“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

“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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How to Release Your Calf and Achilles Fascia – Breaks Up Adhesions, Helps Knee Pain, Plantar Fasciitis, Leg Cramps & More

Who wants to release their calves?!

If you live in a human body, I hope you raised your hand. No matter who you are, what you do for work or sports or even if you sit on the couch all day playing video games – I guarantee your calf fascia needs some love!

If you haven’t heard of or already tried “the ONE Stretch”, then definitely check that out too by clicking here. It’s by far the most effective and fastest way to stretch your ENTIRE lower leg compartment all at once, not just your calf or gastrocnemius tissue.

I’m giving you this technique today because I’ve received a ton of emails requesting alternatives to The ONE Stretch, since some of you have had a hard time getting into the right position and/or figuring out how to do it properly. This is a fine alternative, just keep in mind it will take a little more effort over a sustained period of time to get the same results as someone else using The ONE Stretch.

Having said that, this technique is actually BETTER for releasing adhesions in the calf. The ONE Stretch is better at stretching all that tissue and create space, but it’s more difficult to break adhesions up this way.

So today’s technique would actually be better for those of you who have knee pain, recently rolled an ankle or have a history of rolled ankles (which is due to balled up fascia in the lower calf compartment within the Achilles area) or if you just know there are adhesions in there and you want them gone (like me! I always have some good ones going on).

Why release your calf fascia?

Releasing your calf fascia can help with ALL kinds of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Plantar fasciitis (click here for more info on PF)
  • Achilles tendonitis and other Achilles issues
  • Heel pain
  • Ankle issues
  • Knee pain (click here for more info on knee pain)
  • Soleus strains
  • Leg cramps
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Hamstring tightness
  • Tight calf/plantar fascia due to same side gluteus medius not firing
  • and more

How to release your calf fascia using a foam roller:

While I love foam rollers, for the record (in case you’re new around here) I am NOT a fan of using them to ROLL over soft tissue – EVER. The most common areas I see people still rolling are their IT Bands and calves. The reason I’m not a fan of rolling is it essentially tries to elongate tissue in only one (well, two opposing) directions (in a straight line). You’re essentially smashing your connective and muscle tissue towards the bone and then compressing it to that bone while trying to roll it out like pizza dough.

This is incredibly ineffective (it takes a LOT more force to release fascia than rolling will ever provide) and I don’t want you wasting your time!

I want you to get the absolute most out of your self care routine, and that means targeting your fascia directly for release through compression (pinning) and movement (stretching and releasing adhesions).

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s how to release your calf fascia using a foam roller:

Choose your weapon of choice (aka foam roller). You could use a soft one like me in the video, or a much harder one. It doesn’t really matter, just remember that the harder the roller the more intense it will be.

PLEASE DON’T USE A KNOBBY ROLLER FOR THIS!

The goal here is to use the weight of your leg, and if possible some additional compression by lifting up off the ground, to compress your calf fascia to the roller. Then, you’re going to use foot movement to release the fascia.

Your gastrocnemius muscles are responsible for the action of plantar flexion (pointing your toes), so even just pointing and flexing will allow the tissues to expand and contract while compressed, which creates an all around awesome stretch for the entire connective tissue system within your lower leg compartment, and – if done correctly, it can release the adhesions stuck there.

How to get the most out of this technique:

  • Use as much body weight as you can – by lifting up off the ground and/or placing your other foot on the leg you’re releasing
  • Start HIGH just below the knee and work your way down into the Achilles.
  • If this is your FIRST time trying this, go verrrrrry slowly! Your job is to hunt out those fascial adhesions, and fast movement hides them. Slow movement reveals them.
  • Try not to rock your hips or legs side to side. Remember, you’re NOT trying to roll on the roller you’re trying to PIN or compress a piece of fascia and use your foot movement to release it.
  • Speaking of, move your foot in pointing and flexing movements first. Then try circles. S L O W L Y.
  • Spend about 30 seconds on each spot. If you’re doing it correctly that’s ALL you need! If you’re still figuring this out, going a little longer is ok.
  • You might find 4-6 spots moving from high to low.
  • Definitely get into your low calf and Achilles region! You’re likely to find a nice ball of knotted up fascia there and this technique is a great way to break it up.
  • If you get SORE the next day, back off how long you’re on the roller.
  • After you’re done with one leg, get up and WALK AROUND! Notice the difference. Then go after the second leg.
  • Do this as often as you think you need to. This will be different for everyone.

 

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How to Mentally Recover After Injury and Get Back to Your Favorite Activities

Most of us have experienced, or will experience, pain or injury multiple times in our lives. Getting the right help to bring our bodies back into health can feel hard enough, and if we’re lucky enough to reach a point where we’re ready to get back to our favorite sport or activity, it can feel like an impossible mountain to climb.

We ask ourselves questions like:

“What if it happens again?”

“If there’s pain, do I stop or push through?”

“What if I do this thing and get re-inured so badly I can’t even walk?! Maybe I’m just not meant to be a ______ (runner, cyclist, mountaineer, swimmer, CrossFiter).”

I learned to run again after 8 years of believing I never would:

As most of you know, I had knee pain that prevented me from running for 8 years.

Now, I can run anything – short, long, pavement, trail, uphill, down steep mountains…and most of the time I’m completely pain-free.

I say most of the time because I’ve promised to never bullshit you, and the truth is on rare occasions I do have twinges of knee pain. However, it no longer scares me or stops me from doing what I love, and – by experiencing knee pain sometimes, I’ve discovered a few amazing facts about recovery after long standing injuries that will help me help you get back out there too.

I just went running the other day for the first time in a month or so. The first few steps were creaky and stiff, and I noticed a familiar tightening around my left knee – the kind that years ago would have meant sharp stabbing knee pain if I ran even one more minute.

Instead of contracting in fear or cutting my run short, I was able to use a trick I’ve learned well over the past 5 years and nothing came of those creaky joints except more movement, fluidity and I had a pain-free run.

I want to let you in on this trick so you can apply it to your own body and sport. I believe we can do whatever we want, if we can just find a way to support our bodies.

Mind games can work FOR or against us! Our choice.

Let’s say you just recovered from an acute or long standing injury. You’ve been “cleared” to get back out there.

Those first few moments as we return to an activity that either produced a sudden and scary injury, or perhaps gave us pain for years or stopped us from doing something for a long time? They can be terrifying and produce all kinds of mind games.

The overwhelming nervous system response seems to be one of FEAR:

Fear of pain.

Fear of re-injury.

Fear that we’ll set ourselves back another month or year or decade.

Fear that we won’t get this right and we’ll have to give up the activity we love for good.

Your mind might even be re-creating the pain or accident like a movie it’s watching on re-play, in slow-mo. You watch yourself get injuried over and over and over.

If you’ve ever tried to return to an activity after injury then you probably know what I’m talking about.

Your mind might even be clever enough to convince you you’re not afraid, but YOUR BODY KNOWS THE TRUTH.

Our bodies simply manifest what we are telling them with our subconscious or nervous system.

The subconscious doesn’t recognize negatives! Use this to your advantage:

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Athletes – Increase Your Efficiency & Power Potential as a Mover by Up to 10x

What if I told you that you have as your birthright the ability as a mover and athlete to feel weightless, springy, even buoyant? What if I also told you that the same way you access this birthright allows you to need less or no warm-up time before activities, helps you recover faster and rarely get sore? And, what if I told you that this same system, when optimized, could dramatically increase your efficiency and power potential as an athlete (meaning, if you’re a competitive athlete you may just decrease times and increase speed/agility/ability)?

All of the above is absolutely available to you.

Healthy fascia grants us this birthright.

If you want to access all of the above, listen up:

We have 10 times as many proprioceptors in our fascia than we do muscle fiber.

Proprioception is the brain’s ability to detect our physical body in space, and then conduct our movements within that space.

If you’re an athlete it’s critical to know your way around whatever space you perform in right? If you’re a gymnast that means you need to know your way around the balance beam, uneven bars or how to throw yourself across the floor. If you’re a trail runner you need to have keen awareness of your terrain, ideally without that awareness interrupting your ability to run quickly. If you’re an MMA fighter you need to not only be able to control your body in physical space, but be able to predict and control someone else’s too!

All of these things require healthy proprioception.

Have you ever tried to perform a movement only to feel like you have a “dumb” arm or leg? Maybe it’s easier on one side than the other. This has a lot do with proprioception!

Let’s get nerdy for a moment:

Proprioceptors are highly specialized sensory receptors on nerve endings found in muscles, tendons and joints. They’re responsible for communicating information about motion and position between our brain and body to make us aware of our own body position and movement in space. Proprioceptors detect subtle changes in movement, position, tension and force within the body.

I’ll say it again because it’s so crazy important:

We have 10 times as many proprioceptors in our fascia than we do muscle fiber!

I’m not going to get super sciency on you, because this whole process is quite complicated when we start talking nerves, brain, muscle spindles, golgi tendons etc. The important thing is, because of the distribution of proprioceptors in our fascial system, then…

On a very physical/visceral level, our fascial system is an organ of perception!

Fascia is the main system by which we perceive ourselves – body and psyche – in the physical world.

If you have fascia that is dehydrated, brittle and/or stuck to itself in giant adhesions that aren’t allowing muscle fibers to glide quickly and efficiently or nerves to communicate effectively, then your proprioception is going to SUCK.

Think of the fascia like a superhighway for our nerves to travel between the body and brain. If that superhighway crumbles in places or gets squished to only one lane, then those nerves are going to have a much harder time traveling and communicating freely. And our sensory receptors – proprioceptors – won’t be able to communicate efficiently.

Most of us walk around every day not realizing how GOOD we can feel! We enter adulthood and get used to feeling a little creaky, achy, heavy…and since no one told us we could feel any different, that becomes our normal; slowly getting worse and worse as we age.

Well I’m here to tell you that’s NOT how we have to feel!

I do NOT believe we have to age like this. I believe, based on experience, that we can feel light, springy, bouyant and powerful as movers for as long as we want – if we take care of our fascia.

I was certainly one of those people that always felt heavy and achy, like I was carrying around a bunch of led weights…until I stumbled onto this amazing birthright we’ve been granted as human beings.

I accidentally optimized my body for peak performance as an athlete:

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What to Do For ‘Pulled’ Muscles or Strains – and How to Prevent Them!

Have you ever been playing a sport or doing your favorite activity when suddenly a muscle goes into spasm and quite literally “grabs” your attention and steals your movement mojo?

If so then you know what it’s like to experience a muscle strain, or “pulled” muscle.

There is one thing you absolutely MUST do to recover quickly – and one thing you must NOT do.

I’ll get to those in a moment.

First, it’s important to understand WHY strains happen, because – while I am sure some of you are here and currently experiencing a strain or pulled muscle – I am hoping the rest of you will use this information to prevent this from happening in the first place (can we make prevention sexy please?!)

In order to understand why and how a strain happens, we have to understand how muscles work.

Reciprocal inhibition – the key to understanding muscles and injury recovery/prevention!

I’ve had my eye on this process for over 5 years as a guiding touchstone for how to help people in pain and it’s never failed me. I’ll certainly do an entire episode dedicated to just this because the topic seems sorely lacking in the field of pain relief and injury recovery/prevention; but for now we’ll explore it in relationship to strains and pulled muscles.

Reciprocal inhibition is a process by which opposing muscle groups (and the nerves that act on them) work synergistically on a joint: one group flexes that joint while the other extends it.

In order for one muscle or group to contract, the opposing muscle or group MUST relax and stretch.

The simplest example of this is: when you contract your hamstrings your quad has to stretch and relax, right? The opposite is true as well: in order to stretch the quads, the hamstring must contract. (Think of a standing quad stretch).

How this relates to muscle strains:

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How to RUN Without Knee Pain – Try This Experiment If Running Pain-Free is Your Goal

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First of all – I am NOT a running coach and this is NOT meant to be advice for how to be faster or a “better” runner; this is my opinion (based on personal experience with knee pain as well as my work with countless knee pain clients) on how to run without knee pain. That’s it.

If you love running and your goal is simply to enjoy running again without knee pain…this post is for YOU.

Running this way might make you slower (or faster), it might feel awkward or fantastic…I leave it entirely up to you to try this as an experiment – and then run this way or not.

Changing how I run (and taking care of my fascia in general) helped me run again after 8 YEARS of not being able to. Personally, I don’t care how fast I run as long as I’m out there bouncing on a trail again without knee pain!

One more quick disclaimer: this post is NOT meant to address knee pain in general. I’m specifically addressing knee pain that only seems to show up while you are running. If you get knee pain while running and it stops as soon as you stop running, then this post applies to you. If you have knee pain 24/7, there are likely other things going on and this post may not apply to you.

What causes knee pain while running?

While there are certainly many causes and types of knee pain, the vast majority of the time knee pain while running has a basic pattern.

Most of the time knee pain while running shows up on the lateral (out)side of the joint, and feels like a knife stabbing you under the kneecap. That sharp excruciating pain can bring you to the ground as the knee gives out.

A lot of people like to blame the IT Band. Understandable, given the IT Band’s size and the fact that it attaches laterally at the distal (far) end of the kneecap.

However, it has been my experience that the IT Band is 3rd in line as the cause, behind two other major players that contribute far more to both the cause and the reversal of this pattern.

Meaning…addressing these two other things often makes the IT Band issue obsolete. Not always, but very often.

The first major cause is fascial restriction (often in the form of huge knots the size of golf balls) in the lateral upper calf or gastrocnemius muscle.

The second major cause (both of these should be considered together), is the fascial restriction within the hamstrings, particularly the biceps femoris where the long and short head meet and where the long head meets the IT Band.

Often there are GRAPEFRUIT sized lumps of inflamed irritated fascia stuck between the IT Band and the hamstring. Please note that these adhesions are NOT within the IT Band OR hamstring muscles themselves, but rather…it is the fascia that wraps both muscle groups that is stuck BETWEEN these muscles (essentially the ITB and hamstring muscles are adhesed together via giant knots of dehydrated or inflamed fascia and all of that tissue is no longer able to GLIDE through movement).

(DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ROLL YOUR ITB TO SOLVE THIS ISSUE!)

It’s also a distinct possibility that your hamstrings are weak, if you sit at a desk all day and don’t intentionally work on strengthening that posterior chain.

All of this creates a powerful force that pulls the ITB and lateral knee ligaments even more laterally, which can cause the patella to slip off the bursa and create a bone on bone feeling (which I believe is that sharp knife-like pain in the knee).

What does this have to do with running?

Many runners use a short quick gait that emphasizes extensive use of the quads and quad hip flexors as well as the calves to create forward movement. This is especially true of trail runners, even more so distance trail runners. The other common stride I see (mostly in marathoners or road runners who run for time on mostly flat surfaces) is to have a long thrusting forward stride that uses extreme hip flexion followed by knee extension that happens in FRONT of them, causing a hard heel strike that forces the knee joints to stabilize their body through the entire run.

The first scenario I described above is certainly the most common, and if you are a barefoot runner or toe striker and your heel barely or doesn’t even touch the ground while running then you are especially likely to create fascial restrictions in your calves.

What all this does while running is put your hip and knee joints into a near-constant state of flexion, and all that overuse of the already restricted fascia within the upper lateral gastrocs combined with fascially restricted WEAK hamstrings (which probably aren’t tight from overuse but actually under-use, especially if you sit at a desk all day with bent knees and contracted/weak hamstrings and run with your quads and calves) means near constant tension on the lateral fascia of the knee joint, including all the tendons, ligaments and bursa.

The IT Band is supposed to stabilize us through sports like running, but its job becomes increasingly difficult with these fascial restrictions constantly pulling it off track (laterally and posterior), combined (possibly, if your foot strikes in front of you) with a gait that doesn’t allow for hip stabilization and instead relies on the knees for that, and to top it all off…so many people are now foam rolling the bejeezus out of their IT Bands in an attempt to change all of this, but the IT Band actually NEEDS to be extremely tight from hip to knee since it is made up mostly of dense fascia (it’s basically a giant tendon) whose job it is TO STAY TIGHT AND KEEP US STABLE. While the fascial adhesions between the ITB and hamstring DO need releasing (strategically), I’m not a fan WHATSOEVER of rolling out the IT Band from knee to hip.

Take a closer look at the knee joint and surrounding muscles.

Now imagine someone tugging on the lateral upper calf tissue while also tugging at the hamstring and ITB tendons that attach to the knee and patellar tendon (the “balls” or knots of fascia are doing the “tugging”); these two things pull everything laterally and posterior, possibly taking the patella with it, creating a nice set-up for bone on bone action unless released from this pattern.

What reverses all of the above as far as running is concerned is reversing the muscle patterns that lead to these restrictions while running, and changing where our foot strikes the ground.

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TFL Release for Relaxed Hips and Low Back Pain Relief

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I know some of you have waited a long time for this! I had to get creative because I didn’t want to give you something that was already out there, nor anything that’s only minimally effective.

I’m happy to report I was able to come up with something that mimics what I do with my private clients REALLY well.

TOOLS:

You will need some kind of pole, preferably a hollow one, and a tennis ball.

A few words about commonly used tools and techniques for TFL release: I have seen (and tried) all the commonly used ways to target the TFL, including using a foam roller, a lacrosse ball on the floor or against a wall, a baseball on the floor etc.

I was never impressed with ANY of these methods or tools because it was always my experience that a) it was VERY difficult to accurately find the correct spot and stay on it, and b) because of the nature of HOW these techniques must be performed (lying on your side on a mobility tool), I always felt like my body weight was SQUISHING my TFL far too much to allow for a true pin and stretch release. Remember: massaging a muscle, rolling around on it or compressing it to “melt” the soft tissue is NOT what I teach; here on Mobility Mastery I’m always trying to mimic what I do with my private clients, which is a pin, release and stretch of the fascia.

I am so happy I’ve finally figured out how to address this in a way that mimics what I do with my private clients! For those of you who have been using the other methods, I’d LOVE to hear from you if you try my way out. I think you will love it.

Why release your TFL?

In my 8 years of working with fascia for pain relief and mastering mobility, I’ve never seen the fascia within the TFL play the primary role in what I call a “pain pattern.” (Low back pain, knee pain, hip pain etc). Meaning…it is never my go-to ONE area of the body to target, if I were limited to choosing only one area to release. Obviously, in my office with clients I’m never limited to one thing, so I always check the TFL and release it when necessary, and it often does play a role in a lot of pain patterns.

Generally speaking, I’ve found it to be a key peripheral player that definitely needs attention, but usually after taking care of the primary players (which could be the quads and hip flexors, the IT Band fascia, the adductors, etc).

I won’t be going into detail for all the pain patterns that include the TFL (we’d be here all day). I will be talking about it’s role in low back pain, so if that’s you please read that (below) before trying this technique.

If you are NOT in pain and simply want to free your hips and feel even better than ‘normal,’ then what are you waiting for?! Go after it.

If you ARE in pain:

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How to Hike to Prevent Pain and Preserve Energy

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This is a post for my fellow hikers, backpackers and mountaineers.

Best explained in the video, but here is a little bit of additional information:

Body mechanics through any sport are important, and hiking is no exception. Most of us don’t pay attention to our form or body mechanics while hiking because it’s not typically a “sport” where we’re competing or going for time or distance; most of the time we’re just out there to enjoy nature, summit a mountain or successfully complete a backpacking trip.

I started hiking the way I demonstrate in the video 4 years ago because of what I know about fascia, what causes my knee pain and because it just made sense to me anatomically as a way to prevent pain. I didn’t realize until a year or so later that I was doing something already in use with hikers and mountaineers, known as the “rest step.”

The rest step is used predominantly to help high altitude mountaineers maintain their energy and oxygen levels during sustained upward movement.

You can use the rest step for the above purpose, but I promote it mostly to prevent injury and muscle fatigue/soreness, whether you’re at high altitude or not.

When I make a conscious effort to hike this way I have little to no pain. I don’t even get SORE from a big mountain climb! And my energy levels are sustained throughout a trek.

Using the “rest step” for injury prevention:

The why and how:

This is a method of UPHILL HIKING. With each step uphill you allow your back leg to extend FULLY from your hip through your heel, while pausing for a moment, before continuing with the other leg stretching fully next time.

When you allow your back leg to extend fully and your body weight rests on that part of your skeleton for a moment, ALL the muscle fibers and fascia in your back leg – the Achilles, calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus), popliteal fascia (back of your knee) and hamstrings – get an active stretch while the front leg gets to rest.

Doing this in a continuous manner up a hill or mountain is a lot like a dynamic stretch routine (my favorite way to stretch), and though you’re certainly “working” your body, your fascia gets to lengthen while the muscles are allowed to rest.

At the same time, if you STAND TALL and USE YOUR GLUTES to power you uphill instead of your quads, you will be using the largest muscle in your body (the gluteus maximus), which will SAVE your quads and hip flexors from overuse. AND: you’ll sculpt a better booty, and who doesn’t want that?!

The science behind this method:

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Running & Downhill Hiking: it’s NOT the Pounding or Impact That is “BAD” For Joints – it’s THIS

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Are you one of the many people who thinks that the “pounding” during running or the “impact” of downhill hiking is bad for your joints?

I used to think this too! It was drilled into my brain on a very visceral level when I had to hike 7 miles downhill on a “bad” knee and by the time I got to the bottom I had TWO bad knees (click here for that story). I believed the terrain was the problem and I didn’t hike again for 6 YEARS! Now I know better.

With SO many people experiencing pain on the downhill, or pain through impact sports like running, it’s logical to conclude that the sport or the terrain are “bad” for your joints.

I’m here to tell you it is NOT the pounding, impact or downhill that is bad!

I never would have believed this myself had I not experienced first hand being unable to run or hike for 8 and 6 years respectively, only to find out I can hike ridiculously steep 14ers here in Colorado (mountains above 14,000 feet), even run down them, without any pain at all – if I take care of my body before going out there.

The downhill and running are NOT the problem; they simply highlight what is already dysfunctional or unhealthy in our bodies.

If you are someone who normally does NOT have pain unless you try to run or hike downhill, and only during these activities you experience foot or ankle pain, shin splints, knee pain or hip pain, then chances are…

Your fascial system has lost its SPRING!

Our body is made up mostly of fascia, and that fascial system’s make-up is like a giant web that is meant to be elastic and flexible, able to absorb impact for us while helping us ‘spring’ out of sports such as running.

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