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Never Have Joint Pains or Another Injury Ever Again

Updated: Jan 7

Never have joint pains or another injury ever again? “No way!, Not possible!” is what your brain is telling you and 100’s of my clients tell me every time I explain this to them when we first meet. While it may not be 100% likely you can escape every future injury or eliminate nerve damage from past injuries, it is possible to eliminate most aches and pains and chances for future injuries with these helpful tips.

Identify Your Problem Areas First

This is a blind spot for most people including personal trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists these days. While most people understand some of the basic fundamentals, very few can connect the dots or see all the blind spots and angles they are missing right in front of them. The blind spots I’m talking about are postural deviations in the way you walk, move, sit, sleep, and the list goes on. While most people think of their posture as something that is static or constant, this is false! Your posture is evolving daily around your movements and even non-movements.

How is this possible you might ask? Posture is how we hold ourselves and the alignment and position of our limbs, joints, and bodies as a whole. When our posture is bad or misaligned, this can be identified in the way we hold ourselves, aches and pains we feel in our bodies, and range of motion we have or don’t have either standing, sitting, or performing any movement. When our muscles are shortened, this in turn causes a change to the position and range of motion around joints. When your muscle tissue is altered in length or shortened, this will cause you your joints to not properly line up and expose these very tight areas and muscles that need to be addressed.

Attack Your Tight Muscles and Problem Areas

Once you have identified these problem areas, you must attack these adhesions or knots in your muscles with pressure through fascial release whether through various forms of massage therapy, Self-Myofascial Release (SMFR) also known as foam rolling, or other forms of soft tissue release. You cannot proper or fully lengthen a muscles until you have done this step first.  According to Michael Clark, MS, PT, PES, CSCS and founder of the National Academy of Sports Medicine “By performing Self-Myofascial Release techniques on a simple piece of foam, your clients can improve flexibility, function, performance, and reduce injuries. In a nutshell, your clients use their own body weight to roll on the round foam roller, massaging away restrictions to normal soft-tissue extensibility. And your clients can perform this program at home, maximizing their recovery time.” I have been doing SMFR techniques for over 15 years with clients helping hundreds of clients rehabilitate from sports injuries and major trauma to helping everyday people and athletes both perform and feel better.

In order to fully understand how and why this works so effectively, you must first have a basic understanding of the Kinetic Chain and how it works. The kinetic chain is made up of the soft tissue system (muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia), neural system (nerves and the Central Nervous System), and articular system (joints). The kinetic chain works as an integrated functional unit. All components of the kinetic chain exist interdependently. If one component is not functioning efficiently, then the other components must compensate, leading to tissue overload, fatigue, faulty movement patterns, and finally initiates the Cumulative Injury Cycle.

Cumulative Injury Cycle

How the Cumulative Injury Cycle breaks down is muscle tightness restricts the range of motion that a joint may be moved. When muscle restriction occurs (tightness, soft tissue adhesions, and neural-hyperactivity), joint motion is altered, thus changing normal neural feedback to the CNS (central nervous system). Ultimately, neuromuscular efficiency is compromised, which leads to poor movement patterns, inducing premature fatigue and causing injury. The SMFR (Self-Myofascial Release) Program helps you and your clients improve muscular balance and performance.

There are two basic neural receptors are located in skeletal muscle tissue. These receptors are the Muscle Spindles and the Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO). Muscle Spindles are located parallel to the muscle fibers. They record changes in fiber length, and rate of change to the CNS. Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO) are located at the musculotendinous junction. They are sensitive to change in tension and rate of tension change. Stimulation of the GTO’s past a certain threshold inhibits the muscle spindle activity, and decreases muscular tension. This means your muscles are inhibited by their own receptors or this is also known as Autogenic Inhibition.

What is a Foam Roller?

A foam roller is, what a lot of fitness professionals refer to as, “the poor man’s massage.” When choosing a foam roller, product density is very important. Foam rolling simulates a deep tissue massage by working out the tension in your hard working muscles and providing a release for the outer sack of your muscles, also known as the fascia; hence the technical name for foam rolling: self-myofascial release (or SMR). If the foam is too soft, less than adequate tissue massage is applied. On the other hand, if the foam is too hard, bruising and more advanced soft-tissue trauma may occur, leading to further restriction, initiation of the inflammatory process, decreased range of motion, pain, and decreased performance. I use a combination of tools with my clients from soft and firm foam rollers, to Lacrosse balls and PVC pipes you may find at your local hardware store.

How does a Foam Roller work?

How to Foam Roll Your Calves

Start by either laying your body on the foam roller or placing the foam roller below you on the ground on the specific muscle group you are targeting. Resting 30-45 seconds on painful areas will stimulate the GTO and autogenically inhibit the muscle spindles; reducing muscular tension and will help regulate fascial receptors. Make sure you hold that pressure for the entire duration or it will not be effective. You don’t have to put pressure directly on the sore or tender area, near the area will also do. If you have a hard time applying enough force to release tight muscles, either change your tool to firmer or smaller object, add additional force yourself, ask your trainer, a friend or family member to help, or change your body’s position to apply more pressure as needed.

Once you have broken up all your knots and tight spots in your muscles, you need to stretch and length those targeted muscles back out to a proper length with static stretching. Hold each stretch for approximately 20-30 seconds. This allows you muscle time to relax and fully lengthen out.

Work on Correcting Your Form and Every Day Movement Patterns

After identifying your postural deviations and eliminating tights spots, the next step is correcting your movement patterns to ensure you aren’t repeating the same mistakes. The first step is learning what proper form and postural alignment is and then what deviations you are making in your everyday movement from walking and squatting with your feet and knees turning in or out or hunching over your phone or computer all day. You can also have tightness caused by inactivity, such as sitting down for long durations of time which compromises your hips by keeping them in a flexed position.

Think of every action having a reaction in the body or as “cause and effect.” If you think of every movement you from your feet to your head and vice versa as a ripple effect, this will better help you understand your connection between with your upper body and lower body and the effects have on one another. This awareness helps me daily identify tight muscles in my clients in the gym immediately before we start training or receiving any verbal feedback from them. While most of my clients don’t realize I’m looking at their posture and movement pattern the second I say “hi”, while they are warming up, and every exercise and repetition after that. My goal with most clients is teaching more mind body awareness and proprioception, meaning “one’s own”, “individual,” and to take or grasp, is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement. This is achieved through constant verbal feedback asking them to explain how and what they are feeling to non-verbal or other external feedback such as performing exercises in front of the mirror.

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