Bodywork to Make Your Body Work

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Bodywork to Make Your Body Work

Almost everyone in San Francisco leads a very active lifestyle. From working the 9-5 to working out (hopefully), running errands, being outdoors to get fresh air and sun, and enjoying all the fun activities that the city constantly has to offer, San Franciscans are extremely social and busy people. We’re great at doing our work, being in school, and going out to do the things we love. Sometimes, though, we’re not so great at taking a step back to slow our lives down and take care of ourselves. We work hard and play hard, but we don’t always do enough for our “rest and digest” - our down time, our sleep, our nutrition: our recovery.

In previous posts, we’ve talked a lot about nutrition, sleep, and mindset, and these are all great and necessary elements to improve our general well-being and aid in recovery so that we can do what we do best: be active. So this time, I want to talk about another great way to recover, rest, and relax. I want to talk about massage.

As many of you know, massage is a great tool for relieving tension and tightness in the body, but people still have many misconceptions of what massage is.

Some people are afraid of massage because of a bad experience and say things like, “It was so painful! I think my body is just too sensitive to receive massage.”

Or, on the other end of the spectrum, some people say “I don’t feel like anything happened. They just rubbed lotion on me and that was it.” Many people don’t know that massage has the potential to reduce or even completely relieve pain. I think that it’s really unfortunate that not all people know how great it can be, so I want to break down a few different styles of massage and bodywork so that everyone can understand how this healing modality can play a vital role in your rest and recovery.


(Swedish) Relaxation Massage

The most prevalent form of massage for relaxation and enjoyment is Swedish Relaxation Massage. Swedish Massage is characterized by long, flowing, strokes that are firm, yet gentle. The massage therapist typically uses the palm and “heel” of his or her hands to glide across the skin over muscles and joints to lengthen and soften the tissues. Some type of lotion or oil is usually used and sessions can last from 30-90 minutes in a relaxing and soothing environment. This type of massage, or bodywork, is not as targeted as other modalities, but is effective in integrating multiple body parts in flowing moves to relax the patient and improve circulation and blood flow. Studies have even shown that Swedish Massage can help to reduce fatigue, depression, and anxiety - very relevant for the busy and often stressed-out San Franciscan.

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Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is characterized by its concentration on the deeper layers of muscles and fascia. For deep tissue massage, the therapist typically uses knuckles, fist, or elbow. Typically, deep tissue massage requires little to no oil or lotion compared to Swedish, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be relaxing as well. This is the style of massage that some people might say is really painful, but proper deep tissue massage should sink slowly into muscle and fascia so as to not cause the body to tense up and “fight back”. This modality is great for breaking up adhesions and to really get noticeable softening of dense or knotted tissue.

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Clinical Bodywork

The last form of massage or bodywork I want to tell you about is clinical bodywork. Clinical bodywork is, as the name suggests, more clinical in its style and is a bit different from other types of massage, especially relaxation. Clinical bodywork is typically much more targeted, like deep tissue, and the emphasis is not on relaxation, but on helping the patient come out of pain from some type of injury or disease. During a clinical session, there is more communication between the patient and therapist to problem solve, and the practitioner will use a variety of tools to address the pain. These tools can include different massage modalities such as deep tissue, pin and stretch, myofascial release, and even Swedish relaxation strokes if appropriate. But, the practitioner might not be limited to just massage techniques and may incorporate other elements such as lymphatic drainage, cupping, special assessments, stretching, rehabilitation exercises and neuro-techniques to name a few. 

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Conclusion

Here at Perform for Life, we’re all about our training, education, and community, but we also really love to show our care for our athletes by providing clinical bodywork. We see and care for so many of our athletes going through pain from injury, disease, stress, and overwork and we want to make sure that everyone takes care of their bodies. We might do a great job at being active and working out hard, but it’s important to know when to let our bodies rest, relax and recover, and massage is a great way to do so.

From Swedish relaxation to clinical bodywork, there’s a type of massage for everyone to help with relaxation and even pain. Keep in mind that I’ve only gotten to talk about a few modalities of bodywork and that there is so much more out there. So, if these don’t work, don’t stop searching. Stay active but listen to your body and take great care of it - it’s the only one you’ve got.



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How Athleticism Could Benefit You

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How Athleticism Could Benefit You

May Small Group Class Focus: Benefits of Athleticism

Whether you’re training to improve your overall health or working towards a more specific goal, athleticism will help take your game to the next level. All athletes, regardless of their ongoing goal, can benefit from moving more freely and effectively. Developing athleticism insinuates a focus on speed, agility, quickness, reaction time, coordination, and anaerobic conditioning helps you gain skills that will seep into all aspects of life. Think about it - the more agile, energetic, and sharp you are mentally and physically, the smoother your day-to-day tasks will be!

Speed, Quickness, and Reaction Time

Typically, speed refers to how fast you can move your body in a straight line and how efficiently you use your arms and legs to do so. Although speed and quickness may seem interchangeable, speed primarily relies on a combination of core and lower body strength whereas quickness refers to your body’s reflexes. By measuring your body’s instant and rapid response (quickness), reaction time will also find it’s way into the mix. The quicker you are to get your body into position, the more explosive you are, and therefore your reaction time will decrease. Explosiveness, speed, and quickness are all a part of the formula that helps you to improve your performance, leading to stronger results.

Agility, Coordination

When you use agility training, your balance, control, and flexibility will automatically improve also, allowing the body to maintain proper posture and alignment while moving freely. Teaching correct body placement will simultaneously create a pattern of muscle memory while allowing for more effortless moving.  This is especially true with the shoulders, lower back, and knees, because it’s important to make sure they are protected during more explosive movements. With agility comes coordination - or the ability for your entire body to move smoothly and meticulously. Everything you do requires coordination, although some movements require more advanced levels of coordination, such as playing a sport.

Anaerobic Conditioning

Anaerobic training involves short-lasting, a high-intensity activity where your body uses the oxygen already stored in your muscles for energy, therefore, running out of steam quicker than using unlimited energy from breathing the air outside. This type of training can come in many forms that you may be familiar with, including High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), heavy weight lifting, jumping rope, etc. Anaerobic conditioning is primarily for improving overall strength and muscle mass as opposed to cardiovascular fitness. But building muscle also requires a lot of energy, so it can also help with weight loss if it is alongside the right diet. Whatever your ambition, anaerobic training is a good choice of exercise.

All in all, training in athleticism gives you a wide range of options to maintain an appropriately challenging and engaging fitness regime, all the while being fun by allowing you to mix and match various workout styles to keep it interesting. We all know how running or cycling in place on a machine can get relatively boring, so finding exercises that require little to no equipment and are easy to do at any time is really quite important. And as with any training, repetition, and consistency are key.


 

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Exercise : Work or Play? You Decide!

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Exercise : Work or Play? You Decide!

Exercise, for me, has always been a necessity. Although most people think of me as a “strength guy”, I do choose to exercise in different ways. Most people associate cardiovascular training with running and seem to think that it’s the only way to get their conditioning in. However, my fellow movement specialists at P4L have seen time and time again, running isn't for everyone.

During my time in competitive powerlifting, my coach didn't allow us to run because endurance training (long, steady runs) can actually reduce overall strength and power. Because of this, I found other ways to condition myself: taking fewer breaks during training, playing basketball or football with my siblings, or just tiring out my dogs. All of these involved running to a degree, but they also involved quick and athletic movements, which helped me in my training to develop more power during lifts. Most importantly, though, they were fun.

Pictured : Coach Charles

Pictured : Coach Charles

Running first became something I thought of as fun when I was in boot camp - honestly, it was our only way of having fun. After boot camp, when I joined the Naval Fleet, we had to run in order to meet the requirements of our physical assessments. I found, once again, that doing endless push-ups and miles of running weren't fun for me.

Exercise can be tough at times, especially when you don't want to do it! So why not make it into something that is fun?
Pictured : Coach Cheri

Pictured : Coach Cheri

As a movement specialist at Perform for Life, I try to ensure that the exercises I prescribe are fun and enjoyable! I think I can speak for my fellow movement specialists when I say that they aim to do the same.  When people are having fun, they work harder. All of us try to make the hour with our clients an hour that they can look forward to, and an hour in which they genuinely enjoy exercising. Having this outlook encourages people to come back, and most importantly, it makes them happy.

Pictured : Coach Brandon and Coach Randall

Pictured : Coach Brandon and Coach Randall

Because I love powerlifting, I always encourage others to try it. Most people think of powerlifting as only the “big 3” - squat, bench, and deadlift - and lifting as much weight as possible.  But in order to get the most out of your training (for powerlifting or anything else) it’s important to mix it up. Training can be done using dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, cables, and many other modalities. Mixing up your routines can make exercise more enjoyable. Not only this, but it can yield better results. Exercise, simply put, is a stimulus that your body must respond to. Without variety in exercises or weights, your body will adapt to the exercise you do and plateau when it has responded appropriately (by losing a corresponding amount of fat or gaining a corresponding amount of muscle, etc). By adding variety to your routine, your body will have to adapt to this new stimulus and respond to it by producing new and appropriate results.

Exercise should NOT be a burden, and my P4L family and I realize exactly that - we aim to make it a lifestyle. Do what works best with your body, and most importantly, do types of exercise that you enjoy. Whether you decide to take a walk in Golden Gate Park or jog down Ocean Beach during an incredible sunset, just get out there and have some fun!

And if you don't know where to start, scroll down the "Small Group" page on our website to see when you can drop into a class with me. I can give you tips on how to rethink the way you see exercise through functional strength and athletic conditioning.



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Best Of : San Francisco's Farmers' Markets

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Best Of : San Francisco's Farmers' Markets

Hey everyone, Amber here! I’ve been wanting to do a review like this for such a long time and now it is finally happening. As with most millennials, I love myself a good farmers market. What’s not to love really? They’re fun, relatively inexpensive, and by shopping at them, you’re supporting your local community. So I bring to you a review of three farmer’s markets ranging in size, price, and overall experience so hopefully, you’ll end up loving them as much as I do!

I’ve arranged the reviews in order of the size of the farmers market, ranging from small to large for everyone’s convenience. Enjoy!


NOE VALLEY

Photo & Lettering : Coach Amber

Photo & Lettering : Coach Amber

Oh Noe Valley. I love this place. It’s warm here, there are babies and dogs running everywhere, and did I mention it’s warm?!

The farmers market here is located on 24th Street in between Sanchez and Vicksburg across the street from Martha & Brothers Coffee. It is held every Saturday from 8am - 1pm.

The best way to describe the vibe that this farmers market has is familial and intimate. There are a lot of families in Noe Valley, and as you would expect, many of the people at the farmers market with me were families with children. There is a play structure for kids and also live music, which I really enjoyed. Seating is also available, so you can enjoy your tasty treats immediately after purchase!

Now let’s break things down a little bit more. This market has 9 farm vendors putting it in the smaller category, which I would mark as both a pro and a con. On the one hand, it could be seen as a good thing because it’s less overwhelming and you can get in and out relatively quickly. On the other hand, fewer vendors means less variety and price flexibility. For me, this is what I struggled with the most: not having the flexibility to price match with other vendors.

Photo Credit : Coach Amber

Photo Credit : Coach Amber

As with most farmer’s markets, produce isn’t the only thing sold there. There are about 6 food vendors, varying from juice all the way to bread and honey. With such limited supply of vendors, customers are extremely loyal and know the value of the product in hand. Therefore, this market can be seen as a little more pricey than most others. Typically people spend anywhere from 15-30 minutes here. To summarize, great weather, higher in price, and good for families.


STONESTOWN

Photo & Lettering : Coach Amber

Photo & Lettering : Coach Amber

Stonestown Farmers' Market is located in the fog bank in the Lake Merced district of the city. It's held year-round behind the Stonestown Galleria directly next to the UA Theatre every Sunday from 9-1pm.

This market sucks you in just a little bit more. There are 65 vendors at this location, ranging from produce to fresh eggs. With the dramatic increase in vendors from the previous location, you spend a little more time walking around to find the best deal. This gives you more wiggle room to get the biggest bang for your buck. This market is also one well-suited for SF families - there is always live music and games laid out for kids to play with while parents shop.

Check out P4L's official tote bag; it's great for groceries and shopping!

Check out P4L's official tote bag; it's great for groceries and shopping!

Perhaps the biggest pro of this market is the parking situation. There is tons of parking all around the market, so you’re guaranteed to find a spot pretty easily. The food vendors here are great as well. My go-to favorite has to be the freshly made dumplings - they’re pretty cheap, filling, and delicious. And you know that if there’s always a line, it’s got to be great.

If you’re looking to really get your money’s worth for great quality produce, come visit this location on Sundays! You won’t regret it!

FERRY BUILDING

Photo & Lettering : Coach Amber

Photo & Lettering : Coach Amber

Alas, we’ve come to the end. The grand finale. I chose to review this market because unlike the rest, it’s the one I found myself spending the most time at, and quite easily too.

This market is located at the Ferry Building on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm, and Saturdays from 8am-2pm. With more than 100 vendors encompassing the Ferry Building, this is a great way to end this review.

Photo Credit : Coach Amber

Photo Credit : Coach Amber

Now, the weekday version of this market is not as big as Saturday’s show, but it still exudes the essence of the big one. Sprinkled with an array of food to farmed goods, it's important to try and stay focused as you walk the grounds of the Ferry Building. Since this location is so big, it’s very easy to get sidetracked and lose focus of what you came for.

My suggestion is to take an initial lap around the market to see if anything catches your eye, and then come back to buy things later - you might find a better deal on the other side.

Overall, if you and your family are looking to spend the day along the water with tourists, come to this market on Saturday. However, if you don’t want your shopping experience to be shared with tourists, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s markets are your best bet.


WHY SHOP LOCAL?

Shopping at farmers markets is a great thing to do because you really can taste the difference in the quality of the product. These farmers are passionate about growing quality produce and they want everyone to know their passion. Also, shopping locally supports small business owners and non-corporate farmers, and they’re the best, aren’t they?! Shopping locally can also reduce your carbon footprint: by buying locally, you eliminate the need for transporting goods over vast distances. The pollution produced in the process of transporting produce can be significant, so buying local is also good for Mother Earth!

Check out CUESA's seasonality charts to see what is in season. The less your food has to travel, the fresher it is!

Also, don’t forget to bring your reusable bags! Happy shopping!



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5 Ways to Resolve Your Immobility

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5 Ways to Resolve Your Immobility

Do neck tension or pain and lower back pain sound familiar to you?

Maybe you’ve told yourself you’re too busy with work, but when you get home from a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is get moving. Or perhaps you’re exploring a new city, but after walking 12 miles, you notice your knees and calves aching. Even driving aggravates your right shoulder or upper back!

If you notice discomfort in reaching for something in the food cabinet, putting on a shirt, or reaching behind you in the car seat, perhaps you are being limited by your lack of mobility.

Below are some simple ways you can add effective mobility work either at home, in your office, or in your hotel room - and all you really need is a foam roller and a band or light dumbbell (if you’ve got one of those on the go).

Give them a try and see how they go!

1. SHOULDER MOBILITY and/or OVERHEAD MOVEMENT

Do you feel limited when you’re lifting overhead? Perhaps you’re trying to improve your throwing arm so you can win that San Francisco City Rec League game.

  • Foam roller serratus slide and lift off - similar to the video linked, but at the top of the slide, you lift one arm off the foam roller at a time OR better yet, do it on the ground like this.
  • This is great to improve your mobility, stability, and motor control. The serratus anterior muscle is a big player in overhead motion.
  • This exercise focuses on upward rotation and posterior tilt of the scapula - as we want the scapula to be able to move in this motion when going overhead.

2. THORACIC SPINE EXTENSION & ROTATION

Do you sit 8 hours a day at work? Do you notice your shoulders rounding forward or feeling slouched forward?

  • Thoracic spine (t-spine) extension on the foam roller: I’m sure most of you have seen or done this exercise at P4L, as this is a fantastic exercise for those of you with desk jobs or a job that requires bending over often.
  • (Banded) Thread the Needle
    • Adding a band to the exercise helps reach deeper ranges - just tie a band to a something sturdy and hold onto the band as you reach under
    • Rotation can be quite effective in improving T-spine extension as well, so this is a great exercise to help improve both.

3. PEC LENGTH

Do you notice your shoulders rounding forward or feeling slouched forward?

  • Eccentric dumbbell fly on roller - I love this one when I really need to open up my shoulders and lengthen my pecs.
    • Chronically tight pecs can lead to rounded shoulders and even neck and/or shoulder pain  (the pec minor attaches on your scapula, and when tight, can round your shoulders forward). Paired with the t-spine extension or rotation, these mobilities are a great way to counteract the effects of sitting at a desk all day!

4. HIP INTERNAL ROTATION

Does your job require you to sit all day? Do you feel like your hips are always tight? Perhaps you have been dealing with some low back pain or even some knee pain.

  • Supine 90/90 hip IR breathing - (for hip IR, walk the feet outwards, keeping the knees against the foam roller) - this is what I learned in the Clinical Athlete Weightlifting Seminar that I attended a few months ago.
    • Poor breathing patterns can actually have an effect on mental well-being and are linked with anxiety, depression and chronic stress. The process in which the diaphragm pulls air into the lungs is crucial in creating trunk stability, and trunk stability are crucial in stabilizing the spine and generating force at the hip or shoulder, which translates directly to workouts.

    • Proper breathing pattern maintains posture. Your body should be able to support itself without much effort - you shouldn’t need to clench your butt cheeks and pull your shoulders back to maintain proper posture. If you’re doing it right, you should just be there naturally.

    • This is good for getting you set in a more neutral position and opening up your hip joint internal rotation. Breathing plus internal rotation tends to be very beneficial for improving your hips’ ability to internally rotate, and gets the pelvis positioned more neutrally (the primary hip flexor, the psoas major, flexes and externally rotates. If chronically tight, it can cause long-term external rotation of the femur).

5. GLUTE ACTIVATION

Do you every feel like you spend most of your day sitting and working? Do you feel like your hips are always tight? Perhaps you’ve been dealing with some low back pain or even some knee pain.

  • Sidelying clamshell - another golden nugget I learned from Dr. Quinn Henoch, DPT at the Clinical Athlete Seminar. This, along with rolling out the tensor fascia latae (TFL) and iliotibial (IT) band can help desensitize the hip before using the clamshell to activate the glutes.
    • Weak and/or inhibited glutes may be related to your low back pain. Try this pairing out if you’re experiencing some low back pain and notice your glutes are “sleepy”.
    • Sure, you have your bridges and clams, but this pairing of exercise and self-myofascial release is extremely effective. Some glute activation in those exercises is great, but it’s even better when you can also maintain breathing patterns and trunk position.



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