Movement Strategies for IT Band Pain

Movement Strategies for IT Band Pain

IT Band pain is a pretty common problem that is usually prescribed some type of foam rolling or stretching.  The problem with that approach is the fact that all the foam rolling and stretching in the world isn’t actually going to give you any long-term relief.

The IT Band is meant to be tough.  That band is so strong, they’ve actually taken them off cadavers and pulled trains with them.  I know crazy right?  Just by hearing that information, you can probably get that stretching and foam rolling aren’t really going to do much for you, besides maybe change the sensory information coming in.

A better approach is to get all the joints above and below your problem area working better.  Why?  Because your IT Band is sending a signal of pain or “tightness” to your brain.  That is a signal to change something.  In our world, we think about why is the nerve sending that signal, where is the signal coming from, and finally where is it going.

What should you do then?

Quite simply, we are going to make the joints the IT Band attaches to work better so it can send better signals.  We are also going to make the joints above and below the IT Band area (that are connected) work better too.

In this approach, we are going to start at the feet and work up.  Your job is to perform each exercise with intention and control while assessing and re-assessing after each exercise.

Why assess and re-assess?  Because we need to see what gives you the best result.  If your pain, tightness or discomfort goes down, then the exercise you did before that should go into a bucket which will be all your “rehab” exercises.  If the exercise doesn’t make a change or makes you worse then here’s your workflow for that:

  1. Watch the video again and make sure you performed the exercise correctly, then try it again.
  2. If it still doesn’t work, then put that in a bucket of drills that you shouldn’t do right now.

From the spine down to the hip, these are the exercises and joints you’ll be working:

  1. Lateral Ankle Tilts – Lateral portion of the ankle joint.
  2. Forward 45 Lunge Knee Circles – Full range of the knee joint.
  3. Rehab Hip Circles – Full range of the hip joint.
  4. Pelvis Tucks/Tilts – The pelvis and sacrum.
  5. Opposite Scapular Camshafts – The shoulder (blade) joint opposite of the IT Band issue.

 

Watch this simple, systematic approach you can take to alleviate your IT Band discomfort.

Cues to remember while doing any joint mobility sequence:

  1. Lengthen up tall, with your eyes forward.
  2. Neutral Spine and Hips as you perform the exercise.
  3. Always breathe in a relaxed, comfortable manner.
  4. Never move into pain.
  5. If painful, slow down and decrease range of motion.
  6. Quality over quantity.  That means, control the movement as best you can.

Need help?  Just reach out!

Ryan

Daily Recharge: Spinal Rolls + Titanics

Daily Recharge: Spinal Rolls + Titanics

In today’s Daily Recharge, we show you two simple, yet VERY powerful mobility exercises that target the SPINE, SHOULDERS and UPPER BACK.  The reason these exercise are so great is because they:

  • Spinal Rolls make your spine mobile and resilient
  • Generally just feel good
  • Titanics target your posture and spine
  • Make you feel like you’re in the movie Titanic

The best thing about them is that they only take a couple minutes to perform.  We highly recommend doing these 3-5 times per day for 2-minutes or whenever you feel like you need a break!

Cues to remember while doing any joint mobility sequence:

  1. Lengthen up tall, with your eyes forward.
  2. Neutral Spine and Hips as you perform the exercise.
  3. Always breathe in a relaxed, comfortable manner.
  4. Never move into pain.
  5. If painful, slow down and decrease range of motion.
  6. Quality over quantity.  That means, control the movement as best you can.

Need help?  Just reach out!

Ryan

5 Essential Exercises For Tight Shoulders

5 Essential Exercises For Tight Shoulders

Tight shoulders can be caused from a number of reasons and if left unaddressed, can create some pretty inconvenient long-term problems.  These problems can include shoulder pain (obviously), neck pain, numbness/tingling down the arms/hands, postural issues, headaches and unable to use your arms the way they were designed.

Some of the most common reasons you may experience tight shoulders are:

  • Poor Breathing Mechanics
  • Poor Posture
  • Eye Strain
  • Inactivity

Today’s training is designed to offer you 5 essential exercises you can do regularly to combat tight shoulders and avoid long-term problems.  After all, the shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body.  If it isn’t working properly, then you’ll be limiting what you are capable of – in life.

It’s important to have a basic understanding of how your shoulders move and ways we can make them work better.  Below you’ll find some basic movements, shoulders should be able to accomplish.

Elevation/ Depression/ Protraction/ Retraction

Your scapula (the chicken cutlet shaped bone) on your back works a number of different ways.  You may know these are you shoulder blades.   In the figure below you’ll notice it elevates, depresses, protracts (moves away from each other), retracts (moves toward each other), upwardly rotates and downwardly rotates.

Flexion/Extension

With flexion and extension, this is your ability to lift your arm up in front and extend your arm in back.  This is evident when you walk.  The swinging of your arms is in flexion and extension.  You can see what your ranges should be capable of in the figure below.

Abduction/Adduction

This is when you lift your arms out to the side (making a “T”) and then bring them back down next to your body.  See the figure below:

Internal/ External Rotation

Internal and external rotation should be able to be done at all shoulder ranges.  Below is an example of internal/ external being performed with the arm in abduction.

As you can see, you have access to A LOT of ranges and combination of ranges in the shoulder.  It’s important to practice all these ranges in order for your joint to work properly to avoid injuries as well as tightness due to inactivity.

Shoulders generally aren’t being isolated in these ranges either.  You will often use combinations of all these motions to accomplish whatever ranges of motion are needed to accomplish the task at hand.  You’ll note that the mobility exercises below reflect that and use multiple ranges within each exercise.

#1 – Forward/Backward Thoracic Glides

This exercise isn’t apart of the actual shoulder, but it does however impact your ability to move it.  Because of the nature of sitting and poor posture, developing a rounded upper spine (Thoracic Spine) will negatively effect the way your scapula and shoulder joint move.  Improving this area first will give you greater access to shoulder range of motion and posture.

Here’s what it looks like:

#2 – Camshafts

Camshafts are great for getting your scapula to move the way it’s designed.  If you remember from above, the scapula is the chicken cutlet shaped bone that sits on your back (shoulder blades).  It allows you to elevated, depress, protract and retract your shoulders.

We get plenty of oohs and aahs after performing this exercise.  The camshaft will take your shoulder blades through their full range of motion:

#3 – Shoulder Unleashes

Enter the shoulder unleash, an efficient exercise that works multiple ranges of motion including:

  • Flexion/Extension
  • All Scapula Ranges

It an be done seated or standing (we always prefer standing) and a great way to start a meeting.

#4 – Wall Shoulder Circles

Are you ready to really open those shoulders?  This is a great exercise to explore the entire range in flexion, extension and overhead.  It’s important not to push into pain.  With that said, challenge your self to work through your entire range without compensating.  Enjoy!

#5 – Shoulder Swimmers

Finally, we have our shoulder swimmers.  You can perform these in a number of positions including standing, seated and lying on your stomach.  The most challenging variation is lying on your stomach.  What I love about this exercise is that it uses two movements we don’t typically work enough:

  • Abduction/ Adduction
  • Internal/ External Rotation

Like the wall shoulder drill above, this will really explore some of the end ranges you currently have.  Keep practicing whenever you can or as needed.

The major point with all of these exercises is consistency.  Adding just a few of these in daily can be game-changing for you.  We always recommend a simple solution for consistency:

3-5 reps, 3-5 times per day

You’ll find that you like certain exercises over others and that’s ok, spend time on the ones that make you feel good or are easier to do, then as you get better you can add-in other, possibly more challenging exercises to your arsenal.

Keep moving,

Ryan

*NOTE – If you are looking for a more extensive list of exercises, checkout our Death of the Desk Membership.  It’s completely free the first 10-days.  Cancel anytime.

 

Daily Recharge: Pelvis Tucks + Lateral Ribcage

Daily Recharge: Pelvis Tucks + Lateral Ribcage

In today’s Daily Recharge, we show you two simple, yet VERY powerful mobility exercises that target the PELVIS and UPPER BACK.  The reason these exercise are so great is because they:

  • Are great for taking care of your spine
  • Reducing pain in the upper back and hips
  • Can help reduce symptoms of sciatica and neck pain
  • Overall just feel great to do

The best thing about them is that they only take a couple minutes to perform.  We highly recommend doing these 3-5 times per day for 2-minutes or whenever you feel like you need a break!

Cues to remember while doing any joint mobility sequence:

  1. Lengthen up tall, with your eyes forward.
  2. Neutral Spine and Hips as you perform the exercise.
  3. Always breathe in a relaxed, comfortable manner.
  4. Never move into pain.
  5. If painful, slow down and decrease range of motion.
  6. Quality over quantity.  That means, control the movement as best you can.

Need help?  Just reach out!

Ryan

Mobility for Sciatic Pain Relief

Mobility for Sciatic Pain Relief

If you’ve been experiencing radiating pain down your leg, numbness or tingling in the same area or loss of strength in the leg then there’s a good chance sciatica is a diagnosis in your future.  As I’ll explain in a minute, doing the correct mobility can be game-changing for your sciatic pain relief.

But first, some basic education so we’re all on the same page.

What is Sciatica

From our good friends at Wikipedia…

Sciatica is a medical condition characterized by pain going down the leg from the lower back.  This pain may go down the back, outside, or front of the leg.  Onset is often sudden following activities like heavy lifting, though gradual onset may also occur.  Typically, symptoms are only on one side of the body.  Certain causes, however, may result in pain on both sides.  Lower back pain is sometimes but not always present.   Weakness or numbness may occur in various parts of the affected leg and foot.

Regardless of how you’ve gotten to this point, your primary concern is getting out of pain.  It’s not fun and I’ve met countless people that feel as though they’ve lost their zest for life due to sciatic pain.

Stop right there though, because you’ve got hope.

How Did You Get Sciatica

Some things to consider are how you got to this point.  By having a better understanding of your history and how you got here, you can avoid traveling down the same path in the future.  So a couple questions to think about and apply:

Q1: Did your sciatica (nerve pain) occur from injury after lifting something?

Q2: Was it a gradual onset?

Q3: Pregnancy or post pregnancy?

Q4: Other injury or event?

By understanding the cause you can begin educating yourself on the healing process.  For example, here are the ways I look at the above answers and critically think through possible healing strategies.

A1: If your sciatic pain happened after an injury like lifting something, then it makes sense to re-educate yourself on the ways of lifting things.

One of the most common faults I see in a controlled environment like the gym is that when people pick things up off the floor, they tend to round their backs or not understand how to properly brace their spines.

Doing this once or twice may not cause an injury but putting harmful forces on the spine over time will cause it to break.

Remember the phrase “the straw that broke the camels back”.  It’s in the same thinking, learning how to avoid unnecessary  wear and tear on the body is key in this situation.

A2 & A4: If you’ve had a gradual onset of pain, then you can consider a similar scenario to the above thinking.  To put it plain and simple, you probably don’t move very well.

There’s an extremely high chance that you have some stiffness in these joints you need to function.  Being sedentary or not practicing good movement patterns throughout your day will add up to pain.

Your body works as one unit, if you have a joint that’s not functioning – like your pelvis for example, then something else has to do it’s job – like your low back.

If your low back is trying to do a job it’s not meant to, then things happen.  Those things tend to be called pain.  Spending time doing daily body maintenance (joint mobility) can work wonders if you are generally a ‘stiff’ person.

A3: We aren’t veering off this idea of movement (or poor movement) when it comes to pregnancy either.  I take my hat off to every woman that bears a child.  You are a stronger person that any man will ever be.  Thank you for all you do.

Unfortunately, during pregnancy, your body has to do a lot of shifting around.  Joints become more lax and nerves can get compressed.  I’m no expert in prenatal coaching however I’d imagine experts can give you sound knowledge on the best ways to move your body to find relief.

However post natal, it’s important to approach your movement as re-educating and rehabilitating.  You’ve spent 9+ months changing your body so your approach to healing should be gradual and consistent.

If one move got you into pain, one move can get you out of pain

-Dr. Eric Cobb, Founder Z-Health

Now that you have a good understanding of how important it is to move well, here are some of our favorite movement drills that can help you alleviate your sciatic nerve pain.  We take a systematic approach to moving joints that may cause entrapment of the nerve.

Ready?

Common Entrapment Location #1 – Plantar Fascia

We talk so much about impingement in the spine, but the nerve can also become entrapped in the foot, ankle and hip as well.  The nerve runs from the L4 (Lumbar) to S3(Sacrum) all the way down the posterior part of the leg through the inside part of the heel to the bottom of the foot.  The Foot wave drill below is designed to create space in the joints of the foot.

 

Foot Waves – Perform 5 slow and controlled foot waves in each direction.

Entrapment Location #2 – Heel

As we work up the nerve, the second area to consider is the heel.  The heel joint is a prime area for the tibial nerve (sciatic nerve extension) to become entrapped as it descends down into the bottom of the foot (plantar extension).  As you can see, the tibial nerve runs right through the inside portion of the heel.  The ankle circle drill below, helps mobilize the heel joint.

 

Ankle Circles – Perform 5 slow circles in each direction

Entrapment Location #3 – Hip

Often times, there is some sort of recurring hamstring injury or a feeling of pain/tightness going on.  This can be associated with some sort of impingement happening within the hip joint.  It’s not always the case, but when you have nerve pain, the cause can be anywhere up or down the nerve.  The hip is just the next logical place to mobilize.  Below you’ll find two great drills to help with this:

Cross Body Hip Circles

Full Rehab Hip Circles

Entrapment Location #4 – Sacrum

Finally we have the pelvis/sacrum area where the root of the nerve comes out.  To understand this better, take a look at the photo below.  You’ll notice the as the nerves come out of the low back and sacrum (L4, L5, S1, S2, S3) they travel down the leg.  There are plenty of places to get entrapped.  These two exercises below do two things.  1)  The pelvis mobility is designed to free-up the space in your sacrum and get it moving better.  2)  The Tibial Nerve glide is designed to “floss” the nerve back and forth to free it up.

Pelvis Mobility and Tibial Nerve Glide

There you have it.  Some of our favorite movement-based drills you can do anytime and anywhere to help relieve your sciatic discomfort.  If you test all these drills and don’t find them to be useful, I highly suggest a few things:

1.  Go back and rewatch the videos, there is a good chance you have missed an important cue or action that is not giving you a good result.  It is important to perform drills exactly how it’s explained.

2.  Slow down, breathe and make sure not to push through pain.  Pain is not something we want to experience when performing these exercises.

3.  It’s possible that you need something very specific, other than these drills.  In this case, I suggest reaching out to schedule a session to make some real progress.

As always, we are here to help.  Please reach out if you need anything.

Keep moving.

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