Back Pain!

Back pain is a b****!

It affects nearly everyone in the United States at some point or another.

Here are a few statistics to mull over:

  • There are over 650,000 surgeries annually in the US related to back pain alone.

  • Over $20-billion is spent on back pain in the US annually.

  • Back pain is the number one reason people miss work.

  • Economically, this affects the US by as much as $215-billion annually.

  • 85% of people in the US experience substantial back pain at some point in their life.

Back pain can stem from a multitude of factors. These can include the obvious two, holding on to excess weight and having a weak core. The core consists of more than your visible 6-pack, but the portion I am referring to here includes the entire musculature surrounding your mid-back, frontal abdominal region and gluteal muscles. Beyond these, reasons can include stress, which can have an impact on many other areas of your body and life that can all lead back to pain in the back. Try to find an activity that allows your to relax, such as meditation, Tai Chi, Qigong or positive talk.

Injury to the front of your abdominal region can affect internal organs, which can then lead to pain in surrounding areas. This occurs when inflammation or pain occurs, which can lead to poor activation of musculature in the related regions. Specific exercises to help reactivate these muscles, once the injury is healed is necessary. Similarly, if the stomach is not functioning well, it can negatively affect musculature in the surrounding areas. This means that if the diet is poor, this can lead to significant inflammation and digestive issues; the core musculature then can become weak and inactive.

Although this next part may sound slightly unbelievable, if you take into consideration the power of placebo, it makes perfect sense. Negative self-talk, such as saying “pain in my a**” too often can actually lead to issues in itself. Learning to repeat positive self-talk is important to creating healthy body image, happiness in daily life and patience, including on the road! More on this in future posts.

Constant seated positions and poor posture are also major contributors to back pain. When we sit too long, our hip flexors (illiacus and psoas) can become tight. These two muscles attach from the thigh, into the lumbar spine (lower back). If these muscles become stiff, then some movement can begin to pull on the spine, which can cause pain. Stretching properly, along with fascial release (massage) can assist at reducing this cause.

The vertebrae due to spinal loading over the course of long periods can also compact the spacing between each and eventually deteriorate the liquid filled disks that help to function as impact bags to prevent grinding of the bone. When these compact too much and severely deteriorate the disks, osteoarthritis and other issues can arise. Exercises such as ELDOAs can reestablish spacing between the vertebrae, which can reduce this stress. These exercises are performed by the individual, but can be incredibly complex, challenging and harmful if performed incorrectly. Search for a provider near you online!

Of course, we can’t forget the unfortunate accident. Often times people can develop back pain post vehicular accident, fall or awkward movement. Sometimes, the previously mentioned ELDOA exercises can help to relieve pain from these causes. These injuries can also lead to lack of muscular activation, as previously mentioned.

You can fix or reduce your likelihood of back pain by working with a professional, on top of the aesthetic and health benefits! Take action and start feeling better today!

Contact me if you have specific questions!

The Truth About Peaking for Maximal Performance

Here is another dual Breaking Muscle post on best methods to prepare for a specific event and the truth about peaking for Maximal Performance!

Take a look here!

Working with Athletes

I primarily Coach athletes and especially youth athletes. As a result of the majority group that I work with, before and after pictures are few and far between. Rather, the accolades that my athletes collect are our before and after success stories. Although my athletes and I are often confined to a gym setting, with minimal space and the right tools, we don’t need a field and a ball to improve significantly. In my training, I promote the necessity to move well before all else. Moving well consists of being able to control the body through acceleration and deceleration, jumping and landing, agility, balance, and strength and stability in many planes. We then work to build strength so that we can build a base to control and create all movement; as a result, building a base of strength, even with children through body weight exercise, is important. Power is an expression of strength in a rapid manner and therefore a base of strength can become even more vital. Many youth volleyball and basketball coaches often search for the ultimate vertical jump building guide, finding that they either don’t help or work for a short period and progress stalls. With proper strength and power development, athletes can make long term improvements; just as Kaizen states: constant and never ending improvement. Early this week, one of my new female soccer athletes relayed to me that she had played significantly better than she had ever in her weekend tournament, leading her coach to name her team captain for the week. Although this isn’t exactly being named league MVP, it proves in the power of proper athletic development and confidence building that this form of training can provide. To make things even more impressive, I have only had the opportunity to see her one time a week for the last four weeks, including this one.

With proper supervision, planning, development and progression, any athlete with the right drive can be developed into a faster, stronger, more confident and dominant one. Find a great Athletic Performance Coach near you at the National Strength & Conditioning Association’s site. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, contact me at (818) 726-2362!

Never stop improving!

Proper programming and finding a great coach!

John Wooden once said “failing to plan is planning to fail.” This applies in life, sport and in coaching. Programming is a necessary, but often challenging aspect to coaching. For a coach, it is important to create a plan and have a blueprint in order to help themselves, their athletes and their trainees reach their goals in as quickly a manner as possible. If you understand what a coach has to consider to create a good program, it can help you identify a good coach or even help you understand how to program for yourself.

To better understand coaching and programming, we can look at the multitude of aspects that must be taken into consideration. It’s not enough to put together a list of exercises and just perform them. Many factors must be considered, such as:

• Actual age

• Training age

• Goals (there can even be more than one)

• Time to train weekly

• Event or activity training for

• Changes in eating

• Recovery

Beyond the basic specifics that have to be taken into consideration, other factors have to be looked at as well. These include but are not limited to:

Time under tension

• Isometric pauses

• Deloads

• Mobility

• Proper strength ratios between antagonistic muscle groups as well as those between opposing limbs

• Exercise selection

• Training specific muscles to reduce injury, (i.e. semitendinosus hamstring fibers vs biceps femoris and/or semimembranosis)

It’s nearly impossible to learn all of these requirements from one direct source, often requiring multiple books, mentors, classes and life experiences. Programming, just like coaching can require 10,000 hours to master, which is why many great facilities, such as Results Fitness, run by Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove in California, employ staff who’s sole responsibility is programming for their members.

Some of the best sources that have helped me to become better at programming for my athletes and clientele are Charles Poliquin‘s books (specifically the “Poliquin Principles”) and courses, various podcasts, Triphasic Training by Cal Deitz, Louie Simmons’ Conjugate method, and articles on the various differences between different periodization methods, such as block, undulating, linear, conjugate, etc.

Exercise and Workout Programming Resources

There is a never-ending supply of information to learn from, both scientific and in-gym proven based methods. As legendary strength coach Charles Poliquin states, “the human body hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years.” We have training data dating back to the Roman and Ancient Chinese Empire’s that can be utilized efficiently today! In reality, the human body truly hasn’t changed much in the last 100,000 years.

The best place to begin when trying to become proficient at program design is through specific certifications. Many certifications exist that help coaches to begin to understand program design that has been proven to work and are often based on work that has been developed by coaches before them. Some of these include:

• Charles Poliquin’s basic and advanced program design courses

Michael Boyle‘s Certified Functional Strength Coach

Joe Defranco and Diesel’s Certified Physical Preparation Specialist

• CHEK Exercise Coach C.H.E.K. Practitioner Program

These are all amazing certifications, but it is important to make sure not to only take from one modality. There’s something to learn from everyone, so it’s important never to get caught in the belief that you know everything. Further learning can be taken from these individual certifications’ assessments, but others exist in the field that can potentially be useful. These include:

Functional Movement Screen

Dr. Nicholas Romanov’s Pose Method

Paul Chek’s Holistic Lifestyle Coach Certification

And truly in-depth programs such as Postural Restoration Institute’s 3 introductory courses.

When searching for a coach, some of this information can become useful as well. Going in to your assessment or initial intake with your new potential coach, it is important to have your ducks in a row. Make sure you know what you want out of your training experience and be ready to list all of your major injuries and issues; your coach should have some ideas or be able to put an action plan together almost immediately, or not be afraid to admit if they do not know the full answer to a question or problem and at least be willing to research it. If your coach can’t break things down in a way that makes sense to a 5 year old, then they often do not have a clue about what they are explaining. Look up short articles by some of the coaches I have previously mentioned and create a small base of knowledge on a topic that interests you and see if your coach can answer more detailed questions regarding some of these interests.

Finding a great coach can be one of the most challenging things to do, but great certification programs such as those listed previously, often have a database of certified coaches in your area that can potentially be a great fit for you!

Later in the learning experience, I’ve found that great sources of information can be taken from seminars and podcasts. Even one tidbit from each source can make the difference in you improving for the rest of your life. Kaizen stands for “constant and never-ending improvement” and this is one of my core principles. It’s important to always keep learning and improving your craft, even if it is the most minute piece of information, that may help only one particular client achieve better results.

Link to the article:

http://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/learning-programming-and-finding-a-good-coach

Developing Power the Easy Way!

A great alternative to the power clean that can help develop explosive power just as efficiently. If you haven't taken a look at my previous post on why it is important to develop strength before power, please take a look there first! Otherwise, be prepared to see minimal results!

The Importance of Strength Development before power!

Variation on the Power Clean

The True Benefits of Consuming Coconut Oil

Many of you heard the "news" that the FOR PROFIT American Heart Association supports several studies that support that coconut oil increases LDL (bad) cholesterol more than other saturated fats. 

The things that the AHA failed to mention in their stance piece was that there are actually 4 forms of LDL and three of which are immensely less harmful than the final one and that coconut oil increases the lesser molecules. On top of that, coconut oil was also shown to increase HDL (good cholesterol) in these studies. Finally, the coconut oil consumers also lost weight in each study.

All of these factors point to the exact opposite conclusion. One can assume that the AHA may have been paid off by other oil companies. 

It is important to research everything you hear, even from organizations that sound as if they are looking out for your interests. 

Pain

Many people experience physical pain throughout just walking around living. Unfortunately, this is no way to live. Chronic pain creates a cascade of affects that can negatively impact the body in many ways. Chronic pain has been shown to cause depression. Chronic pain can release excessive amounts of cortisol, our stress hormone, into our system. If released in large and chronic amounts, cortisol can cause inflamation, weight gain, sleep problems, cancer, diabetes and the list goes on. 

Pain can often be treated through physical exercise. There are definitely limits and contraindications when attempting to control specific pain causes and that’s where having a good coach or physical therapist can help. Find a great practitioner near your to help you reduce your back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, and more. 

If your pain does not become aggravated through yoga, it is a great practice to help reduce stress and create mobility. Apps such as Headspace can help you learn to meditate, calm your mind and reduce stress. Try anything you can to relax, sleep and feel better!

Web sites such as NASM’s and NSCA’s contain a database of great practitioners near you. 

Take a look at my web page to see how I may be able to help you today!