4 Tips for Rehabilitation

Comment

4 Tips for Rehabilitation

Many people who have pain from injuries, accidents, disease or just the activities of everyday life seek help to solve their problems. Often times, they’re able to see a physical therapist or another health practitioner who will diagnose what’s causing the pain, perform appropriate treatment, and give directions on how to proceed with rehabilitation. The practitioner may guide the patient in person through his or her rehab or may assign exercises for the individual to do at home at a certain frequency or for a specific length of time.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation are fantastic and help many people in pain, but they can at times be very monotonous and frustrating because being in pain is hard. Tasks and movements that were simple and taken for granted before now cause suffering and may even be impossible to do. Additionally, the rehabilitation process can be quite lengthy, especially if there is severe damage from injury or disease. Patients with pain often go through many emotional battles not just from the physical pain itself, but from the impact it can have on their lives.

But with diligence in rehabilitation, a strategic approach to the body, and the right mindset, most people can come out of pain. If you’re in pain, seek help from a health practitioner for guidance on what to do. And if you’re in the thick of recovery, hopefully, these tips can help you on your way.

1. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small.

If you were bedridden yesterday, be grateful that you can now get up. If you could barely stand yesterday, be excited about the fact that you can now jump. If you could slowly walk yesterday, be proud that you can now run. Even if you get up slow, or you don’t jump as high, or you don’t run as fast, progress is progress. Okay, we don’t usually heal overnight, but my point is that celebrating victories is about appreciating the details - maybe it hurts less when you try to touch your toes, maybe it used to hurt as soon as you lifted your arm and now it only hurts when you reach above your head. Manage your expectations and set realistic goals so that you won’t be disappointed and will stay motivated to keep pushing forward.

2. Don’t fight through the pain.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “no pain, no gain.” Maybe in the past, we’ve been pushed and pushed by coaches while we work out to “Fight through the pain!” Understand that (hopefully) these are references to pushing through challenge and muscle “burn” and not the literal pain that we feel as sharpness, numbness, or tingling. If an exercise is causing pain, stop doing it. Pain is our body’s way of communicating that we’re putting ourselves at risk of harm, so if an exercise is causing pain, don’t do it, or regress the exercise. Do an easier version that doesn’t trigger symptoms and master that movement before attempting a harder progression. If an exercise is challenging and you feel your muscles working hard, then that’s great - you should practice that, and make sure that you’re getting plenty of rest and recovery as well.

3. Balance the injured and uninjured.

Lots of patients, very commonly, have an injury on only one side. For example, you might have sprained your ankle and then seen a practitioner. He or she recommends that you allow for some rest for healing and so that inflammation can go down and when that’s better, to do mobilization and strengthening exercises, then maybe some balance, stability and even plyometric work. This is all great and it helps with recovery, but what often happens is the formerly injured side heals and becomes better - stronger, more mobile, and more stable - than the uninjured side. While you do your rehab exercises, give both sides, including the healthy side, some love so as to ensure balance and symmetry.

4. Consistency, consistency, and consistency.

At the end of the day, successful rehab comes down to consistency. As with working out, you don’t get results with one good workout. You have to work out consistently, eat nutritious and healthy food consistently, and sleep well consistently to see results over time. You have to do rehab exercises daily because often times you’re trying to break strong compensation patterns, rebuild atrophied muscle, restore stability to important joints, and generally fix biomechanics. It takes great treatment, smart rehab prescription, careful but effective integration and a lot of diligence and commitment to healing and movement to get a worthwhile, long-term result.


Comment

What Are YOUR Priorities?

Comment

What Are YOUR Priorities?

Everyone has a choice. In a given situation, your choices may be limited, or it may be unreasonable by most standards to choose certain options, but the choice is always there. If you are being robbed at gunpoint, you can choose to acquiesce and hand over your money, or you can resist. For most people, it is not worth the risk to fight for your money, but it is still a choice you have to make in that situation.

I have heard the words “I can't” more times than I can count in the context of discussing an exercise or diet regimen. Almost always, this is completely untrue, and not just from a semantics perspective. Typically, it's a matter of prioritizing other things instead: relaxing after work, doing work, family time, going out on the town, etc. It is not my job to judge people for the choices they make and how they prioritize their time. Rather, it is my job to help people understand which choices make achieving their goals more likely, and simply to help them realize that it is, in fact, a choice they make.

One of my first clients I worked with after I moved to the Bay Area is the CEO of a company that was acquired for about a billion dollars. He has a lot of employees depending on him to keep the company successful, and I doubt anyone would suggest that his job isn't demanding. However, he really enjoyed exercise, numerous times providing unsolicited feedback about how happy he was with the changes he saw both physically and mentally. In the 2.5 years I worked with him before I left that facility, I think he cancelled our session for work reasons only once or twice on short notice.

My former client flat out told me once that he prioritizes going to the gym more highly than his job, and that proved true the vast majority of the time. Again, it is a choice, even when it seems unreasonable to follow certain paths. In this case, a lot of people might deem his priorities as unreasonable, but ultimately that is completely a matter of opinion. In the end, it even proved beneficial for his work, as increased productivity is something he cited as a benefit of the regular exercise he was doing.

Next time you set a goal for yourself, be realistic about what you want, and what it's worth to you. For example, let's take the goal of having a visible six pack. Some people might think they really want this goal, but thinking about it this way has its issues. Most importantly, it ignores what you give up or change to get there. Make sure having a visible six pack is worth those changes to you.

If I told you that to get a six-pack you would have to eat out infrequently, prepare your meals in advance, stop drinking alcohol almost entirely, get 7+ hours of sleep every night, eat a specific number of calories each day, and work out most days of the week for months, would you still want to reach that goal?

For some, the answer is still yes, they want to reach this goal at all costs. For others, they realize that they don't want a six-pack as much as they think they do. More specifically, they prioritize certain behaviors more than having a visible six-pack. Either choice is fine by me, as long as you understand that you are making that choice.

Next time you make a choice, phrase it as such in your mind when you make that decision. For example, don't think to yourself “I want a six-pack.” Instead, think to yourself, “I want a six-pack more than I want that third piece of pizza.” Next time you want to skip a workout, don't think to yourself “I really want to go home and watch Netflix.” Instead, think to yourself, “I want to watch Netflix more than I want to get in shape.” Once you pose the question or idea to yourself like that, you can truly make your decision. Maybe you choose slice #3 over the six-pack. Fine by me, as long as you realize that's what you're doing! Just don’t keep saying you want something, but instead choosing a different path whenever an opportunity arises for your actions to reflect this desire.

To wrap it up, this isn't really an article about how to help you achieve your goals. Rather, it is an article about being honest with yourself and choosing goals that make sense for what you want. Special thanks to my former client referenced earlier; a conversation we had largely inspired this article. Until next time… choose wisely!


 

Comment

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Comment

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Wrist pain is an extremely common complaint by many people because of the demands of our daily routines - working at a desk and computer, doing manual work with our hands, and just simply being on our phones for too long. I myself am no stranger to wrist pain as I took piano lessons for eleven years while simultaneously playing tennis competitively for five years through the end of high school. During my suffering, I quickly diagnosed myself as having carpal tunnel syndrome, which was an incorrect assumption that many people often make.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterized by pain, numbness, or tingling in the wrist during gripping, wrist movement or even just to the touch. It’s caused by compression of the median nerve by the transverse carpal ligament (below). Doctors may recommend splinting the wrist, a cortisone shot, or anti-inflammatory drugs. However, if symptoms worsen, doctors may perform a surgery cutting the transverse carpal ligament to free the entrapment of the nerve.

Source: John Hopkins Medicine

Source: John Hopkins Medicine

The unfortunate truth is that most of these surgeries end up destabilizing and weakening the wrist because of the newfound lack of structural support from the ligament - even worse, the initial pain is still there. So what went wrong? The problem is that the site of pain is oftentimes not the source of pain. In this case, there was only treatment and intervention at the site of pain, without consideration to the body as a whole.

Very commonly, carpal tunnel syndrome-like symptoms are actually because of upper thoracic outlet syndrome. This is another condition in which an individual may experience pain, numbness, or tingling anywhere in the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder, or neck. This happens as a result of a nerve entrapment in the brachial plexus, a clustered network of nerves in the neck and shoulder, or anywhere along its nerve pathway (below). Usually, soft tissue release or massage around the plexus or on muscles along the nerve pathway will relieve pain that even a carpal tunnel surgery cannot. These muscles may include the scalenes, pectoralis minor, biceps brachii, and the wrist flexors to name just a few of the possibilities.

Source: Core Walking

Source: Core Walking

Sometimes, a carpal tunnel surgery is needed because there may truly be excessive compression of the median nerve at the wrist that massage may not be able to fix. But in most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome is a misdiagnosis that ends up hurting the patient more than helping them. If you have symptoms of pain or discomfort in the wrist or anywhere in the body, be sure to seek multiple opinions and try treatment and healing modalities less severe and irreversible than surgery.

Comment

Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Comment

Are You Holding Yourself Back?

One of the first questions we trainers ask our clients at Perform for Life is “What is your goal?” As you can imagine, we get a wide variety of a lot of responses, from wanting to lose weight to getting bigger/stronger to being able to perform a certain task. I always try to avoid pushing a goal on an athlete, as a goal that I give them won’t truly drive them in a way that a goal they themselves came up with could. As a coach, it’s my job to help my athletes find the "why" that brings them into the gym. Weight loss and/or looking bigger can be your ‘why’ and there’s nothing wrong with that, but a question I like to ask next is “what can’t you do now that you’d like to, within reason, be able to do?”

I like this question because it follows the training philosophy we use at Perform for Life: we want everything to be built off of health and foundational/functional movement first then to work towards performance goals. If an athlete answers with “running”, we then look at why he or she can’t run at the moment. Sometimes it’s because of pain during running, after running, or it’s because the athlete simply doesn’t feel confident in their running. After the initial assessment, we’re able to see how close an athlete may be to this activity, and we’re able to develop a program that will help them work towards it. There are many different starting levels in an exercise program: someone may be working back from an injury, or simply exercising for the first time, so it’s our job to use progressions and regressions to safely work the athlete up to the activity they’d like to be able to do. We know our scope and will be honest as to whether we think we can help our athlete toward that goal, or whether they might need to be referred out to someone like our bodywork specialist Bob Gazso or another health practitioner. The little ‘within reason’ addition to my original question is for just this: we can accomplish many of our goals if we set our minds to them, but there are just some injuries/conditions that will prevent people from doing certain activities.

So why do I want people to really ask themselves, “What can’t I do now that I would like to be able to do?” Because I don’t think there should be anything in life that your body holds you back from - I believe that is true health. If ever you find yourself saying ‘no’ to something because you aren’t sure you’re physically able to do it, take a step back and ask yourself, “Do I want to be able to do this?” If it’s relatively unimportant to you, then move on; however, if there is something fun you’ve already counted yourself out of, maybe it’s time to make a change. Perhaps you’re already doing the activity you enjoy, but want to improve your performance. These are the types of goals that really drive people to the gym because they’re based on movement and quality of life. No one is happy to say they can’t do something, so start knocking things off of that list - think of something you want to accomplish, and start taking steps to accomplish it. This can apply in all realms of your life.

I am in no way detracting from the people out there coming into the gym to put on muscle or lose weight, but to them I’ll just say this: why not accompany that goal with one that has more meaning in your life? Make the gym somewhere that you look forward going to, and somewhere that you’re doing something that will truly improve your quality of life!

Comment

How to Reset Your Body for a New Day

Comment

How to Reset Your Body for a New Day

Preparing for a new day starts with the day and night before. Although most would say that you should get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, everyone’s body is different, and with that, each person’s sleep requirements vary. If you’re an 8-hour sleeper - awesome! If you’re a 5-7 hour sleeper like me, read below for tips and strategies. If you think you’re a 3-4 hour sleeper, then I would recommend you prioritize getting more sleep! Whether it's because of stress, work, or life in general, everyone encounters times when our sleep is out of our control, but sleep is extremely important, so it should be somewhere on everyone’s list of priorities. I’ll talk more in a bit about ways to make you feel less tired throughout the day.

Sometimes we just lay in our bed in our thoughts and continually wonder when we'll fall asleep. As a kid, and even now, I will listen to music that I know will put me in a more relaxed state. Put down the bright phone screen (or if you have to be on it, use your phone’s night shift and turn down the brightness), turn off the Netflix, and don’t forget to breathe.

THE NIGHT BEFORE

  • Foam roll: Bodily tension may make it harder to fall asleep. You want your body to feel relaxed so that your muscles can better regenerate as you sleep, and foam rolling is a perfect way to release any tension you may be holding from the day. Think about getting a massage - how easy is it to fall asleep after? (Source: https://www.fab-ent.com/foam-rolling-better-sleep/)

  • Set your alarm - use a song that you'd be happy to wake up to instead of the preset noises your iPhone or Android comes with.

WHILE IN BED

  • Breathe: try deep breathing to calm your nerves. Deep (belly) breathing stimulates the “rest and digest” portion of your autonomic nervous system, thus slowing your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, and allowing your mind to relax. Check out the article below for some deep breathing exercises (Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/18735-deep-breathing-exercises-sleep/)
  • Cuddle with your significant other- nothing is better than falling asleep with your boo
  • Single? No problem- more space to spread out
  • Have a pet? If you’re open to it, allow them to sleep with you. Though the evidence isn’t conclusive, some studies have shown that animal-human co-sleeping can improve sleep quality.

 

THE NEXT MORNING

  • As you wake up from your alarm, do NOT snooze! Let your song play out. This will allow you to wake up slowly, as opposed to snoozing and rushing when you’re finally out of bed.
  • As your song plays, stretch while in bed. We tend to hold positions for long periods of time while sleeping, and this can cause the muscles that are shortened in these positions to become tight. (Source: https://www.prevention.com/fitness/do-these-stretches-before-getting-out-of-bed/slide/2)
  • After getting out of bed, hit about 5 squats before you head to the bathroom and do your thing: brush your teeth, wash your face, etc.
  • Try to drink a large (16oz) glass of water within 15 minutes of waking up, then don’t be afraid to follow it up with your favorite morning beverage, coffee, tea, or juice. Starting the morning with water will rehydrate you and stimulate your metabolism

Starting your day off with a routine like this will allow you to maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Now, the hard part expect the unexpected. There are days when work, life, and the world around us can be quite stressful, and this can affect our emotions. Stress is a part of the American adult lifestyle, plain and simple; we must try different ways to cope with it until we know what works.

DURING THE DAY / END OF THE DAY

  • Continue to breathe! Calm your mind. If you’re feeling stressed at a given moment, try a five-second inhale through the nose, allowing the air to fill your belly, followed by a seven-second exhale

  • Exercise! Get your butt in the gym to release some pent-up stress

  • Plan ahead and make a playlist to listen to in times of stress - music can be a great stress reliever

  • Talk to people! Call a friend or family member, or talk to a co-worker. Human interaction can really go a long way, and it’ll allow you to air out any frustration or stress you may be feeling. Keeping these things internalized can allow them to take over your entire psyche. Getting these things out in the open will put them into perspective, and can make them seem more manageable

  • Help someone in need. Whatever it is, make someone else’s day better, and yours will be too.

Hopefully, these tips helped you reset your body for a new day. Below, I've attached a playlist that personally energizes me. Find the tunes, sounds, people, places, and things that ignite that spark in you.


Comment