How to Choose a Foam Roller – Best Picks For Fascia Release

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Hello and Happy New Year!

My wish for each and every one of us this year is that we learn to trust our body, listen to its messages and in doing so become unstoppable.

I love that word – unstoppable – because to me it means that no matter what, we are committed to feeling our best and doing what we love. It does NOT mean being reckless or stupid and pushing our body past its limits only to become sidelined for months. It does not mean we are so superhuman we never have pain.

Being unstoppable means we’re committed to doing what we love, and when pain does rear its head, we know how to figure out what is going on and give our body what it needs as quickly as possible so we can get back out there to our trails, ski slopes, mountaintops or the simple joys of playing with the kids in our lives without worry.

One of your secret weapons against all those aches, pains and injuries is going to be your trusty foam roller.

The question I’ve been asked the most is:

“What kind of foam roller should I buy?”

This episode is for all of you struggling to decide which one is right for you.

If you’ve already figured out the best foam roller for yourself but you know someone else wondering what to buy…share this post and help a friend out.

It’s all right there in the video, but if you want a little more help in deciding…

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Eliminate IT-Band Issues (Including ITBS) With The ULTIMATE Fascia Release for IT-Band

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*This technique was originally featured in a testimonial blog post but I decided it needed its own post.

If you have IT Band issues, you’ll love (ok maybe love/hate!) this technique.

Your IT Band actually needs to be “tight” to a certain degree. For a little more on this and why I’m not a fan of rolling your IT Band like most people do from hip to knee with a straight leg, see this post.

The IT Band is comprised mostly of fascia. In fact it’s more like a giant tendon than a muscle! But it IS a muscle, and because it has so much fascia in it…it is very prone to fascial adhesions (lumps or balls of soft tissue strands all stuck together), sometimes the size of grapefruits!

When these adhesions become too large or tight it can result in inflammation of the IT Band itself, as well as knee pain, hip pain and other issues. In order to create permanent change and release these fascial adhesions for good we need to PIN, stretch and release them through compression and movement that breaks them up. We want to give that ITB fascia the SPACE it needs to function well.

If you suffer from ITBS go get your foam roller right now, try this and see if you don’t feel immediate relief!

If you have a severe case of ITBS or if you’re a runner, you may want to add this to your weekly mobility and injury prevention arsenal. I like to use this before every run because it creates more “spring” and I not only feel like a better runner but a faster one.

Tips for getting the MOST out of this technique:

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The Gift of Pain-Free Running + The ULTIMATE IT-Band Release (Nix ITBS For Good!)

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Are you a runner?

Maybe you know what it’s like…you’re out there on a trail or path, flying like you always do when suddenly your knee gives out and a shot of stabbing pain nearly takes you to the ground. Weird. That’s never happened before. You’re able to finish your run and the pain stops when you do. So you keep stepping out your door to do this thing you love so much. But next time it’s worse. You rest a week and try again; and this time the pain starts right away instead of at mile 4. Some people complain about the pain of running, but not you…you thrive on it! The pain that will stop you from running is the pain you fear the most.

This post is dedicated to all you runners out there!

I know what it is like to be stopped from running due to pain (knee pain specifically). In fact, my knee pain stopped me from running for 8 YEARS. It wasn’t until I found the right kind of fascial release (and knowing what to target), that I was able to fix my knee pain. Now I can trail run and climb mountains pain-free (I even run DOWN mountains with zero pain!) My pain seemed to originate more in my calf, but I think the IT Band played a part as well, as it does for a lot of runners.

I recently got an email testimonial that I have to share. Her story is incredible and I think it will help some of you who are struggling with ITBS, or Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

I’m also going to share my “Ultimate IT Band Release” technique. If you want to skip straight to the technique video and tips, scroll down.

Rachael’s Story

Hi there,

My name is Rachael, and I absolutely HAVE to share my little story with you, mainly because, it involves you.

I started running last year in April. I found a running group (Moms Run This Town) and that was all she wrote- I was off like a mad woman running my life away. For the first time, I found something I was good at. I started doing races and loved running even more. By September, I had already run 6 half marathons, and close to 700 miles, and had signed up to do my first full marathon at Big Sur the following April. I was really out of control. In October I ran The Rock N Roll half in San Jose, and a week later made a last minute decision to take someones bib for the Nike half; this turned out to be the worst decision I could have made as a still new runner. 3 days after Nike, I could barely walk. My knee pain was so bad, and stand-to- sit was killing me. My running was totally sidelined.

After I tried to run with a friend in November the pain was too much, and she recognized the symptoms from her own issue- ITBS. I was in denial, but saw a sports chiro to see if he could help. Of course he confirmed the ITBS diagnoses and had me coming to see him for ART therapy three times a week at $90 a pop. I did this for 5-6 weeks knowing my marathon training was starting in January. Eventually he ok’d me to run, but the pain came back. Next I went to see an orthopedic surgeon, and again I was told the IT band was super tight. He sent me to physical therapy, and again I spent hundreds of dollars. Meanwhile my training had started and I had to really modify my plan- by God, I was not going to miss my race! Week after week I went to PT and got no relief. Next we did cortisone treatments, they didn’t even help a little. I stretched, I rolled, I used a tens-unit, I iced, I did squats and lunges for my weak glutes and hips, I changed shoes, I got inserts, I read hundreds of articles on the internet….You name it I did it. Nothing helped, but I kept training anyways.

I ran my marathon, and I will never forget that experience. Both knees blew out at mile 22 and I had to walk the last 4 miles. However, Big Sur is the most beautiful race and I am glad I did it. When I got home, my ortho suggested PRP treatments and I figured, hell, why not. We did two of those. I took 4 months off and just barely started running again in late August. Much to my disappointment, the pain and the swelling in the IT band came back. I decided to give up on running, clearly nothing could heal this injury.

Then about 6-7 weeks ago, my friend from the running group posted one of your videos, not the IT band one, but what ever it was I watched it, which displayed links to your other videos in the corner. Then I saw it- the IT band foam rolling video by you. I figured I’d check it out and try it. I was well aware of the two HUGE knots in along the IT band, so when I saw your method it made sense, so I gave it a go. OMG- I writhed in pain, it hurt so bad, more than ART hurt- and that was painful. I tried your way again later that night, and then every day for the rest of the week. The knots became more movable- like I was able to massage them with my thumbs and get them to move around. I decided to go for a run, a simple 5k in the neighborhood it was pain free.. Hmm, weird. So I kept up your method after runs, once in the morning and once at night. I ran some more, no swelling, no pain- NOTHING. This week I really pushed my limits, I did some trail runs, on major hills in this area, I was expecting the worst the next morning on both days- but nothing happened.

Is it a coincidence? Did it heal on it’s own? How could something so simple fix this? How could your video change everything? Doctors and PT’s and chiropractors couldn’t fix it, how could this simple rolling technique do it? I am still in disbelief, I keep waiting for the pain to return, but I also keep rolling. The knots are still there, they are still big, but somehow it’s different.

So the point of all of this? From me to you- THANK YOU. For something so simple, for some video free on the internet that has given me the gift of running again! I am pain free and increasing my miles.. I am at a loss for words other than thank you. What ever you have here- you should sell it because quite frankly it works.

You will forever be my hero! Thank you so much for this gift!!

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Relieve lateral knee pain, restless leg syndrome, plantar fasciitis, hamstring cramps and more!

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Do you have lateral knee pain, restless leg syndrome, plantar fasciitis, low back pain or get hamstring cramps after sitting too long?

This post is for YOU!

What do all of these things have in common? The HAMSTRING fascia.

When our hamstring fascia gets too restricted laterally (that biceps femoris fascia can often get stuck to the IT Band fascia), it can pull on the patella (kneecap), causing lateral knee pain.

If you have lateral knee pain, my recommendation is to use this technique in conjunction with my calf release for knee pain. You’ll want to find the lateral tightness more-so than the belly of the hamstrings. Note in the video where I place the ball. You’ll want to copy that!

If your entire hamstrings are really tight, this can pull on all the calf tissue causing “restless leg syndrome” (which I believe is just that fascia feeling cramped and getting tugged on).

If you have restless leg syndrome, this is my #1 go-to technique for you:

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Quad and Hip Flexor Release – This ONE Technique Relieves Piriformis, Glute and Tailbone Pain, Pulled Hamstrings and Groin Pain

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Possible SIDE EFFECTS of using the above technique:

  1. Feeling more FREEDOM and space in your legs
  2. More efficient/better running, cycling, hiking, dancing, Oly lifting (etc)
  3. Reduced low back pain
  4. Freed up hamstrings
  5. Relief from piriformis /glute pain and inhibited glutes
  6. Relief from pulled or tight hip flexor muscles
  7. Relief from groin pain
  8. Relief from hip pain
  9. Less knee pain
  10. A freed up and more balanced PELVIS (which can lead to less mid back and neck pain and a more even walking or running gait, not to mention better DANCE MOVES! And who doesn’t want that!?)
  11. and MORE!

To get the MOST out of this technique PLEASE READ THE FULL POST (better results if you do!)

If there was ONE area of the body I would have everyone dedicate time to, regardless of issue and even if you don’t have ANY pain, it would be the quads.

You can probably guess why…

We are a HUGELY quad dominant society (in western culture). We sit at desks all day starting in 1st grade all the way through college and most jobs in America are desk jobs. All this sitting sets us up to have tight fascia in our quads no matter how active or inactive we are.

On top of that, most of our sports are quad dominant: soccer, football, gymnastics (that was me), cycling, dancing, running (unless you know how to run using your hamstrings and glutes, and if you do – congratulations!)

One of the MOST powerful tools in the fascia release arsenal: Knowing How to Release the Quads

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How to Relieve Pain Between the Shoulder Blades – Lat and Rhomboid Release

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Most people I know experience this at least once in their life (if not repeatedly): pain between the shoulder blades. It can feel like a ball is stuck there, or it can feel like a sharp knife, or maybe it only hurts through certain ranges of motion or when you’re sleeping. Whatever the case may be, it’s NO FUN right? But it IS reversible!

Keep in mind, what I’m about to give you isn’t a full solution, but it should still provide some good relief (and some of you may get full relief).

Quick question: How’s your posture?!

Are your shoulders forward rotated? Are you hunched over at a desk all day or are you constantly bent over looking at your phone? Tsk tsk! (Hey I’m guilty of the phone thing too, but do my best to avoid it because it wreaks HAVOC on the cervical spine!)

The good news is, all of these things are avoidable through posture correction, by moving your computer to eye level (or better yet get a standing desk!) and holding your phone at eye level (hey, you might look like an old lady/man but you’ll avoid putting a 60 POUND pressure on your cervical spine!)

The more you can do to AVOID these bad posture habits, the better off you’ll be long-term.

Ok, moving on to what you can do right now to get some relief.

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Learn the ONE Stretch That Relieves Plantar Fasciitis, Shin Splints, Achilles Pain, Heel Pain and Compartment Syndrome

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If you have tight calves (and if you’re active you probably have tight calves) then your body will thank you for doing this stretch.

First let me say that while this is a SUPER powerful stretch, it’s not a FULL solution for any of the following. With that said, it’s the best possible one-off solution I can give you right now, and if you do this daily for a week I would be shocked if you don’t feel significantly better for any or all of these:

This ONE technique can address ALL kinds of issues:

  • Plantar fasciitis, or pain on the bottoms of the feet
  • Shin splints
  • Compartment Syndrome
  • Heel Pain
  • Achilles tendinitis, pain or tightness
  • Scar tissue build-up from past sprained or broken ankles (which can lead to ankle immobility and compensation patterns up your entire chain)
  • Limited range of motion in the ankles
  • Knee Pain
  • Tendonitis on the tops of the feet (usually originating in the shins, so if this is you then focus on pinning your tibialis anterior or shin muscle more than calf)
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Knee Pain – The #1 Cause (It’s NOT What You Think) + How to Foam Roll for Knee Pain

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Knee pain.

I know first hand how excruciating knee pain can be, and it stopped me from being able to run or hike for 8 and 6 years respectively. Little did I know there was one major cause that never would have occurred to me, and there was a simple solution!

What prompted this post was several of you that I know and love who are far away, have terrible knee pain and can’t come and see me for 1-1 work. You guys have been telling me how horrible it is and asking me “what can I do?!”

I couldn’t sit back and not give you something to try on your own!

The IT Band is notoriously blamed for knee pain, but I have not found it to be a major cause. It certainly can contribute, as can other factors like tight hips or a history of sprained ankles. But 70-80% of the time it is something quite surprising (that quickly becomes obvious).

Find out what the main cause is in the first video, and then I’ll teach you how to foam roll to target this one specific spot.

Keep in mind that this is addressing the #1 cause, but not ALL causes. Foam rolling for pain relief takes longer than coming to see me in my private practice (for many reasons), but it can still be effective. Give it at least a week.

Let me know how this works for you, and if you have questions feel free to comment or write me!

 

Foam Rolling and The IT Band (Hint: It’s NOT the Enemy!)

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“I have an IT Band issue.”

I can’t tell you how many times I hear this from new clients who believe the IT Band is at the root of all their problems, from knee pain to back pain.

Google “foam rolling” and you’ll see more videos for how to roll the IT band than any other muscle in the body. I see people in the gym every day foam rolling the crap out of their IT band the way it’s been traditionally taught and I want to yell: STOP!

The IT Band is NOT your enemy.

The main job of the IT band is to stabilize us from knee to hip (or hip to knee). It needs to have a high degree of tension (tightness) in the direction of knee to hip to do that job.

Notice the picture on the right: the IT band is white, whereas the other major muscles are shown in red. This isn’t a mistake. While all muscles have a lot of fascia holding them together, the IT band is special in that it is mostly made of connective tissue (fascia) and almost looks like a giant tendon or ligament rather than a muscle.

Don’t make the mistake of rolling your IT band out like pizza dough!

Foam rolling as it is traditionally taught targets muscles (not fascia), and the method is typically an attempt to force the muscle to change via manipulation from the outside.

To actually stretch fascia and effect change, we need to pin it in place and then get the tissue to change itself through movement.

Watch the second video (below) to learn how I roll the IT band by

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How to Uncouple Suffering From Pain

 

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Pain and suffering are NOT synonymous! If you’re in pain (physical, mental, emotional), it doesn’t automatically mean you’re doomed to suffer.

What is the difference?

Pain is simply information. If we’re talking about physical pain in the body, it is the sensory information our body is using to get our attention and ask for help. That’s it! Even using the word “pain” is a distraction from the truth, because most of us assume pain is bad. It’s not! We should all celebrate that our bodies talk to us via pain in order to stop us from doing things that could seriously injure or kill us.

Suffering, on the other hand, is the meaning we attach to the sensory information we’re receiving from our body.

The best possible way to separate these two is to fully accept and celebrate that pain is your body talking to you, and then foster an attitude of curiosity about it. What is your body trying to tell you, and ask of you?

Most of the time when we experience pain we go into panic mode and react emotionally with frustration or irritation towards our body (the very thing that is trying to helps us!)

What if we replaced those reactions with genuine curiosity? What might we discover?

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