Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Shoulder, the Most Mobile and Troublesome Joint in the Body

Brian Watters, DC, MS, CSCS

The purpose of the shoulder is to be the most mobile joint in the entire human skeleton. With mobility, however, there is inherent instability. We need a very moveable joint for our upper extremities since many everyday tasks require us to move this appendage in a multitude of ranges in front, above, and behind us. With this great benefit comes a risk: instability.

When most physicians talk about instability, they are referring to something that can be very dangerous. Example: In the Lumbar spine, instability can result in nerve damage. Instability is a term used very loosely to mean different things. In the shoulder is means that there is no bony structure surrounding the joint to provide stability, it is purely muscular and ligamentous. Herein lies the problem. Anywhere there is a muscle or ligament, there can be excessive force placed on the joint that becomes damaging or there can be weakness or misuse of muscle that can be damaging to the surrounding joint.

To be moveable in everyday life we need flexibility, and the shoulder is no different. When we think about the life of an active person, especially in terms of lifting in the weight room, we need good flexibility for overhead motion in a slew of overhead movements. We can typically address flexibility in the overhead arena very efficiently based on an overhead squat. If the arms drop forward or the Thoracic spine does not extend we need to work on T-Spine extension and/or shoulder flexibility. It could be chest (pec) tightness, back (lat) tightness, posterior shoulder tightness, or an entire list of things. We can foam roll, stretch, mobilize, use PVC pipe, etc. What happens if there is still an issue in flexibility or even pain during a movement that needs a solid shoulder?

Stability is the answer. But not blind stability. We need to address the deficit in the muscles surrounding the shoulder, such as in the rotator cuff, or look at correcting movement of the scapula by stabilizing the muscles involved in scapulohumeral rhythm. This takes a trained eye to spot and diagnose, but many are very obvious. Most pain syndromes, in fact, are caused by inability of the muscle moving the scapula to work in chorus with one another and needs to be addressed.

We always address shoulder flexibility in a joint, but when that doesn’t correct the issue we need to talk about stability. We already coach it by saying things such as “bend the bar” and “activate your lats”. But when the shoulder still has issues, we need a targeted approach to specific muscles in the scapular and rotator cuff areas.

Train Smart.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

WOD Wednesday #110

3 rounds for time of:

  • 2 legless rope climbs, 15-ft. rope
  • 35 wall-ball shots

♀ 14-lb. ball to 9 ft
♂ 20-lb. ball to 10 ft.

Intended Stimulus . Oh my heart! This is one fun fast workout. Nothing raises the heart rate like hanging from a rope 15 feet high when you're not completely sure if you will be able to hold on. Well actually maybe just one thing: a big set of wall-balls. Let's embrace that today. Commit to keeping moving with that heart beating fast. That is the stimulus we are looking for. We want you to confront that uncomfortable sensation of your body telling you to put that ball down, while you have to regain your calm and keep breathing. Today your strategy does not matter that much, because no matter what, your objective is to pick up that ball in less than 5 seconds. Track your rest and keep it under 5 and you will get the stimulus we want. Athletes modifying the rope climb should find an option that allows them to work in a narrow vertical pull with a thick grip. Athletes modifying the wall-balls should lower the weight first and the number of reps second, priority today is volume*.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Product Review: X-Over Bands Home Gym

Product Details:

  • 11 Anchor Points. Over 100 different exercise combinations!
  • Fits any standard size door, installs in minutes!
  • Covered with Safety Sleeve Technology™
  • No more getting slapped by broken bands
  • Latex Allergy Safe. Never come in direct contact with the rubber.
  • Protects the band from daily abuse
  • Rated to last over 150,000 repetitions in independent lab tests
  • Pro-Grade Carabiners & Plastic Handles
  • Made proudly in the USA
  • 1 Pair of 3 lb X-OVER BANDS
  • 1 Pair of 7 lb X-OVER BANDS
  • 1 Pair of 12lb X-OVER BANDS
  • 1 Pair of 18 lb X-OVER BANDS
  • 1 Pair of 25 lb X-OVER BANDS
  • 2 Band Holding Ring and Clip
  • 1 Ultimate Door Anchor
The X-OVER HOME GYM gives you multiple resistance levels to accommodate several fitness levels. X-Over Bands are versatile and can be used for muscle strengthening or rehabilitation.

The X-Over Resistance Bands are made in the USA with unmatched attention to detail & quality. Every band is covered with Safety Sleeve Technology™ and is rated to last over 150,000 repetitions. X-Overs can be used as a stand-alone workout system either at home, on the field, or in the weight room. X-Over Bands can be used with multiple programs. Made with hard plastic handles.

My Review:
The X-Over Resistance band is a simple well designed product perfect for shoulder strengthening in a progressive manner. I have shoulder problems, including pains and unequal right and left strengths from playing baseball my entire life through college. I have loved having something helps me isolate my shoulders, allowing me to work on strengthening them in a direct and controlled manner. Each package comes with a poster that describes proper positioning and movement for the different pulls.   I found this extremely useful in progressing my shoulder strength. Initially doing some of the movements brought about some pain, but as I learned to better control and activate my shoulder muscles I built up strength and experienced less pain.

This is a very durable and heavy duty set of resistance bands. There's a protective sleeve that covers each band and prevents the band from being damaged and protects you in case the band were to snap. This set is very comparable to the more expensive sets I've used at my Crossfit box, but this set is very reasonably priced. Starting off at only $119 for a set you literally get 2 times as many bands of similar quality as compared to other brands!  My only negative feedback is with so many pieces, it makes it somewhat difficult to get everything back into the bag, but I normally keep the bands out anyway, so not the biggest issue.
This product has held up well with no issues and the handles are comfortable and durable. I would recommend this product to anyone looking to isolate their shoulder muscles and work on activating them or anyone in sports that have repetitive upper body motions such as baseball or swimming to help maintain an even muscle strength of both sides of the body as well as preventing injuries to these areas.  I have a Titan rack that the system straps efficiently to. I can leave it attached because it does not interfere with any of the other functions performed on the rack. Inactivity of the shoulder is the enemy and this system gives me all I need.

My Rating:  9.2/10
What you get is well made, in a package that is easy to set up and use. The instruction plaque is very clear and easy to understand as far as reps and form. If you compare to seeing an Ortho for a referral to a PT to teach you these exercises it is a smoking deal. I have some severe shoulder problems which have responded very well to this system. I use them 3-4 times per week for shoulder warm up, warm down and strengthening. Definitely worth the expense.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ditching the Drugs: Long-Lasting Pain Relief Without Medication

It is no secret that pain is an annoyance that can sometimes hinder your quality of life. However, it can also be your body’s way of sending you a message. Sometimes pain can be a result of an underlying condition that you might not even know about. Medication can be used to provide short-term relief, but if you are suffering from a chronic condition, it won’t change anything in the long-term. If you are looking for a more meaningful solution to your pain, consider physical therapy. It has been proven to provide long-term effects and the results can be felt after just a couple of short sessions.

Chronic vs. acute pain:
The cause of acute pain can sometimes be easily determined, especially if it is the result of an automobile accident, a sport or work injury, or a surgical operation. With acute pain, the discomfort generally fades as the affected part of the body heals. However, chronic pain is a bit different. The cause of chronic pain may be more difficult to determine, and it can linger for months or even years before the reason is diagnosed and relief is found. Chronic pain may be the result of:

Chronic overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, which may affect nerves and muscles.
Degenerative joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis, which produce chronic pain and inflammation.

Extended lack of use, such as a lengthy recovery period after a procedure, that can cause the affected area to feel stiff or “frozen.”

Areas of internal scar tissue buildup that can restrict neighboring muscles and connective tissues.
General muscle weakness, due to poor posture or an unbalanced body, that can cause knots or spasms.

Modern medicine tends to turn to drugs early and often, in an effort to alleviate pain problems. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t always work in the long run. The drugs may mute the pain while they’re in your system, but the underlying problem that’s causing the pain remains untreated. As long as that untreated condition persists, so will your long-term pain – meaning an endless cycle of drugs, pain, and then more drugs. This may force you to use more and more medication as your pain continues to linger, which can become problematic as certain drugs can come with harmful side effects and addictive chemicals.

Seeking natural treatment through physical therapy:
Physical therapy is an effective form of long-term treatment, which is something that drugs simply cannot do in the long run. Once we understand the actual origin point of your pain, we can prescribe a physical therapy regimen aimed at reducing (or, in some cases, completely correction) that functional abnormality. Our physical therapists may start by addressing your immediate discomfort with passive physical therapy techniques. These natural treatment techniques can include any combination of:

  • Hot and cold compresses to reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Deep tissue massage to decrease inflammation of your internal tissues.
  • Ultrasound therapy to enhance blood flow and relax tight muscle fibers through sound waves.
  • Electrical muscle stimulation to stimulate your body’s natural painkillers (endorphins) through tiny amounts of electrical current.

Once you’re responding to passive physical therapy, your physical therapist will introduce you to an active physical therapy plan. They will prescribe exercises that address both localized pain and referred pain problems. For example, gentle stretching exercises can loosen tight, painful muscles and increase mobility in arthritic joints, while core training exercises can correct your balance and relieve chronic strain or neurological symptoms in the body.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), non-pharmaceutical pain treatment is actually preferred over pharmaceutical pain treatment, and in most cases, they even do a better job at controlling pain

Friday, August 16, 2019

Product Review: Again Faster Crumb Bumper Plates

Product Details:
Extremely durable, color-coded and engineered to solve all of the problems generally associated with recycled rubber plates, the Crumb Rubber Bumper Plates are the next evolution of the olympic bumper. These weights are distinctive in every way, and the result of an inside-out approach to improving one of the most commonly used products in the functional fitness world.
    Crumb Bumper Sets - Pre-Order - Ships 2/6
  • 10LB: Grey Flecks - Width: 1.2in
  • 15LB: White Flecks - Width: 1.7in
  • 25LB: Green Flecks - Width: 2.5in
  • 35LB: Yellow Flecks - Width: 2.7in
  • 45LB: Blue Flecks - Width: 3.4in
  • 55LB: Red Flecks - Width: 4in
All bumpers have a standard Olympic Diameter of 17.7in.

Product Review:
Crumb bumpers are constructed using a thick, less dense mix of rubber than many other bumper brands. This rubber mix results in a bumper that is a bit wider than many other brands. This additional width, combined with the forgiving low density of the rubber mix, results in a high-bounce bumper that resists cracking As another key design component, the collar on these Again Faster bumpers is inset from the plane of the plate, allowing for better protection when multiple plates are on the bar, and reducing the risk of inserts getting impacted or popping out. Again Faster bumper plates feature a steel insert that is designed to far outperform the brass bumpers used by the competition. A steel insert will take much more abuse without malforming- and it is machined to exact tolerances to fit all high-quality olympic bars.

These are great plates if you want to have the option of working out on unmatted surfaces. We use them both on stall mats in the garage and on the concrete outside and they show no wear or damage whatsoever. One point to note though is that they are a slightly smaller diameter than standard olympic plates. Not enough that you'd notice a change in bar height, but you can't use with other bumpers or iron plates if the barbell is going to hit the floor - you would effectively channel all the impact through the standard width plates on the bar, which could damage them and the floor (especially if adding iron!).

These are by far the best bumper plates on the market when talking about durability and use in a garage gym, and are extremely reliable in an affiliate setting as proven by their wide use. Again Faster bumpers use a rubber formulation that combines a mix of high bounce with high durability. I demo'd the 15lb and 45lb bumpers only but have experience with the other weights. I'd like to note that the Hi-Temp 10 and 15 pound bumpers are more stable because they are thicker. This makes them more stable than most 10 or 15 pound bumpers- which are the most fragile bumper plates due to their thinness. Also the bounce on these plates are reasonable but not overly exaggerated due to the rubber formulation which helps with protecting the surfaces you are lifting on.
Crumb Bumper Sets - Pre-Order - Ships 2/6

In conclusion, these plates are extremely durable, color-coded and engineered to solve all of the problems generally associated with recycled rubber plates, the Crumb Rubber Bumper Plates are the next evolution of the olympic bumper. These weights are distinctive in every way, and the result of an inside-out approach to improving one of the most commonly used products in the functional fitness world.

Order your Again Faster Crumb Bumper Plates Here:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

WOD Wednesday #109

For time:

Row 2,000 meters
21 cleans
15 thrusters
Row 1,000 meters
15 cleans
12 thrusters
Row 500 meters
9 cleans
9 thrusters

♀ 95 lb. ♂ 135 lb.

INTENDED STIMULUS: ¡Ay maldito!  In CrossFit when we have a descending rep scheme the aim is always to go faster at the end. We want you to be riding that threshold line where you are about to max out, but you never do. Today pick a distance and a weight that allow you to do exactly that. We don't need to pace or strategize that much here. The rep scheme is there to do that for us. We want to start at a sustainable but challenging pace on the first round. A pace we will able to keep on the second and the third if only because of the reduction of reps. This should hurt and sting. This is a longer effort. We want to aim for the 20-25 minute window. If you did 190506, use your notes to adjust your scaling optimally for this workout. Modify the distance in the rower if you don't think you can get those first 2000m done under 9 minutes without dying. Pick a weight that you can manage for the big sets with at most 2 short breaks per movement, on the first round. OPTION 1 For time: Row 2,000 meters 21 cleans 15 thrusters Row 1,000 meters 15 cleans 12 thrusters Row 500 meters 9 cleans 9 thrusters ♀ 80 lb. ♂ 115 lb. OPTION 2 For time: Row 1,500 meters 15 cleans 15 thrusters Row 1,000 meters 12 cleans 12 thrusters Row 500 meters 9 cleans 9 thrusters ♀ 55 lb. ♂ 75 lb.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The 7 Best Ways to Get Yourself Moving

It is easy to turn physical activity into an all-or-nothing” attitude. Our team gets it – you had a long day at work, you drove your kids all around town for their extracurricular activities, and on top of that, you still have to make dinner and prepare to do it all again in the morning. When it’s difficult to find a moment of rest, it can seem even more difficult to find time to exercise. By the time you get home from work, it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to work out, on top of everything else you have to do. Fortunately, there are some simple tips you can easily add into your daily lifestyle that can get you moving without having to take too much extra time out of your day!

1. Get up more often – by tricking yourself.It is recommended that we all get up and move around every 30-60 minutes throughout the day, in order to stretch our bodies and initiate blood flow. But let’s be real – how many of us actually do that? We’re at work, sitting at our desks… and suddenly it’s three hours later and we’re still in the same spot. By tricking yourself into getting up more often, you can get those recommended stretches in throughout the day without even realizing it.

For example, you could keep a smaller water glass or coffee mug at your desk, so you have to get up more often in order to fill it. Or, you could avoid keeping some materials at your desk (such as a hole puncher or stapler) so you have to make a trip to the copy room every time you need to use one. We all try and make our lives more convenient by reducing the amount of time spent doing everyday tasks, but simply getting rid of some of those small “conveniences,” you can actually help yourself be more active. Plus, we all deserve those much-needed breaks throughout the day!
2. Use your lunch break to walk around.Your lunch break is a great time to get in some physical activity. For example, instead of eating in the cafeteria every day, you could walk down the street to order food. If you enjoy bringing your food, you can find a park or other scenic location nearby to eat your lunch. Or, you can eat at your desk and use your entire lunch break to take a walk or go to the gym. Whatever you choose to do, your lunch break is the perfect time to add some exercise into your day.
3. Avoid the easiest routeIt may seem counterintuitive to take the longer, more difficult route, rather than simply taking the quickest route possible – but adding in a little extra time can add some much-needed physical activity into your day! Instead of taking the elevator, parking close to the entrance, or entering through the door closest to you, try adding some more steps into your route. Make a habit out of taking the stairs at work, parking at the back of the grocery store parking lot, or walking to the bathroom on the floor above yours, rather than the one down the hall. These small habits can account for a significant increase in physical activity in the long run!

4. Consider the standing desk.If you work in an office, you spend a large amount of the day in a sedentary position. One of the best ways to get some physical activity is by investing in a standing desk – you get to burn calories simply by standing in place! While it may not seem like much, standing is significantly healthier than sitting.

You burn more calories by standing, and it can be incredibly helpful to your posture. Standing decreases the ability to slouch or hunch over, making it easier to maintain a proper posture throughout the day. It also helps in keeping blood sugar steady after a meal, and it encourages more movement overall. If you don’t like the idea of standing all day long (which, admittedly, can become a bit difficult) you can invest in an adjustable desk that allows you to stand when you want and sit back down when you get tired.
5. Don’t hide the equipment.
By simply keeping your workout equipment in sight around the house, it can help in motivating you to exercise. For example, instead of rolling up your yoga mat and storing it in the hall closet, leave it rolled out in front of the TV. Instead of keeping your hand weights in the garage, put them next to your coffee table. By keeping your equipment in plain sight, it’ll increase the probability of you using them. It’ll also be helpful if you make a habit out of working out around the house while doing your daily activities, such as watching TV, cooking dinner, or sitting at your computer.
6. Get those chores done.Organizational experts believe that you can easily achieve a healthier and cleaner lifestyle simply by doing chores for 20-30 minutes a day – and it’s also a great way to get a small workout in. Taking out the trash, doing dishes, vacuuming, and doing laundry are all chores that require some physical activity. By taking time out of the day to do chores around the house, you’ll be able to get exercise AND do the tidying up that you’ve been putting off. Win/win!
7. Don’t put off your physical therapy sessions.Physical therapy can help address any aches or pains you may be experiencing. Your physical therapist can also create a workout plan for you if you are having trouble getting started. Additionally, most physical therapy sessions are workouts in themselves, meaning that you’ll be getting physical activity by attending your treatments.

If you are looking for more tips on staying active in your everyday life, your physical therapy is a great resource in providing advice for adding more exercise into your daily habits. If chronic pain is an issue, your physical therapist can show you specific moves that streamline the physical challenges.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Product Review: Kratus and Chalk Monster Strongman Sand Bags

Product Details
Kratus StrongmÃ¥n Sandbags™are the most heavy duty 1050D Cordura construction material training bags in the market. Our kit includes 3 of our super heavy duty bags: 100-150-200 lb. ready to take your training to the next level! This kit is perfect for a home gym who wants to add to their collection or a gym that wants try out our product before committing to a big order.

Made from Reinforced 1050D Cordura Nylon with full seam reinforcement in the manufacturing process. The bag consists of two parts: Outer heavy duty cover which is essentially a cover with YKK Zipper and heavy duty Velcro coverage over the zipper and a separate heavy duty inner bag in which the sand needs to be filled. This give you two separate layers to distribute the force of the sand within the bag without mess or fuss.

Kratus loadable sand bags are provided empty and require clean dry sand to fill the inner bags and must be filled to weight using scales and are designed for their specific weights listed and not to be overfilled or filled with other products other than clean dry sand.

Quick filling guide:
  1. Place the inner bag within the outer cover
  2. Open the Velcro tab on the top of the inner bag
  3. Fill with sand to the weight listed (Do not over fill)
  4. Close the Velcro tab on the inner bag
  5. Fold the tab over twice and connect the exposed Velcro to triple seal the inner bag
  6. Zip the outer bag close
  7. Affix the Velcro tab over the zipper

Product Review:
Kratus and Chalk Monster Sandbags are currently available in 3 sizes, with max fill capacities of 100LB, 150LB, 200LB* Each Sandbag has a built-in filler bag with an additional zipper and hook-and-loop closure—ensuring filler material stays fully contained as you work through your regimen.  Because Sandbags can be emptied and then re-filled at another gym, field, park, etc., they function as uniquely portable Strongman training tools for athletes of any experience level.

Sandbags deliver a versatile, go-anywhere alternative to heavy balls and stones. They feature the same 1050D Cordura construction and reinforced, double-stitched seams as some of the other well known brands, in a new compact, customization form. These sandbags are heavy duty and able to withstand drops, but they are not designed to be slammed.

Purchased this sandbag after having issues using a 150lb DBall for while. Issues with the rubber ball are once you start sweating you have to cover it with chalk for continued use. Also shape does not hold.  After switching to the sandbag I have not had issues with either of those things. When sweating you can still have grip on the bag and holds its shape.
At first I used 150 lb bag and only fill it up with 100 lb of sand. I would probably advise against it doing that. Sure it gives u the ability to get stronger and add more weight down the road. But since there is so much "loose skin" per say Is hard to get a good grip on it when its of the ground. Nothing against the bag or material since it built to last if you are using it for the first time.  My suggestion is to purchase the exact bag for the size you want.

Lunges, over-the-shoulders, carries, squats... this will make a challenge out of any movement. I have it filled with about 140# (there is some room to spare in the bag so it allows a little more shifting of the sand when you move it). I have a barbell and a few weights, but sandbags have been a life-saver for me. You can drop them without cracking the concrete or waking the kids, and they are a lot cheaper than plates, barbells, and dumbbells. I have some canvas duffel bags filled with either rubber mulch nuggets or wood fuel pellets with weights going from 40# to 80#, but I wanted something that was specifically designed to hold lots of weight. I am very pleased with how easy this sandbag was to fill and how great a workout implement it is.

Aside from the barbell, this is the best piece of training equipment you can own, especially if you own multiple weight ranges. Squats, deadlifts, carrys, throws, cleans, presses, jerks, lunges, hill runs, the list goes on and on. HEAVY sandbag carries will change you in many ways, imo its the most grueling exercise you can do. Buy at least two different weight capacities. You wont regret it.

Order your Strongman Sand Bags and Chalk Accessories here:

Monday, August 5, 2019

Whats the Deal with Stretching?

Stretching is an important part of physical therapy, and many physical therapists will include specific stretches into their sessions. Strength and endurance are both undeniably important; however, stretching is a crucial part of anyone’s exercise regimen, whether you are an athlete or someone coping with aches and pains. Stretching helps in increasing flexibility, which can alleviate pain and make other aspects of treatment easier – even strength and endurance!
What does stretching do?

Stretching has a lot of benefits that we don’t always think about. Some of these benefits include:

Improving range of motion.
Range of motion consists of how well your joints can move in all directions. This influences every movement you make! If you have a constricting condition, such as arthritis or an injury, your range of motion can be hindered. Whether it’s turning your head to see behind you while driving, or bending your knee freely while running, range of motion is crucial for both daily life and for fitness pursuits. Stretching can help reduce stiffness and increase flexibility, therefore improving your range of motion.

Finding relief in unexpected places. Sometimes we forget how interconnected our bodies are. It is obvious that if we experience back pain, we should stretch out our backs. However, sometimes stretching your legs during physical therapy can provide unexpected relief to your back, as well. In fact, your hamstrings, upper thighs, and hips can all play a big part in creating lower back pain relief. Likewise, improving your posture through stretching your torso can provide the kind of support you need to keep your spine from compressing, which helps you avoid shoulder and neck pain. Essentially, stretching different parts of your body can provide relief to places you may not have considered!

Enhancing performance.
This point is especially true for athletes. The more you condition your muscles, joints, and ligaments, the greater advantage you’ll have in your sport. For example, bodybuilders recover from their reps much quicker when they stretch as a cool-down. Golfers can achieve a longer reach by increasing their range of motion in their hips and shoulders. Swimmers can even out their strokes by perfecting their balance through stretching. If you are an athlete, stretching can play a crucial role in your performance.

Preventing injuries. When muscles are tight or tense, the likelihood of injury increases. This occurs because that particular part of your body isn’t working at its peak performance, even though you might be. When you stretch, you’re loosening up your muscles, in addition to increasing range of motion and improving balance, which all factor into injury prevention. All of these factors can prevent you from making the types of moves that lead to injury, whether it’s coming down too hard on one foot, twisting your back further than you should, or taking a fall due to lack of balance.

Improving circulation. Stretching can reduce stress, but that isn’t the only reason it’s good for your heart and your musculoskeletal system. In fact, stretching plays a key role in almost every aspect of your physical abilities. Tight muscles constrict available oxygen supply, essentially robbing themselves of the nutrients they need. Stretches help reverse the process. When you stretch frequently, you’ll also get the benefit of increased blood flow to your joints and throughout the body.