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How you can reach overhead pain free!

shoulder

If you’re getting pain In an area of your body like your shoulder or back when you’re reaching your arms above your head, chances are one of a few things is happening so let’s break down how you can reach overhead pain free.

  • You’ve had a previous shoulder or back injury that you’re recovering from or haven’t done anything about it.
  • You are tilting your ribcage upwards – in other words if you run your hands over the front of your stomach, you can feel the bony prominence of your ribcage poking through under your chest.
  • You are pinching your shoulder blades back.
  • You are cheating and creating movement through other areas such as your lower back.

A lot of things can go into the simple task of lifting your arm above your head. Some of us are lucky and never need to think about it, others not so much.

This task may be something you avoid, you might dread reaching for an object in the higher cupboards, hanging the clothes out or engaging in tasks like throwing and swimming to name a few.

Let’s break down the normal mechanics and what’s involved in healthy shoulder movement.

Starting with the bone anatomy we have a few bones that make up the shoulder joint.

  • Humerus – this is the bone of your upper arm
  • Scapular – this is your shoulder blade where there are multiple attachment points
  • Clavicle – this is your collar bone
  • Ribcage – This is where the scapular sits on and glides around (not technically considered part of the shoulder but none the less important for motion).
  • Sternum – the middle part of your chest where your ribcage attaches too.

These bones form together via ligaments which make up joints such as your

  • Glenohumeral joint (between the scapular and humerus)
  • Scapulothoracic joint (scapular and ribcage)
  • Acromioclavicular joint (a bone on your scapular and clavicle)
  • Sternoclavicular joint (sternum and clavicle)

Now we have a basic understand of some of the key bone structures and joints, let’s delve into the muscles.

First let’s split the body into front and back.

The front we call anterior, the back we call posterior.

On the anterior compartment of the body, we have several key muscles:

  • Pec major and minor (chest muscles)
  • Serratus anterior (ribcage)
  • Deltoids (shoulder)
  • Rotator Cuff (subscapularis)
  • Biceps Brachii (humerus)
  • Traps and scalenes

On the posterior compartment of the body, we have more muscles:

  • Latissimus Dorsi (big back muscles)
  • Serratus Posterior
  • Rotator Cuff (supraspinatus, teres minor and infraspinatus
  • Traps (upper and Lower)
  • Rhomboids
  • Triceps Brachii
  • Levator Scapulae

That’s a lot of muscles and areas to consider isn’t it!

Now there are even more muscles and areas to consider but I don’t want to bog this down too much.

What do we do with this information?

First appreciate that the shoulder can move quite a lot, in fact it’s considered the most moveable joint in our body being able to lift up and down, side to side and even big circle motions.

To be able to accomplish all these tasks areas such as the ribcage, shoulder blade and humerus must work in unison moving independent at varying degrees.

What happens when this doesn’t happen? We get a shoulder that doesn’t move well.

Why this happens can be a host of reasons:

  • Injury & Compensation
  • Lifestyle / Work
  • Use it or lose it – lack of movement often means we get stiff
  • Bias from playing sports
  • Ageing

How can fix and restore normal shoulder movement?

This can be a complex question and ultimately does depend on the individual, getting assessed by a quality practitioner will always be my first answer.

What are some great ways to improve your movement?

Restore what is lacking!

If your arm can lift up (external rotation) but you struggle to drop it back down as shown in the image. Then chances are you are quite rounder through your ribcage or you are already in internal rotation.

How can you tell? Go look in a mirror and take 2 photos – 1 side on to a mirror and 1 in front.

What you will see if you have this disposition is that

From the side:

  • You will have ab tension, and around where a bra strap would be will likely be rounded more.

From the front:

  • Your arms will be rotated in or internally. This might mean the tips of your thumbs are facing each other when having your arms relaxed by your side or their facing your body more than they should.

If you can’t lift your arm up (external rotation) but you can drop it down (internal rotation), again adopt the same approach and take some photos.

What you might see will vary this time:

From the side:

  • You may see the ribcage elevated or popped up at the front
  • Shoulder blades will likely be squeezed together

From the front:

  • The tips of the thumbs will be more forward, the sternum will be lifted up
  • Think of a proud chest

Each of these positions are extremely common. Both can get away with lifting their shoulder above head, they will just likely compensate in the process.

Person number 1 with the rounder back caused through excessive ab tension.

This person needs to extend slightly, let their abs relax instead of being contracted all the time. Use your head to look upwards.

Try rotating your palms or thumbs outwards more to give you shoulder external rotation. This person will also benefit from practising breathing in and expanding their ribcage.

Person number 2 with the straight or extended back will likely have more lower back tension.

This person should focus on the exhale – breathing out, as well as aiming to place more weight on their heels (will likely need this walking as well) as this will enable them to move their hips backwards, and re-centre their gravity.

For healthy movement we must be able to move in and out of these positions. Static postures don’t really give us much of an indication, rather the ability to move dynamically.

That is, can you access both internal and external rotation of your shoulder? Can you flex and straighten your spine?

If you are stuck in one of these predispositions then you may struggle to get into the other.

For these people that is the key, restore what is lacking.

Minimise Compensation

Set yourself up in a favourable environment and you’ll reduce the likelihood that you need to cheat with tasks like lifting your arm up over head. Initially you may lay on your back and elevate your legs, this will give you a neutral playground for your body to work.

Eventually you want to progress into more complex movements while keeping the compensations down, then before you know it, you’ll be able to reassess the movement you are after e.g. lifting your arm above your head.

My top three exercises to accomplish better shoulder motion are:

Supine Pullovers
Arm Bars
Landmine Shoulder Press

 

 

 

 

How have you found these exercise tips?

Feel free to reach out for a chat about how we can get you moving right again!

Reach us at moverightep@gmail.com

exercise

5 easy ways you can add exercise into your day

5 easy ways you can add exercise into your day

 

exercise

 

Are you someone who struggles to fit exercise into your day? Well fear no more as we delve into 5 easy ways you can get more exercise into your day!

1)     Schedule exercise into your daily tasks

A simple yet effective tool is to make exercise an appointment just like any other commitment you have in your day. Often, we will say either I’ll work out before work or after work, then life gets in the way and exercise becomes the last thing on our to do list.

Why don’t you change this approach by blocking off a consistent time depending on your lifestyle and sticking to it.

Maybe it’s 30 minutes of you 60-minute lunch break you’ll dedicate to going for a walk or maybe you have regular tasks you normally do such as watching the TV of the night that you can habit stack and use to exercise while you watch TV.

 

2)     Start early

Human beings are routine based animals. We love structure, consistency and making things as easy as possible. So why not start your morning routine off with exercise?

To do this I suggest making your environment supportive of this endeavour by setting up your workout clothes in an easy to see place as soon as you wake up, leave your gym shoes close to the front door, set a reminder on your phone. You get the idea.

Having an environment conducive to allowing you to exercise makes it all that much easier! There are several benefits to starting your day off with exercise as well as you will:

 

–          Release ‘happy’ hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin which are known as mood boosting hormones

–          You will feel accomplished from the get go, which will likely have a carry-on effect to other movements

–          You are fresh in the morning so you’ll likely perform better (person dependent).

–          You’ll get some Vitamin D exposure – something many of us fail to do, even though it is critically important for our body – immune, skeletal and metabolic systems.

 

3)     Find a friend

Accountability is hugeeee in reaching your goals. Having a friend or family member to exercise with you will make it that much easier to actually exercise!

To be successful you simply need someone that wants to make a change in their lives as well. Motivation will come and go, some days you’ll feel completely unmotivated to exercise, enter your friend who will give you that timely kick up the butt to keep you consistent towards your goals.

Not to mention you get to socialise as well making exercise fun rather than a chore!

 

4)     Think outside the box

Generally, people only attribute exercise to a gym session. This doesn’t have to be the case at all!

There are millions of ways to exercise, you just have to think outside the box to find the one suited to you. Maybe you will start regular rock climbing, swimming or hiking.

Maybe you can turn part of your normal household tasks into a form of exercise such as mowing the lawns, vacuuming and carrying groceries.

 

5)     Travel-cise

This is most likely a made-up word but the gist is that on your usual commute to work, the shops, friends / family you can use this as an opportunity to exercise.

Maybe you will walk, run or cycle instead of driving. Low and behold you have exercised!

 

Often, we will overcomplicate our goals. I recommend starting small and building sustainable habits this will lead to long term success rather than trying to do 100 things at once and losing the motivation and stopping altogether.

 

How have you found these exercise tips? Are there any you can implement today?

Feel free to reach out for a chat about how we can get you more active throughout your days!

Reach us at moverightep@gmail.com

Pain: What is it, how does it work and how do we help you overcome it!

Pain: What is it, how does it work and how do we help you overcome it!

pain

Pain is something that can debilitate anyone throughout their life. Today let’s break down some of the key fundamentals of what pain is, how pain works and most importantly what you can do about pain!

First, I want you to picture stubbing your toe on the edge of your lounge.

Ouch! If a past experience came into your head, you may have a memory of jolting back, stopping every task, thought, emotion you had before, becoming completely aware of the sensation you just experienced in your poor toe.

Now the next question is, did you still feel pain from that memory? Maybe not the toe scenario specifically. Maybe you had an injury to your knee from sport or you broke a bone when you were little. Do you still feel some pain, tenderness, ill thought, protectiveness even around the injury?

If you answered yes, you aren’t alone. Many people actually suffer from pain long after an injury has passed.

How can this be though?

Well, there are a few key points I want you to understand straight off the bat.

  1. Pain is an in-built protective device
  2. Tissue damage and pain often do not relate
  3. The longer we have pain, the better our body (nervous system) becomes at producing pain.
  4. Pain is a by product of how much pain your brain ‘thinks’ you are in, not how much you are actually in.

Now each person is unique in how they will perceive, exhibit and think about their pain.

The first step for individuals or practitioners working with individuals is to figure out one’s pain beliefs.

Our belief, thoughts and feelings can be a huge implication for how we recover!

Did this surprise you?

This is now a widely and well documented area which gave birth to the biopsychosocial model. Basically, this is a model that views you in three main components and how they interact with one another.

Biological – such as breaking your arm and experiencing pain

Psychological – that is how you think and feel about your above broken arm, are you worried, anxious, depressed?

Social – that is how your relationships are affected by your injury. Are you unable to participate in group activities / sports like cricket now because you broke your arm – maybe you will feel isolated or have an imbalanced lifestyle.

If these factors aren’t viewed in a holistic manner – a broad approach that views how the injury, disease or pain itself is impacting you on multiple fronts, I hate to say it but the treatment you receive won’t be very effective.

In my experience this is largely an active process on your part. To truly heal from debilitating pain, you must take ownership of yourself, engage with the education being provided with you and implement the techniques, strategies over a period of time so you build resilience, mental fortitude and self-efficacy.

The people who fail to overcome their pain are often stuck in a cycle of seeing another health care provider who treats their symptoms such as a sore knee. These practitioners will often say the cause is one singular issue such as a muscle not working rather than a multi-factoral concoction of reasons that have lead to the appearance of pain.

Instead, a quality practitioner should improve pain in a person by:

  • Treat the person not the symptom
  • Build resilience
  • Encourage continual movement (with modifications if need be)
  • Promote health awareness
  • Improve their movement capabilities
  • Provide pain education about fear avoidance, resilience and self-efficacy
  • Build rapport and trust with the person in front of them.

 

Ok let’s break this up with some fun facts:

  • The entire brain (cells) is replaced every few weeks
  • If no problems whatsoever exist in your body e.g., nerves, immune system, musculoskeletal system, you may still feel pain if your brain thinks you’re in danger
  • Giraffes and Humans have the same number of neck vertebrae (bones)

Still with me?

A few key points keep popping up throughout this blog

  • Pain is protective
  • Tissue damage and pain do not have to match
  • Pain can be heightened by how our brain is feeling in a given environment

Time to break it down!

Pain is protective:

How can this be? It hurts! Well pain is a signal albeit a relatively strong, in your face, look at me signal. It is ultimately here to protect us.

Pain prevents worse things from happening. Try and touch a hot stove, what does your body do? Jolt back from a sharp burst of pain. While this hurts acutely or for a short period of time, it avoids a long term or more serious injury such as 3rd degree burns from happening.

 

Tissue damage and pain do not have to match

This is one for the often-long term or chronic pain people. The average healing time for most tissue to heal is 3 months

Muscle – 2-4 weeks

Tendon – 4-6 weeks

Bone – 6-8 weeks

Ligaments – 12-52 weeks (complete strength)

So why is it that our pain can last years, decades even?

Tissue damage does not necessarily = pain.

Think back to our biopsychosocial model – if you are someone with pain that has lasted over 3 months, you are deemed someone with chronic pain.

Using the above model let’s create an example:

You had a disc bulge injury from picking up an object from the floor. Disc bulges typically heal themselves within 12 months of the injury, pain usually subsides within 3 months by itself. Now say you do still have pain and it’s now been 2 years since your injury, what gives?

Well even though from the biological side of things you are all good, there may be lingering, untreated areas of the psychological and social aspects.

Psychologically you may have told yourself that picking up that object caused your back to hurt so you now avoid picking up objects a certain way, or maybe you still pick them up but you brace yourself like your about to lift up a car.

This person is exhibiting fear avoidance and catastrophizing behaviour. These two terms mean you are thinking worst case scenario, scared that by lifting this object because of your past experience, you will again hurt your back.

Enter the social side, maybe you don’t go bowling with your friends anymore because you don’t want to pick up a bowling ball, or maybe you have limited other social activities because of the fear of hurting your back again. This will now lead to feelings of isolation and being separate.

How does this lead to pain? Well remember the key point that pain can be heightened by your brain?

If you are feeling unsafe, alone and helpless in an environment your brain can become hypersensitive to normal sensations. This can lead to feelings of pain – sharp or dull aches even though there isn’t actually any physical damage there.

This isn’t to say your pain isn’t real. Your mind is powerful, you think it, it’s real!

As I mentioned earlier, to improve upon this you must break out of this vicious cycle of despair and helplessness.

You aren’t alone in your treatment, however you are the one who has to actually engage with the treatment for it too work.

  • Look into gradually exposing yourself into different movement patterns again e.g. learning to pick things up from modified distances until you become comfortable.
  • Continue learning about pain – what it is, how it’s produced.
  • Check out this great Ted Talk that gives a snapshot of pain science – TEDxAdelaide – Lorimer Moseley – Why Things Hurt – YouTube
  • Get moving – start gentle e.g. walking and build your confidence!
  • Appreciate how adaptive we are as humans. Our brains are plastic meaning we can alter – learn and unlearn negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Be patient and kind to yourself – This isn’t easy, it will take time and a lot of hard work. But with the right support network you can become free of pain!

 

 

Each of these things can be done by a quality practitioner, if you feel you need help with overcoming pain, wanting to move more and be free to do the things you love again. Move Right EP can help you.

Reach out today at moverightep@gmail.com

The secret to losing weight

The secret to losing weight, isn’t just about eating less

Losing weight isn’t just about eating less!

Are you someone looking to lose weight?

Chances are you have heard you just have to “Eat Less” OR “You aren’t tracking properly”.

Sounds simple enough. Only this advice can be quite troublesome for people, especially those that have been trying to diet or lose weight for an extended period of time.

Let’s take the time to unpack both of the above quotations.

 

Eat Less

Yes, calories are important, ultimately, we have to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. However, it becomes more complex than just simply eating less.

Over time our metabolism can adapt. This means that our body instinctively becomes more efficient at using less to accomplish the same task.

Take a person that weighs 80kg. This person might have a resting basal metabolic weight (BMR) which is a fancy way of saying maintenance calories of 2000 calories per day.

Now if this person loses 5kg dropping to 75kg, they’re BMR (how much they can eat without gaining or losing weight) will change as well. Now this isn’t an accurate number but let’s say their BMR goes from 2000 calories a day to 1500.

This means that in order for this person to lose weight they must drop roughly 200-300 less than 1500 calories per day.

Now here is where it get’s tricky. People often gain weight back (shocked?) after dieting. They will go back to their pre-diet weight and research suggests they can even exceed their pre-diet weight!

So this 75kg goes back to 80kg for argument sake. They’re metabolism however does not change as rapidly.

This means, that instead of being able to go into a calorie deficit (dropping below their previous 2000 calories) instead they might still be around that 1500 mark. They now have to drop too 1200-1300 in order to lose weight.

This is not sustainable!

A large body of research now states that importance of reverse dieting, having refeeds and even interval dieting.

A lot of coaches out there fail to understand this concept that the metabolism does not fluctuate to the same speed that body weight can change. The result?

A coach that gets frustrated with a client, or a client that get’s down on themselves for not achieving results, or someone who jumps to the next hottest FAD diet.

Ultimately this is not setting you up for a successful weight loss journey. You may lose weight in the short term, this is easy. The hard part is keeping the weight off, creating sustainable habits and longevity.

 

You aren’t tracking properly

This has some research behind it to suggest that people, on average suck at tracking their meals. They might neglect to include some oils or sauces they had with a meal or forget that they had a beverage or grabbed their kids left over dinner. The little things can add up.

This is still a valid point, but not the only reason for someone being unable to lose weight.

 

As we mentioned above, making reductionist statements about the quality that a person is tracking is failing to view them as a person. You reading this will present with a range of different challenges than the next person reading this blog. To simply place everyone in the same category is a sign of poor coaching.

We have even written a blog around common things to look out for in a coach you can check that out HERE.

One of them is being listened to and understood.

 

Ok so by now you’re probably thinking, so what can I do.

 

First you’ll need to ask yourselves a few questions to determine what to do next.

  1. How long have you been dieting?

If you have been dieting for over 3 months or have tried a series of diets in the past couple of years, you need to give yourself a rest.

Take some time to focus on eating good quality foods, creating habits such as having protein at every meal, 4-6 serves of vegetables per day and eating a mixture of colours.

If you have been jumping from diet to diet, chances are your metabolism will need some R&R. The time will be different for everyone but if you’ve been going for a couple of years, it could potentially take a few years of cycling between higher calories and maintenance calories to get you back to a healthy baseline with your BMR.

  1. How is the quality of your sleep and stress levels?

Sleep and stress can have huge implications for losing weight! Hormones such as Leptin (feeling of fullness or satiation) and Ghrelin (hunger hormone) are 2 well known hormones that impact our ability to curb our hunger. There are a number of others but the gist is that sleep and stress both impact these hormones.

Studies indicate that someone with 4 hours of sleep vs someone with 8 hours of sleep could eat the same meal in terms of calories and have 2 completely effects. The former still feeling hungry, the later feeling like they had a good meal.

 

  1. Are you moving enough?

Do you reach the current physical activity guidelines? A lot of Australians don’t unfortunately.

They are :

Complete 150-300 minutes of low-moderate activity e.g. walking each week.

+

Complete 2 resistance training sessions per week.

If you want to read more about this you can check out our blog HERE.

Moving is a contributor to losing weight, we burn energy through movement.

Don’t neglect this factor in your journey to lose weight!

 

These are some common pitfalls people can overlook within their journey to losing weight. However, there are over 100 reasons and interactions that can alter weight loss.

 

Here is an image that gives you a snapshot into those processes.

 

obesity — Articles — James Kuhn | Body Composition & Performance Nutrionist

So, what can we do?

If you are looking at tracking your calories you may:

–         Save your meal in the options menu (MyFitnessPal) so it makes it quick and easy to input next time around – to prevent you from missing a meal or ingredient

–         Track before you eat or straight after – again to prevent those lapses or unconscious moments of eating

If you need to improve your metabolism:

–         Look to having a refeed – this means if you are dieting, have periodic breaks with days you eat more or weeks you eat more

–         Reverse dieting is where you increase your calories 200-300 in excess of your normal maintenance calories and you do this for a period of time before coming back down.

If it’s an area of your lifestyle that you are struggling with you could:

–         Improve your sleep hygiene – aim for 7-8 hours per night

–         Manage your stress by meditating, reading, getting outdoors, doing more of what you love.

 

Find a good quality coach, someone who will take the time to listen to you, understand you and work with you!

At Move Right EP we do just that!

 

Don’t wait, reach out today!

 

Contact us directly at – moverightep@gmail.com

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