissues and joints beyond their capacity to recover naturally and thus placing a high degree on both wear and tear on the muscles and fascia system that inevitably cause it distress. Therefore, restoring this finite framework is crucial.

I had an opportunity to briefly connect with Chris Fredrick, co founder of the Stretch To Win Institute, who offered me a deeper insight into the power FST can have; on not only an athlete’s performance, but why the fascia system is by far one of, if not THE most important system to consider in both training and recovery.

“Some of the criteria essential for fascial fitness and training aim at:

  • Elastic recoil
  • Undulating/rhythmic movement
  • Proprioceptive refinement
  • Hydration
  • Dynamic stretching

Chris goes on to say that “All of this is accomplished with FST, so FST satisfies criteria for training fascia according to top researchers.” He also went on to note that in my particular case with an impinged meniscus; “FST often helps relieve impingement after using the closed chain movements to assess. This is because it addresses spiral & lateral lines.”

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Post Event Re Cap:

The day after the half marathon, Matt Keen, assessed my overall biomechanics post event. As you can see from the above figure of the before session and after session there is an immense change in my posture. I think these photos can speak for themselves. You can see a taller standing posture, my hips look more aligned, and the shoulder hike is significantly reduced. Prior to this session I had also spent an hour rolling and stretching.

In conclusion,  receptive motions, compression, sticky adhesions, contractures and stiffness form between fascial surfaces that aren’t regularly moved, or moved often that cause wear and tear and over time these adhesions get strong enough to inhibit range of motion, and cause possible injury.

If you are plagued by nagging injuries that you can’t seem to self manage, perhaps invest in sourcing out a professional who specializes in fascia stretch therapy and corrective movement. It could be the missing piece of the puzzle to unleashing your greatest movement potential.

Sources:

Chris Fredrick, co founder of Stretch To Win Institute and Fascial Stretch Therapy

Matt Keen, owner and FST therapist at Keensense Personal Training 

Part 1: A Review of Fascial Stretch Therapy for Athletic Recovery In Runners

Part 1: A Review of Fascial Stretch Therapy for Athletic Recovery In Runners


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Fascial Stretch Therapy, otherwise known as FST, is a partner assisted stretching technique developed by Ann and Chris Frederick at the Stretch to Win Institute of Fascial Stretch Therapy. Founded in 1999, FST was designed for athletes, but is also effective and beneficial for people of all ages and activity levels.

What is fascia?

Fascia is the connective tissue that permeates and envelops all structures of the body, essentially connecting them all together in one web like matrix.  Fascia extends from head to toe, front to back, inside to outside without interruption and is the most influential factor affecting your mobility, tissue extensibility and optimal joint range of motion.

In a normal, healthy state the fascial system maintains the body in a delicate balance of tension and elasticity.  With the proper amount of tension, fascia helps support the efficient alignment of your bones while being elastic enough to permit full, unrestricted movement. Without the wonderful world of fascia, we would literally just be a pile of bones on the floor.

Unhealthy fascia?

Faulty movement patterns, poor postural habits, dehydration, stress form aging, over training; can all have a disastrous affect on this system, causing it to shorten, thicken and tighten (like “shrink-wrap”). Over time, the accumulation of these restrictions begins exerting abnormal pressure on joints, nerves, blood vessels and even organs and can create pain in seemingly unrelated areas of your body. It can create adhesions, contractures, stiff tissue.

Furthermore, compensation in any area of the body can increase the sympathetic tone and inflammatory response. This can lead to poor performance, poor sleep, pain and unhealthy movement.

What does this mean for you, as an athlete?

At some point in an athlete’s career he/she will experience some form of discomfort or injury. The human structure is complex and the best approach we can take is one rooted in prevention and optimal recovery. Managing stress, recovery and hydration are key elements in the success of any athlete and their performance; which is why FST can be a benefit to any athlete’s program.

Stress Management – Physical activity is associated with an improved quality of life; therefore moving well and pain free directly results to improved performance. Stress can be positive or negative, and our central nervous system cannot differentiate between mental or physical stress. FST can help reduce an athlete’s stress response and improve parasympathetic activity to encourage mental clarity and mental fortitude leading up to the main event. 

Recovery – Running injuries can be related to poor running technique, as well as poor elastic bounce or rebound.; which can result in micro trauma from overuse. Studies show that the majority of running injuries is caused by miro-trauma to collagenous tissues (Elliott, 1990) (Stanish, 1984).

Hydration – Approximately two thirds of the volume of fascial tissues is made up of water. During application of mechanical load, whether by stretching or local compression, water is pushed out of the more stressed zones, similar to squeezing a sponge (Schleip et al., 2012).

 FST

What does an FST session look like?

Fascial Stretch Therapy™ (FST) is assisted stretching performed on a specially designed treatment table; which comes equipped with comfortable padded straps that aim to stabilize the parts of the body not being worked on.  It can be performed exclusively or in combination with a massage treatment or after a corrective exercise session.

As an athlete, I cycle structural integration (KMI) at least once every couple of months and add FST as part of my taper program 1-2 weeks prior to my main event.

On Sunday, I will be running in the Scotiabank Half Marathon, as part of the Pain BC Charity Challenge team, with a hope of a personal best.

Matthew Keen, owner of Keensense Personal Training and Fascial Stretch Therapy has been my go to FST guru for the past several months and I have noticed a great deal of difference in my tissue. Leading up to this event, I have had a chronic anteriorly rotated right hip; which causes the hamstring point of insertion to be painful and tender, with resonating tension down the entire back line, into the plantar fascia.

Our sessions resemble a fluidly choreographed dance between the therapist and client working with your breath to ease into a gradual series of gentle, but deep stretching patterns. The experience is relaxing and pain-free and for me, was more like a movement meditation. Matt’s ability to map out the body and see the spiral patterns that are unseen by my eyes also offers me a deeper perspective on how I am holding my tension.

What are the benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy?

  • Improved Flexibility and Mobility.
  • Improved Overall Range of Motion.
  • Restoration of normal joint space, posture and tissue alignment
  • Improved Circulation and Oxidation to the tissues and systems.
  • Improved Energy through increased parasympathetic tone.
  • Increased Muscle Activation and Relaxation.
  • Improved Physical and Emotional Well-Being.
  • Improved Muscle, Joint and Nerve Function.
  • Decrease Pain and reduced stiffness in hypertonic tissues.
  • Decrease Compression and Pinching in Joints and Nerves.

Next week I will offer a post event review of my next session with Matt Keen, and how FST can influence recovery post your main event.

Sources:

Keensense Personal Training and Fascial Stretch Therapy

Stretch To Win

“Fascia In Sport and Movement” by Robert Schleip et al.

Cat Flow: A Corrective Intervention for Spine Health

Cat Flow: A Corrective Intervention for Spine Health

Cat flow posture is a classic yoga pose, and yet it still remains a staple for preventing back pain and spinal mechanics. Cat flow moves the spine from a rounded position (flexion) to the arch (extension)., ensuring that a neutral spine is maintained. A simple motion that is enormously beneficial for the health of the spine, pelvis and posterior chain.

The cat flow sequence can also be used as a corrective intervention; and is designed to stimulate the breath, mobility in the connective tissue and stability of the shoulders, trunk and lumbo pelvic hip complex.

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Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduce tension and stress to the low back
  • Activate the body’s natural relaxation response
  • Massage the organs in the belly
  • Improve expansion of the ribcage through breath
  • Promote activation of the core

Band Resisted Quadruped Cat Flow:

Start in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. The band should be placed around the mid back so that you can encourage the expansion of the ribcage.

Quadruped Cat Flow Hover:

Start in a “tabletop” position, using the same cues for the band resisted cat flow. Incorporating the “hover” into this exercise focuses on connecting the shoulders, to the ribcage/trunk and the trunk to the hips; while at the same time building resistance at the core.

Mind your breath and move at your pace to wind down your body and gently stimulate the spine and muscles of your back. Both of these exercises are great for building stability and pelvic position, as well as mobility of the spine.

Video link here:

Flow Sequence To Happier Hips

Flow Sequence To Happier Hips

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Yoga is known for it’s benefits in flexibility, reducing stress and relaxation, and if you are lucky enough to not have stiffness from your everyday activities, you are one of the lock ones. However if you’re not so fortunate and your tight hips are making themselves known every time you so much as walk to the grocery store, get up from your desk or getting in and out of the car — expressing themselves in the form of low back pain and muscle stiffness then taking some time to prevent further compensation from happening will make your hips a lot happier.

Tight Hips Can = Low Back Pain

Low back pain is the leading complaint in the workplace. With the invention of the chair, our bodies have to conform to an unnatural state of “sitting.” For people who sit a long time at work, the hip flexors and rotators become tight, and the gluteal muscles become weak and under active and thus this places great deal of strain on the lumbar spine. Moving on down the rabbit hole, this stress can cause the spine to change shape, increasing forward head carriage, destabilization of the postural muscles and a reduction in thoracic spine mobility.

The Joint By Joint Approach

The first thing you should notice is the joints alternate between mobility and stability. The ankle needs increased mobility, and the knee needs increased stability. As we move up the body, it becomes apparent the hip needs mobility. And so the process goes up the chain –a basic, alternating series of joints.

  • Lose ankle mobility, get knee pain
  • Lose hip mobility, get low back pain
  • Lose thoracic mobility, get neck and shoulder pain, or low back pain

Stiffness, tension and (dis)ease in the body can be debilitating. Anytime we don’t acknowledge our weakest links or confront them; we demonstrate the same behavior that caused the compensation in the first place. Carving out time every day to reduce these compensatory patterns from occurring is the first step to a pain free lifestyle and longevity in your sport and day to day activities. 

Hip Opener Series One

This sequence is designed to unwind tight hips, improve your range of motion in the spine and spiral fascia lines, improve circulation, and alleviate back pain.

Featured Corrective Yoga Pose: Locust pose and Lizard pose

Featured Yoga poses included in this series is the lizard, modified to integrate the spiral line fascia systems; as well as Locust pose at the end to encourage strengthening and lengthening of the back in extension.

Benefits:

* Strengthens the upper and lower back, arms and legs
* Improves mobility in the elbow joint and tissues of the forearm
* Helps to stretch the chest, shoulders and abdominals
* Prepares the body for deeper back bending
* Improves posture and counter balance using the floor as a proprioceptive tool.

Repeat this sequence once to open up the body, or repeat a few times for a corrective yoga session.

 Follow this 5min video: Video Link Here. 

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