How does physical movement inform consciousness?

Have you ever wondered how we got to this point in our evolutionary history? How did we become so much less physical than our ancestors? How did we become so much more intellectually advanced? We’ve been through more than a few changes throughout our evolutionary history as human beings. Not the least of which have been physical changes. For millennia our physicality has been informing our consciousness, and our consciousness has been informing our physicality. Some people think we’ve gone too far away from “normal” human activities and are experiencing the consequences in our health. Others view technology as a godsend that will ultimately find a solution for the health issues we’re experiencing. I fall somewhere in between, and love asking questions about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we should be headed as highly conscious physical beings.

I’m sure many of you have seen this meme, and most of you probably found it a little disturbing. It definitely highlights some troubling aspects of our evolution, but more than anything it makes me wonder what it must have been like having such a highly physical human experience like our ancestors. I believe a lot of that physicality is rooted in survival, and as we became more clever and more evolved we found ways to do more than survive. Yet in some ways we are still very much in survival mode. Today survival looks dramatically different than it did 10,000 years ago. I would guess that 10,000 years ago, the level of collective/communal thought occurred on a level that we can’t really comprehend today. Their struggles were dramatically different than ours, and so was their orientation to pain and physicality. And as easy as it is for us to romanticize times of the past, I believe that we ended up here for a reason.

In some sense we’re all participating in and evolving this human experience, so I believe it’s important to find a way to learn from our past (not romanticize it) in order to properly engage in the present and build a better future.

I say all this, and I know I’m a hypocrite and don’t live up to that vision sometimes. It’s a complex world and it’s not so easy to simply navigate your way to a better future. I do think, however, that one of the first steps we can take towards a better future is discussing what that future looks like. It’s obvious to most of us (especially in the Western world) that we’re dealing with a vast array of modern ailments that arose out of our dramatic changes in lifestyle over the past few hundred years. We haven’t evolved to handle our modern diets and movement habits, and every day we feel the consequences of our new lifestyles through pain, injury, and diseases that our ancestors mostly didn’t experience.

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Glute Activation: A Western Epidemic

A few years ago I remember hearing Tiger Woods on national television saying his poor performance was due to his glute not activating. Now if I were to speculate, I would guess that there were more than few other reasons Tiger was struggling, but that’s another story. When I first heard him talk about this issue of a glute not firing, I had no idea what he was talking about, and I was confused as to why he was blaming his dysfunctional ass for his poor performance. Little did I know, that this issue of glutes not activating/firing is actually an epidemic that plagues a substantial portion of the Western world. So many of us are experiencing pain in other parts of our body (knees, back, etc.) from a glute not activating, yet have no idea we’re dealing with this issue.

If there’s one thing we are consistently good at in the Western world, it’s sitting. This is a major contributor to the issue of one or both glutes not firing.

Since meeting Elisha I’ve become aware that I lot of the pain I was experiencing was likely due to a lack of glute activation. For me, it’s been the right gluteus medius and left gluteus maximus not firing. Just one glute muscle consistently not firing is enough to cause a compensation pattern that eventually causes us pain.

I’ve been working the past few weeks with my friend Jason who is a trainer and Kinetix practitioner, trying to get my glutes firing. He’s had a lot of success helping people in this arena, so Elisha hooked me up with some training sessions to see if we could get my glutes activating consistently. I’m definitely making incremental progress, and I experience my glutes firing more often (but not always) in movements where they should activate. My nervous system has been stubborn as hell, and those compensation patterns I developed early on are deeply engrained. Yes, I’m a difficult case ;).

It’s amazing how deeply entrenched those compensation patterns can be, but it shouldn’t surprise me. After all, I had been sitting for the majority of my day every day since I started grade school and I never learned to lift weights or perform athletic movements properly when I was playing sports. These compensation patterns happen to so many of us, and often we have no idea that they’re happening.

This issue of glute inactivation is both a fascinating and disturbing phenomenon of Western society that needs to be addressed.

I’m curious to learn more about this topic, hear your stories, and provide more insights as I start to have more success getting my own glutes firing. Do you think you have a glute not firing? Do you have pain that could be caused by a lack of glute activation? Have you ever had experience with a glute not firing and found a way to get it firing again? This epidemic of glutes not firing is something that’s affected me and so many others, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any success stories you might have with getting glutes to activate.

Please share this post if you’ve had issues with glute activation or if you want to contribute to the conversation. If you have comments or questions drop them below! And if you enjoyed this Mobility Mastery Q&A and have a question that you’d like us to feature, please send your questions to stefancox@mobilitymastery.com so I can surprise Elisha with them :).

See ya next time,

Stefan


Free the Balls: Can tight fascia cause testicle pain?

Guest Post: Stefan Cox

Doc, I’m not exactly sure how to say this, but… my testicles are in a world of hurt. Sound familiar? Let’s hope not, especially for our ladies in the audience, but for men it’s not as uncommon as you might think. Nobody wants to talk about it, just like nobody wants to walk in to a doctor’s office for a physical and cough while someone you see once a year checks your unmentionables to make sure there’s no hernia. So let’s break a little taboo here.

Don’t be bashful:

Most men (myself included) experience testicle pain at some point, and it’s always good to make sure and rule out any potential issues that could be really serious. However, there are a lot of men who experience testicle pain that is simply a result of fascial adhesions in other areas of their bodies. Elisha has encountered this in her private practice before, but it’s highly unusual because most men are a little too bashful to come out and say it… but if you’ve been in pain long enough, that dignity starts to fade pretty fast. I don’t think we should be ashamed of this issue, and it’s usually a completely natural issue. Often testicle pain will manifest as a result of fascial adhesions or tension in the adductors. When Elisha did encounter this in her private practice, releasing the adductor had a massive impact on relieving testicle pain.

Other potential causes of testicle pain could be pain that originated in the sitz bones, and because that pain wasn’t properly addressed, it later resulted in testicle pain. No matter what the cause is, it’s not anything to be bashful about, and is a serious issue for plenty of men. I rarely have testicle pain, but getting my adductors released (although it can be intense) always helps me feel more mobile through the hips, testicles, and perineum and relieves tension and tightness in those areas. I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with testicle pain, or if you’re simply looking to gain mobility and relieve a little tension.

Taking care of the family jewels: 

So fellas, let’s make sure we’re taking care of our boys and giving them the attention and care they deserve, not just constant bragging and references to being well endowed. And ladies, thank your for bearing with us through this unusual post, and don’t forget that the adductors are often tied to female genitalia pain too. For anyone looking to eliminate genitalia pain or tension, check out is the adductor self-help release technique.

I’d love to hear more from you about your stories and experiences with the genitalia pain in relation to the adductors or other parts of the body. If you’ve been experiencing pain, were you able to eliminate it with the adductor release technique? If you have other pain that’s led to to testicle pain, what do you think the root cause was? How can we make this issue a little less taboo and get both men and women the help they need?

Please share this post if you want to contribute to the conversation, and don’t forget to #freetheballs. If you have comments or questions drop them below! And if you enjoyed this Q&A Monday and have a question that you’d like us to feature, please send your questions to stefancox@mobilitymastery.com so I can surprise Elisha with them :).

See ya next time,

Stefan

Fascia and the Nervous System

Guest Post: Stefan Cox

The nervous system:

Holy shit, where do we even begin? It’s connected to everything. Every pain sensation, pleasure sensation and everything in between. It’s connected to breathing, movement, drugs, diet, thought, and pretty much every human activity you could think of. As Elisha’s said many times, every nerve ending is coated in a piece of fascia. There’s plenty of scientific evidence supporting the existence of a relationship between fascia and the nervous system, yet there is a very limited understanding of that relationship. Elisha is one of few people I know of who is consciously aware of this relationship between fascia and the nervous system, and is the only person I know of who is facilitating communication between the nervous system and fascia in a way that can result in lasting physiological and psychological change.

Being new to this information, I’m naturally very curious about it’s implications for me personally, and for a wide variety people with a wide variety of challenges. A few years ago I never would have dreamed that you could impact autoimmune diseases through fascial release. Now I find myself asking questions like: Are there different categories/types of nervous systems that manifest physically in the fascia? Do you think the fascial system is an organ? If it’s an organ, then what’s it’s primary function?

Metaphors: Fascia and the nervous system

All of these questions (and many more) bewilder me when I start thinking about the implications of how they could help us physically, mentally, and everywhere in-between. I love the metaphor Elisha talks about in this video: if our lives are a story, the fascia is the paper and the nervous system is the pen. Sometimes we are so caught up writing the same damn story that it’s easier to change that story by introducing a new kind of paper (or medium) than it is to try and change how we write. To carry on the metaphor, most of us have been writing the same story in the same way for years… because it served us at some point. Sure, there are ways to change how we write by addressing it directly, and they’re usually a slow arduous process. But if we are given a new kind of paper/medium to write our stories on, our style of writing changes naturally and out of necessity to accommodate the novelty it’s been presented with.

I think traditional healing modalities and activities, like psychotherapy, meditation, massage, nlp, yoga, etc. are all beneficial activities. If you enjoy them or feel benefit from them, they can be good tools. I have used all of the above to varying extents and felt benefit from them… and if you’re looking for the most efficient tools to change your story, then I think it’s best to look at tools that change the medium you write your story on. Kinetix is one of those tools, and is the most novel tool I know of.

Questions and more questions:

As I’ve continued to grow and learn I’ve become more and more curious about novel and effective ways of changing the mind and body to bring us more fulfillment in life. I think the nervous system is a fascinating piece of that puzzle, and I can’t wait to nerd out about it more!

I’d love to hear more from you about your stories and experiences with the nervous system, fascia, or both. What are your thoughts and opinions on changing the medium for effective change? How can we leverage this knowledge of the nervous system to better our lives? What are your favorite practices and techniques for bringing about real, effective, and efficient change in your life?

Please share this post if you want to contribute to the conversation or if you know anyone struggling with nervous system issues. If you have comments or questions drop them below! And if you enjoyed this Q&A Monday and have a question that you’d like us to feature, please send your questions to stefancox@mobilitymastery.com so I can surprise Elisha with them :).

See ya next time,

Stefan

If you’re not breathing, you’re dead! Learn how to breathe better and easier with a few simple tips

It’s pretty obvious, right?

If you’re not breathing…you’re dead! Yet…we’re kinda walking around half dead or half alive every single day.

Art by Chalermphol Harnchakkham

So many of us suck in our stomachs, pretending to have washboard abs. We’re afraid to make any noises while we breathe because it’s not socially “normal” and essentially, whether due to stress and anxiety or gut issues and not speaking your truth in the world, we’re “holding our breath” as much as we can without actually dying. But I guarantee if you’re not breathing well, you’re not living as well as you could and how you breathe is a great indicator of how alive you probably feel on a daily basis.

Stefan truly surprised me with this question! I’m so glad he did. I used to hold my breath 24/7. Thankfully, I gained a lot of self-acceptance, self-confidence and stopped caring what most people think about me on a daily basis. I let myself make noises and I invite the people in my life to make them with me! Which actually makes for some really weird, fun, bizarre moments together…and we laugh a TON. That alone could be part of the healing right?! Laughter truly is medicine, as corny as the saying is.

This is a huge, massive, life-saving topic that I wish our culture and this industry (the health and fitness industry) talked about more often. Watch the latest episode of Mobility Mastery Monday POP Q&A below, then please add your comments on this blog, YouTube channel and Facebook.

I’d LOVE to hear from you on this!

Do you struggle with breathing well on a daily basis?

What was your biggest takeaway?

Are you going to try any of the suggestions in this video, and if so – which ones fit home for you and inspired you to take action?

How to breathe easier:

  1. Let go of self-consciousness and HAVE FUN WITH BREATHING! Make noises on your exhales, even the relaxed ones. Make airplane noises! Yell, groan, jump up and down or shake your whole body out. And PLEASE – laugh! This is honestly the best thing I personally know of (that few people talk about online). There are PLENTY of “how to breathe” articles all over the internet. I haven’t yet read one that encourages you to make noises, laugh at yourself and shake your whole body. While the breathing itself is important…I believe it’s even more important to break the nervous system pattern with laughter, and add an element of play and fun into something that’s otherwise so serious.
  2. If you’re anxious or stressed, definitely try exaggerating the emotion you feel and get it OUT on the exhales with LOTS of noise, and honestly – the louder the better! You’ll laugh even harder at yourself. Awesome! This will break the pattern and create more ease, more relaxation and less tension. Obviously, it’s probably best to do this one at home, in your car or when you’re alone (unless you’re with someone who knows what you’re doing and why…and then, by all means turn it into a party haha).
  3. MOVE! Move your body and you move your lungs.
  4. Spend time in nature. Science has proven that we breathe easier in forests.
  5. You could certainly try the Wim Hof Method (click < to go to his site and please know we have no affiliation, we just a lot of affection and respect for him and what he’s doing).
  6. Yoga has been proven effective at helping people breathe better.
  7. As much as possible throughout the day, breathe DEEPLY, exhale fully, inhale fully and eventually this will become second nature and you won’t have to “try.”
  8. To assist in all of the above, or if you suspect you have fascial restrictions keeping you from breathing well…try any or all of the below techniques that we talked about in the video.

Try one or more of these fascial release techniques to help you breathe better:

  1. My top pick is releasing the abdominal fascia. You can find that by clicking here.
  2. Next I would try your neck fascia, which will help your lungs and neck expand with your inhales and push the exhales all the way out with effortless ease. That post and video how-to can be found by clicking here.
  3. Great additions to the above would be the lat release, which can help with the rib issue I talked about in the video. Click here for that. The rhomboid release is ALSO found in this blog post, and doing both of these will help with rib mobility and allow the diaphragm and lungs to expand naturally via the side and posterior ribs being more flexible.
  4. The chest release would also be a fantastic addition. Get that here.
  5. And finally, I would recommend the scalene/neck release for just about everyone on this planet, whether or not you have breathing issues. So I’m throwing that in the mix for you, click here and have fun!

Restless Leg Syndrome – Possible Causes and How to Find Relief

Restless leg syndrome affects 3 million people every year in America alone. This condition is still really mysterious to the medical community, with “no known cure.”

Typical experiences of people who have restless leg syndrome are an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, a “twitchy” feeling like something is crawling on or inside your legs and it seems to affect people age 40 and older a lot more than those of younger age.

Stefan surprised me with this topic…the first episode in a new series we’re trying out for Mobility Mastery Monday: Pop Q&A! I have no idea what he’ll ask me before we start filming these episodes, and we just take it from there.

What if restless leg syndrome could go away fast?

Why does it seem so mysterious to modern science and the medical community?

What the heck is restless leg syndrome anyway?

I am NOT a doctor, and this isn’t intended as medical advice, nor is it meant to diagnose or cure anyone. I offer some of my experience and opinions.

What if your legs are simply twitchy and restless?

What if there’s a reason for this?

What if you could get relief today?

Watch the video below to learn more, and then please share and comment!

If you have restless leg syndrome and want to find out if fascial release can help, my top recommendations are releasing your hamstring and calf fascia.

Here’s my hamstring self-help technique using a lacrosse ball and weight plate:

Below is the overall BEST lower leg compartment and calf release technique:

If you can’t get into the position of the above technique, try this calf release instead:

Please share this post if you know anyone struggling with restless leg syndrome, and if you have comments or questions drop them below!

If you enjoyed this new version of Q&A Monday and have a question that you’d like us to feature and me to answer, please send your questions to stefancox@mobilitymastery.com so he can surprise me with them.

See ya next time 🙂

If you liked this post please “like” and share it!

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Kinetix Live: Patterns and Presence

Most of you don’t know me, or if you do, it’s vicariously through Elisha’s stories about her man, Stefan. That’s me 😉

As many of you know Elisha just hosted a live event in Colorado teaching a group of students her work, Kinetix. I helped her put the event together, but I was also a student.

Although I was more familiar with Kinetix than most, having experienced it through Elisha, I never really stepped on anyone until the event. It definitely changed my orientation to the work and my orientation to nervous system patterns. My journey with nervous system patterns has been all over the spectrum, ranging from total naïvete to acute awareness with successes at re-patterning. As it turned out, this Kinetix event was the perfect place to experience that same spectrum across a diverse group of people.

As the event progressed I started noticing a recurring theme that I believe is a fundamental rule of our existence:

Nervous system patterns either dictate or are dictated by everything we do.

Both of these functions of human behavior (dictating and being dictated) are always at play determining our realities. On one end of the spectrum we are completely naïve of the existence of these patterns, and they control our behavior in negative and destructive ways. On the other end of the spectrum we become acutely aware of what our patterns are, why our patterns are, and which patterns actually serve us best. This dichotomy exemplifies the extremes of our relationships to patterns… servant or master.

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“Don’t be a pussy – man up!” The hidden cost of “masculinity” in sports and modern culture

* Please note I am aware that the phrase “Don’t be a pussy” may be offensive to some of you. My intention with this article is to shed light on part of modern culture that is very much alive, and this phrase is still widely used among men to shame other men or boys into being tough. While there may be another article that could go into the female side of this equation, that’s not what this post is about. If you’re sensitive to this phrase, maybe skip this article.

When I first met Stefan (my man), the conversation quickly turned towards sports, movement, healing and my work with fascia (since yes, as cliché as it is he asked what I do, and when I replied with “I step on people to get them out of pain” he was instantly intrigued, as most people are!)

He was really open about his own physical struggles (of which there were a great many), and curious what I could tell him about how to heal.

Probably the greatest bond we have is that we’re both fascinated by the human struggle, by pain and healing, consciousness, evolution, movement and optimizing human performance.

Naturally, I wanted to show off and work on him, but I wasn’t expecting what happened when I did. His body responded unlike anybody else’s I’ve ever worked on.

He wasn’t shy about telling me what wasn’t working for him; and the way I usually work on people wasn’t working for him and his nervous system at all. We had to slow waaaaay down so he could find his breath; he needed to move very slowly; he needed me to add the weight gently otherwise he would panic involuntarily. I felt like I was walking on eggshells! Yet, this was not a man who couldn’t “tough it out” when it comes to pain. Quite the opposite.

He had one of the most inflamed, adhesed IT Bands I’ve ever worked on, with fascial “knots” the size of large grapefruits from knee to hip! Every square inch of this man’s body was full of adhesions: big and small throughout his legs, back, arms, abdomen, neck…everything was rigid and restricted and full of balled up fascia.

He got instantly “high” from the work, and experienced a correlating catharsis; but it didn’t budge any of his pain. Why?

It would take more than a year for us to truly “get” why he couldn’t heal, and – it makes so much sense now.

I’m betting there a LOT of men (and women) who have experienced something similar to Stefan. Maybe you’re one of them. We decided to write this blog post together in the hopes it will shed some light on an epidemic of silenced pain and cultures that shame its expression and make no room for healing.

Stefan grew up in Texas, where sports are a way of life.

He started playing basketball at age 5, and played soccer, football, tennis and basketball competitively through junior high and high school.

Most of his coaches used the drill sergeant method to train these boys, so Stefan learned from a young age to silence his own wisdom when it comes to pain, and simply pushed through while being yelled at; or he would volunteer to take a beating (over running) if punishment was required.

Did you know that in some places in Texas they still use the paddle all the way through high school as a way to “discipline” kids?

I can’t believe I’m even writing this, or that this approach is still being used on kids today! I was never spanked myself, let alone beaten with a paddle at school.

Stefan has shared a great many disturbing sports stories with me, but there is one in particular that can illuminate what this culture is all about, what it taught him and who it told him to become if he was to be accepted and celebrated instead of shamed and punished.

In his own words:

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Deserving Desires: A Nervous System Story, Part II

This post is Part II. For Part I click here.

If I wasn’t so strong, I’d probably be dead.

If I hadn’t become so fiercely independent, perhaps I’d feel at peace; nestled securely in the warmth and sturdiness of – you.

I wish you’d let me help you.”

I want to be here for you, but my efforts just seem to make it worse.”

You always know what’s best for you, so I feel like I have nothing to offer when you’re going through something hard.”

How to identify a nervous system pattern:

Since we met in spring 2016 Stefan has been trying to tell me something about myself that I was willfully blind to. I couldn’t see it. We’re never ready til we’re ready, right? Besides, I felt justified in my ways.

You’re right,” I’d say. “I DO know what’s best for me. What’s wrong with that? I’m really good at knowing how to take care of myself and I don’t understand why this upsets you. Why is this a bad thing?”

‘Justified’ is a pretty unyielding state. On top of that, I secretly (or not so secretly) wanted him to be better at taking care of himself instead of relying so much on me.

No wonder it took a year to crack this one open!

More like 27 actually.

We sat facing each other on the couch a month ago when I told him “I need you to be self-sufficient. I need you to be autonomous. I need to know you’re ok without me.”

Here was that pernicious nervous system pattern of mine in action, the one hiding in plain sight all these years that – once liberated – was about to rock my world when a savvy therapist asked me a few weeks later:

Do you believe you deserve the kind of relationship you truly desire?”

What I couldn’t see and didn’t know about myself was ruling my life and painfully influencing my relationship (and business, but I’ll get to that part later). My recent behavior and feelings were a direct result of my subconscious patterns, and I: their unwitting accomplice.

His reply: “Why are we in a relationship then?”

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Deserving Desires: A Nervous System Story

“Do you believe you deserve the kind of relationship you truly desire?”

This question, along with a viral chest infection that lasted for five weeks (and I rarely get sick for more than 3 days), has drastically altered the course of my personal and professional life.

Did you know that it’s entirely possible to heal something and still carry around the nervous system pattern that created (or was created by) the old wound?

When this happens, the pain will keep hanging around (or come and go, but never leave completely), because the pattern keeps playing on repeat as directed by the brain.

This is true for physical trauma as well as mental and emotional pain.

What is a nervous system pattern?

A nervous system pattern can be a belief or behavior we have about or in relationship to ourselves, other people, the human body as a concept, our body specifically, money, relationships, the world etc.

Do I believe I deserve the kind of relationship I truly desire?

A nervous system pattern can also show up physically, with or without the presence of pain. If we’re experiencing pain then our body is asking us to change that pattern!

Many patterns are supportive, healthy and necessary for our vitality.

Then there are the ones that limit our vitality, and those are the ones I want to talk about.

A nervous system pattern can be how, where and why we process trauma – aka, stress of any kind – and whether we know how to move it out, or allow it to get stored in our body. (Shoulder knots, anyone?!)

If you’ve ever felt like you’re trying your hardest to heal something, you’re “doing everything right” and you’re still in pain, still feeling stuck, still repeating the same old story – then chances are there’s a nervous system pattern that’s running in the background.

This is why it’s possible to, say, get a (necessary) hip replacement and do all the PT, acupuncture and massage and STILL be in as much pain as before – because the brain and nervous system are still running a pattern of perceiving hip pain even if there’s no reason for it anymore.

I’ve personally seen this in my private practice, and – I’ve seen the pain go away when the nervous system patterns were interrupted and changed.

This is also why it’s possible to do a TON of therapy, self development, relationship work etc and heal the emotional or psychological trauma but still keep repeating the same patterns in our lives and relationships.

Do I believe I deserve the kind of relationship I truly desire?

Maybe you sprained your ankle when you were 10. Then, as a teenager and adult, you start rolling that same ankle a lot. The more this happens, the more it happens.

Just think about the “phantom limb” phenomenon for a moment: the amputated limb isn’t there, but the brain (nervous system) still perceives that it is. People with amputated limbs can even feel pain in the limb that’s no longer there! This is a nervous system pattern.

Or maybe, like me, you experienced some kind of psychological and emotional trauma or pain in the past that rears its head in your current relationships (I’m pretty sure we all experience this to varying degrees). The trauma is over, maybe it’s even healed fully, but the nervous system thinks it’s still happening – and you behave accordingly.

Do I believe I deserve the kind of relationship I truly desire?

Hmmmmm….

Simply put, a nervous system pattern could be said to be the physical or psychological manifestation of perpetually re-living a past experience in the present.

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