Archive for the ‘Benefits of Yoga’ Category

It seems like our culture is getting worse and worse when it comes to mobility and movement quality. We usually have locked up t-spines, ankles and hips and as a result cannot move the way that we need to stay safe and get the results that we want from our training. One of those issues that we find a lot in our clients and athletes is an obvious lack of the ability to touch ones toes.

This movement pattern is vital for your safety and performance in lifts and movements that require that your hips move in a hinge pattern and at times in hip extension. (Hint, just about everything that utilizes lower body requires these movements.)

But before we go any further, let’s look at these moves so that you can have better understanding of them.

Hip hinging is when you are required to moves your hips back. This is seen in the exercise world in the form of deadlifts, kettlebell swings, broad jumps and other like movements.

Hip extension is the finish of these moves and is also seen in proper running and walking mechanics.
SMLXL
(Dave knows how to extend his hips!)
Now that you understand in a very simple way what these moves are, let’s discuss how a lack of toe touch can mess up these patterns and lead to less than stellar performance.  You see a lack of toe touch is often a problem of not being able to shift your weight back and as a result your brain fires you hamstrings to keep you from breaking your nose. There are also times that your brain senses that a muscle is inhibited in the movement chain and as a result tightens up muscles to keep us from hurting our precious joints.

So then if stretching isn’t the answer, then what is?

The answer isn’t as simple as a 1, 2, 3 solution and can vary from person to person, but we can give you a few drills to help you:

1. Breathing;
Proper breathing patterns that utilize the diaphragm as the main respiratory muscle has a huge in stabilizing ones midsection and can enable you to move better by causing your brain to release any unnecessary tension in the body and to better stabilize your mid-section.

2. Toe touch pattern drill:

As a stated before an inability to toe your toes is usually a lack of being able to shift your weight back. This drill can helps you re-learn how to do this important movement and give you the ability back to deadlift with proper positioning.

To do this drill find a two inch elevation, such as a book, board or even dumbbells. Put your toes on the lift. Then stick something between your legs right above your knees, reach up to the ceiling, crush the object between your legs; and touch your toes 10 times. It is ok to bend your knees if you have to, in order to get to your toes.

After you have done that direction, stick your heels on the lift and follow the same sequence. You will either be able to touch your toes or you will be closer. Keep on practicing this drill until you can touch your toes, when you aren’t warmed up.

SMLXL

3. Glute strengthening:

Lastly is if your glutes are weak or inhibited, you will probably not be able to get in the proper position to lift and train safely with good form. Now when people sit often as well as those who are just begin to workout usually have overactive or tight low back muscles and hamstrings and under active glutes as well as being stuck in a flexed or forward shoulder position.


To combat this and to help better position yourself you will want to, release (stretch, foam roll.) The tight areas and strengthen the weak ones. For the sake of this post we will only discuss the glutes. (We will be doing a posture post soon.) Glute development isn’t too difficult, you will just want to do it in a way that doesn’t keep the imbalance though.

1. Lower rolling for glute strengthing:

2. Supermans, birddogs and reverse hip lifts:

3. Bridges, Single leg and 2 legged

4. Glute ham raises:

 https://youtu.be/w0X0Vw6Vu1Y

5: Hip thrusters :

These aren’t the only exercises that train the glutes they are just simple and effective ways to do so.

Having a comfortable toe touch that is controlled is very important for your health and fitness. So it is worth finding out what is limiting you from being able to do so and to take the time to correct this issue if it is present in your life.

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Mastery is a beautiful thing to watch and when it comes to movement nothing is more amazing to watch when someone can shift from movement to movement without any interruptions and major mistakes in  the moves that are being transitioned through.

 

 

 

This fun approach to train with kettlebells, sandbags or body weight can hit various movement patterns and help it’s user build some conditioning as they do. Not to mention that when it is done well, it can be awesome to watch.

 

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This week’s workout is one such session is just that and hopefully, I make it look as good as some of the flows that I have seen over the years. Now just before we begin to talk about the successive moves, please make sure that you have spent enough time on each of the moves by themselves to have the technique down.

 

 

 

This type of workout isn’t difficult to do once you have the form of each exercise down. You will however, want to go light enough to make sure that you can finish the flow without setting the bell down and disrupting the beautiful movement that you will bring to the world as a result of this workout.

 

 

 

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It is done by doing a Turkish get up on one side, then a windmill on top, followed by 5 split snatches and then finishing up on that side with a clean to squat for 5 times of each move.

 

 

Keep this going for 10 to 20 minutes and get as many quality and beautiful rounds per side.

Watch the video below to see it done: 

 

Once again we have your guidelines for success

  • Do all of your sets and reps with quality form. Crap only produces crap!
  • Breathe by matching your breathing with each pattern
  • Rest as much as you need to and no more.
  • Tough it out while working out ( keep in mind the results)
  • Enjoy the fat blasting effect  and raised metabolism.

Click here to get my Ultimate Kettlebell swing tutorial and workout series. This series will not teach you the swing,  but show you  how to train with it to get to your goals!

My neck hurts as I…..; my low back hurts as I squat. My shoulders hurt as I press overhead. These are common complaints that I hear from my online clients, in person and of course my fellow fitness fans. Although there can be many reasons as to why a person has pain in any given movement pattern. There may be overuse in a muscle in the chain due to imbalances and compensations or even just the old-fashioned reason of poor form as a person trains that movement. There also may be a serious medical condition such as cancer or the like. So as always if you have pain present especially if it is chronic, see your doctor.

However, this post is not about that type of pain especially since I am not a trained medical professional. This post will show you how to reduce discomfort in a movement by learning how to get your thoracic spine moving in the ways that it should; both in extension and rotation. The result of this new mobility will help you move better, feel better and could quite possibly make you stronger and more conditioned in the long run!

The t-spine or the thoracic spine is composed of 12 vertebrae and has an absolute important function in just about every exercise. The T-spine must either extend or rotate in our human movements, such as: gait (running/ walking) squatting, lunging as well as other movement patterns and exercise.

You probably now can see that if this area has too much dysfunction that it can affect the surrounding areas and create potentially dangerous compensation in other movement patterns and exercises. In other words lack of mobility and stability in this area can lead to injury in places such as: the low back, neck or potentially other areas as well by creating undue strain in another area as a result of the aforementioned dysfunction. 

So then you see that if it is not functioning well we will want to make it better by specific drills to do so. Not just from a health perspective but problems in this area can also lead to poor performance in your training or in your chosen sport. So sometimes mobility in conjunction with stability work followed by re-patterning; can lead to better strength gains in people who are training and having some difficulty getting better at their pursuit.

The way that the thoracic spine moves:

Your mid-back is designed to move in two ways and if you are extremely deficient in them your chances of getting injured are much higher.

The first movement is rotation.

Your middle spine should be able to rotate almost equally from side to side. This movement is seen in walking, running and in many lifting moves. Failure to rotate well here can lead to all kinds of problems and pain in any area that the movement pattern involves. For example if you cannot rotate form you thorax, you will rotate too much form somewhere else as I wrote about earlier.

Good                                                                                               You’ll need some work

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The second move is extension.

This movement mostly happens at the lower part of this area. once again failure to have this movement in the t-spine will usually lead to ugly overhead form, possible injury and overuse of the low back in order to try to extend and to get in the right position for overhead work.

Good                                                                                       You’ll need some work

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Fixing these issues:

First thing first there should be some kind of assessment to find out if your t-spine is the problem. Then from there, a break down should take place to find the one of more things that can be corrected to improve these movement patterns.

Step One: Check breathing:

Lack of proper breathing patterns can create tightness in your neck, upper back, chest as well as other areas in our bodies. To see if you are breathing well stick one of your hands on your chest and one on your belly. Take a breath in through your nose and see what moves first and what area you are breathing into.

Then place your thumbs on your back and other fingers in the front of you. Once again take a breath in and see what is moving as a result of your breathing.

Did your chest rise up first? Did you feel it in your neck? If so you have dysfunctional breathing and will want to make it better.

Not having these qualities in our training can lead to injury and most likely will keep you from getting the results that you want from your fitness training. So don’t be one of those people who don’t spend time on training joint mobility.

Step Two:  Check your rotation:

This post is geared towards people who are doing a self assessment and don’t necessarily have someone to look at their t-spine function. In light of that, the following assessment you can do yourself, if you are simply aware of your position and breathing as you do it.

Step Three: Cervical rotation/ extension

At times due to the closeness of a person’s neck to their t-spine, one can compensate for another. This can lead to lots of tightness in a person’s neck and possible injury as the person works out.

Good                                                                                          You’ll need some work

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Step Four: Check your extension

As I stated earlier, your mid-back shouldn’t be able to just rotate but also extend as well. Failure to do so often leads to the dreaded rib-cage flair,  low back pain, shoulder instability and not being able to live up to your full potential as a lifter! (Oh-no!)

Finally: fix what is going on.

Drills to improve these movement issues:

Breathing:

Rotation:

Neck drills:

Extension:

Taking care of this area doesn’t guarantee that you will never be hurt, but not taking care of it is to leave things up to chance and most likely not end up living up to your potential in fitness. So make sure that you spend time on these drills especially the ones that you need the most improvement in. If you don’t you are simply a slacker! (J/K) But, really, you are!
🙂

This past Saturday the 24th of January was our first winter workshop and it went extremely well. The topics that we covered were: Yoga theory and practice by Rachel T and David S. They covered important topics such as movement prep., breathing and mobility. This was immediately followed by an opportunity to practice them in a brief warm-up and then the lifting began.

( I think Dave may be sleeping while standing)

We then split up into groups to learn about two of the tools that we use to train people and athletes to move better, get stronger and leaner. They were Kettlebells and Barbells. The lifts that we covered were the swing, the Turkish Get-up, Goblet squat and overhead press. On the Barbell side we did, deadlifts, squats and bench or “the core lifts.”

 The goal of this workshop was not only to teach our attendees to lift with good form, but also how to teach them to others how to do them as well.  We took the time to instruct everyone on the techniques of every lift and then utilized correctives to help everyone truly get and feel each move.

Everyone that attended got the tools that they needed to be a better trainer, lifter and even the few doctors that came have a better understanding of safe lifting mechanics to better help their patients to know what to look for in a fitness program. Lastly the instructors learned a lot while teaching. One thing that this day taught me was that there are still so many people who need to hear this message and experience how to train without pain and how to get results constantly over their lives.

I am very happy to have helped so many people get the tools they need to get results while staying pain-free. I am truly grateful to those who attended and I look forward to doing it again with you all and some new people!

 Lastly here is one if the attendees thoughts on this day:

The Escape Winter Workshop was packed with valuable coaching tips and motivational information. The instructors did a great job demonstrating various exercises and progressions with a strong emphasis on utilizing correct form and addressing movement dysfunctions. I look forward to the next one!

Jacque S.

If you want to learn these movements and more without the time restrictions of an event; I offer online coaching to not only teach you how to lift and to get stronger and fitter. I will also tailor everything to you, including your correctives and a program that will fit your goal! To learn more click here; please hurry if you are interested, I only have two spots left!

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Training is akin to building in many ways. They both require the right tools for the job, planning ahead, making adjustments to the environment around them and so-on. What happens when the right tool isn’t used? If there is no plan? and so-on. The product that we are trying to create will not end up the way that is should and the recipient of that service will most likely end up discouraged and disillusioned as a result.

 

 

As a master builder knows the quality of tools and the right tools for the job are necessary in order to do the job well. As a fitness instructor tools are important as well and not all tools are created equal to get you the most out of your training. One of the most useful fitness tools in the world of training is the, (wait for it!) Kettlebell! Kettlebell training with the proper instruction is a very useful for just about any fitness pursuit, from health, fat loss, general fitness, strength and sports training. This post will give you a few reasons why and how that is the case.

Kettlebells are useful for mobility:
With such moves as the Kettlebell halo to the Turkish Get-up this tool can be used to help a person to get into the proper position to exercise and for life.


Halo:

This drill is designed to “open up” your thoracic spine which is super useful in this world that often sits too much.

 

The Turkish Get Up:
Not only does this drill work so many different things such as cross lateralization, strength, shoulder stability and other important things. It is also a great hip mobility drill as well!

Click here  to learn how to do this move.


The Goblet Squat:

Once due to sitting to much and our lack of both practicing this move as an exercise and movement, we lose it. the Goblet squat is both a mobility exercise and a safe and simple way to learn how to squat better and to regain your youthful movement. This can be a mobility exercise by relaxing on the bottom, but keeping your chest up!

Click here to learn it


The Good morning stretch
:
The mobility drill is an amazing drill to help you with your hip mobility and to learn how to hinge better. It is also great movement prep. for swings!

 

The Windmill:
This move stretches out the hips and lower leg while working on t-spine rotation as the same time.

See more on this here.

Of course there many other moves that work on mobility with kettlebells. But for the sake of this post, I will end it here. So that we can move onto some of the other awesome uses for this tool!

Kettlebells are useful to build strength and explosive power:

Kettlebell training offers the ability to train with slow grinds for strength with such movement patterns as the overhead and vertical pressing variations; thus building strength in those movements. These movements have a great transference over to life and sports, especially if you push things a lot.

Click here to learn how to do the overhead press

 

There are also squat variations that build strength and power:

There are many ways built into training with this tool to build strength and power. From learning how to squat to dealing with asymmetries as well as finally building and continuing to build a high level of strength.

Click here to learn and to progress the kettlebell squat.

 

Kettlebells build explosive power:

This one maybe what kettlebells are most known for. The ability to use such move as the swing, push-press, clean and jerk and so-on to build power. This fact makes this piece of equipment extremely useful for sports application and to help combat the decline in power of the elderly.  As well as many other useful applications.

Click here to get my  kettlebell swing series as a gift to you.

A demonstration of the KB Jerk (hard style):

 

 

The preceding reasons and many others are some reasons why you should consider kettlebell training as part or the whole of your fitness programming. If you do and learn form a certified instructor, you will find them to help you build strength and power as well as conditioning and to get to your goals!

If you want great instruction on the basic moves such as the overhead press, goblet squat get-up and swing. We at Escape Medford are offering a workshop to help you learn these moves as well as other loaded movements and to help you teach and correct them if you are a fitness trainer. Click here to find out more and to sign up. But hurry space is limited and time is running out to register!

Yoga has been proven to have may benefits. Although I myself do not practice it, (but I do use some moves for mobility.) I definitely see its usefulness in a good training program in order to stay balanced and mobile. My Friend Rachel wrote today’s post on just 5 of the benefits of a consistent yoga practice. Read on to find out what they are and how you can apply them. (Plus she has a cute dog!)

Moses,

The Ranter

 

Are you new to yoga? Not sure where to start? Or maybe you tried it and didn’t love it? Not sure whether you should try it again? Keep reading you may decide to give it a chance! These just a few of the many physical and psychological benefits of a weekly yoga practice.

1.Improves flexibility: While it may be slightly uncomfortable to the body and the ego at first, over time yoga can lengthen muscles and improve mobility. Added bonus- this gradual process can actually help alleviate joint pain associated with muscle tightness!

2.Strengthens from the inside out: Using your own body weight and sustained postures, yoga can strengthen both bones and muscles. Yogic breathing (pranayama) also encourages core muscle engagement as you practice which in turn helps develop stability and provide increased control in all your workouts.

 

3.Maintains spine health: In contrast to the daily grind of sitting and slumping, yoga trains the spine into correct posture by helping strengthen muscles around the spine and shoulders. A complete yoga class will move your spine in all six directions on the three planes of motion: laterally right and left, spiraling right and left, extension and flexion. This helps improve mobility while nurturing the discs that cushion your vertebrae.

4. Increases lung function and capacity: Pranayama (yogic breathing) throughout asana (pose) might be the most beneficial aspect of consistent practice. According to a study referenced in Timothy McCall’s article on yogajournal.com, a group of people with lung issues due to congestive heart failure were able to breaths per minute decreased from 13.4 to 7.6 after a month of daily breathing practice. An increase in exercise capacity and oxygen saturation in the lungs were also reported.

 

5.Reduces stress and anxiety: Yoga helps calm the chatter in the mind. Whether flowing through a vigorous vinyasa series or holding a balance pose, using yogic breathing to calm the nervous system during your practice can teach the body to react differently to stressful situations and panic moments off the mat. Lower stress can also mean lowering the chance and severity of stress related conditions and illnesses.

Got your attention? That’s not even the half of it! In addition, yoga has been found to improve sleep patterns, release tension, maintain your nervous system, increase circulation and lymph system function, lower blood sugar, relieve mild depression, regulate glands and hormones, boost immunity,… the list goes on!
If this makes you to want to reap the benefits of adding yoga to your weekly workouts, join us at Escape Medford for our Winter Workshop and learn how to practice both safely and effectively. If you are already enjoying these benefits, we would love to have you practice with us and learn more about why yoga is such an important part of a well-rounded exercise routine. All levels are welcome! Click here to sign up today!

 

Rachel Tarvin RYT 2IMG_023400,  grew up in Medford, NJ. She was a competitive gymnast for 8 years in middle school and high school. After many injuries and one surgery, Rachel found yoga helped ease the aches and pains of her over worked and hyper-mobile body. She continued her yoga practice when she went away to college.  She received a B.A. in English from the University of Miami in 2003.

A few years after graduating college, Rachel decided to take her decade-long yoga practice to the next level. She attended a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training and graduated in early 2014 from the Kripalu School of Yoga and Ayurveda in Massachusetts. After completing her training, she began teaching right away and now has close to 200 teaching hours under her belt.
Rachel has a passion for guiding students through their practice in a safe and nurturing way, encouraging proper body mechanics and the use of yogic breath. She believes that yoga truly can benefit any person that gives it a chance and that it is not merely for the “bendy.” She plans to return to Kripalu for a workshop about Teaching Yoga to Athletes in January of 2015 and intends to  complete her 500 hour teaching certification in the next few years.