Monday, August 31, 2020

The Drug-Free Path to Pain Relief: Physical Therapy

Pain is a serious problem in today’s world. An estimated 1 out of every 5 Americans suffers from some degree of chronic pain, and 8 percent of those sufferers find the pain so intense that they can’t pursue their normal activities. It’s little wonder, then, that painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs have grown into such a mammoth industry. Unfortunately, these drugs offer their own share of troubles, from addiction to dangerous effects on internal organs. Many people are now seeking effective pain relief that doesn’t come from a pill bottle. If you’re one of those people, you need to know about the amazing pain-busting potential of physical therapy.

The Problem With Painkillers

A variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications promise to ease pain and inflammation temporarily. Steroids do this by suppressing the immune system for people suffering from painful auto-immune disorders (such as rheumatoid arthritis). That same immune-suppressing power, however, also makes the body more vulnerable to infection. Long-term steroid use has also been associated with cataracts, glaucoma, hypertension, water retention, acne, high blood sugar and osteoporosis. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) block the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body. These drugs aren’t necessarily safe, either. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney damage in some individuals. They have also been associated with elevated heart attack and stroke risks.

Perhaps the most ominous danger comes from opioid drugs. Opioids can deaden more than just pain. These powerful drugs caused over 70,000 fatal overdoses in 2017 alone. Some of these deaths may have been related to recreational drug use, but over 60 percent of the deceased were chronic pain sufferers.

Physical Therapy for All-Natural Pain Management

Physical therapy offers numerous advantages as a safe, effective, all-natural pain management tool. A physical therapist takes each individual’s symptoms (and those symptoms’ underlying causes) into account when devising a physical therapy plan for pain management. Your plan might include modalities such as:

  • Aerobic exercises to get the blood flowing and encourage joint lubrication
  • Resistance training exercises to strengthen muscles, making physical actions less of a strain
  • Cold laser therapy and/or massage therapy to boost circulation, relax tissues and reduce inflammation
  • Electrical nerve stimulation to interrupt pain signals
  • Chiropractic adjustment to help joints move more freely and correct painful musculoskeletal imbalances
  • A soothing combination of heat therapy and cryotherapy

Physical therapy appears to have one more major contribution to make toward freeing pain sufferers from their symptoms. Some physical therapists have adopted “brain-rewiring” techniques such as graded motor imagery to help patients develop a new perception of their pain — one that allows them to master and minimize their responses to it. This form of physical therapy seeks to give individuals more control over their pain so that they can tolerate more exercise, which then reduces the pain even more.

Physical therapy can do more than just help you feel better. By providing you with non-pharmaceutical pain control measures, this form of care can help you steer clear of the side effects of prescription and non-prescription drugs. Better yet, you’re going beyond the temporary numbing of your symptoms by actually treating the underlying causes of those symptoms. Why settle for the illusion of relief when you can have the real thing — and improve your health and functionality in the process?


Monday, August 24, 2020

RECIPE: Greek Stir-Fry + Meal Prep Haven Containers

Greek Stir-Fry
Prep Time: 8-10 min
Serves: 4-5

Fat (g)
Carbs (g)
Protein (g)
• 1 lb. ground beef
• 1 lb. frozen green beans
• 1 large onion
• 2 tbsp. coconut oil
• 1 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes
• 1 tsp. basil
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. oregano
• 1 tsp. garlic powder

Per Serving

• Melt oil in a large skillet and add diced onion.
• Cook three minutes or until starting to become translucent.
• Add ground meat and cook until well browned.
• While cooking, add spices.
• Once meat is browned, add the diced tomatoes (drain off liquid first!), green beans and any additional spices if needed.
• Cover pan and simmer 15+ minutes or until all vegetables have softened.
• Check after ten minutes and add a couple tablespoons of water or chicken broth if needed.
• Serve warm and enjoy!

Meal Prep Haven 1, 2, and 3 compartment containers:

  • DESIGNED FOR MEAL PREP: Easily store food while prepping in advance. Pop your pre-made meals in the freezer for storage and thaw them in the fridge overnight for the next days meal. 
  • EXCELLENT FOR PORTION CONTROL: Each container stores up to 17 oz of food, making it a great tool for keeping your diet in check. 
  • BPA FREE: All our containers are certified BPA free to ensure that youre not exposed to chemicals typically found in containers. 
  • MICROWAVE & DISHWASHER SAFE: These containers can withstand the freezer, fridge, microwave & dishwasher (top rack). Use them again and again so that you can save time & money.
Built for meal preppers, by meal preppers, that's our motto. At Meal Prep Haven, we know that preparation is the key to meeting your fitness goals. With the right tools and mindset we're here to empower all of our customer to stay happy, fit and healthy.

Weight loss isn't easy. In fact, it's damn hard. That's why we built our containers to help our customers plan their meals for the week ahead. Our 1 compartment containers help you stick your diet plan. Simply cook for the week ahead, portion them out evenly across a week's worth of containers and voila! your weekly nutritional needs are set ahead.

Order yours here:
Meal Prep Haven on Amazon

Simple product that arrives quickly and does it's job perfectly. As a college student, meal prep has become crucial to managing my time wisely while still eating well. This product has aided me greatly in that endeavor. The containers survive the microwave no problem, even though they are quite thin and light. The seal is good all the way around the container and have yet to experience any leaks in my backpack when they are full of chicken breast and beans on my walks to class. These are also far more affordable than other leading brands. Highly recommend.

Monday, August 17, 2020

PT Pathologies: Patellofemoral Syndrome

Patellofemoral syndrome is characterized by pain around the patella, or kneecap, particularly when walking up and down stairs, running, or sitting for long periods of time.  This pain can range from a dull ache under and around the kneecap, or the knee may grind or pop when performing activities.

The cause of patellofemoral syndrome is the irritation of the cartilage on the backside of the patella.  There is a grove at the distal end of the femur the patella moves up and down on as the person moves.  A tendon comes off the quadriceps, the main muscle in the thigh, which attaches to the top of the tibia.  The patella floats within that area.  When the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) gets weakened, the IT band will tighten and pull the patella out of the groove, causing friction and discomfort.  Patellofemoral syndrome is most common in young, female athletes due to the rapid rate of growth weakening the VMO.  Xray, MRI, anthrogram and arthroscopy can all be used as diagnosis tools to look at the surrounding cartilage of the knee.

Treatment options for patellofemoral syndrome consist of rest, ice, taping, a knee sleeve, NSAIDS, physical therapy and surgery.  An important part of physical therapy is strengthening the quadriceps and hips, and stretching the ITB, hamstrings and calf muscles.  Great exercises for this pathology include the 4 way hip exercise that includes, straight leg raises, SL hip abductions, SL adductions and hip extensions.  The VMO can be strengthened by external rotation of the hip with straight leg raise. Keeping up with these exercises combined with lower extremity stretches focusing on the ITB for 20 minutes a day can improve symptoms in approximately 6 weeks.  As the exercises get easier, more reps or weight can be added to increase difficulty.

In Summary:

  • Causes damage to the articular cartilage of the patella ranging from softening to complete cartilage destruction resulting in exposure of subchondral bone.
  • Etiology is unknown, however, it is extremely common during adolescence, is more prevelant in females than males and has a direct association with activity level
  • Management includes controlling edema, stretching, strengthening, improving range of motion and activity modification.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Top 5 Kettlebell Preparatory Movements

Warming up muscle groups is an essential element to any workout. A quality warm-up can prevent injuries and helps the body perform at a high level of intensity. Kettlebells offer a great way to warm up the muscles, and don’t require a lot of space to store around the house. Movement preparation is a style of dynamic warm-ups that activate different muscle groups at the same time. These types of exercises will increase circulation and activates the body in preparation for physically demanding activities. Here are five great kettlebell exercises that will ensure you have a great workout every time:

1.  Halo
(demo in link)

Muscle Groups - Shoulders, upper-back

Movement - Holding the kettlebell like a steering wheel, with the hands on both sides of the grip and the weight on-top, rotate the weight around your head. Focus on keeping your chin up, elbows in, and stand tall. Then, slowly rotate the kettlebell counterclockwise around the neck while also rotating the weight so that the wrists do not bend. The forearms should rub across the top of the head during this motion. Halfway through the action, the kettlebell should be in the middle of the back with the weight below the handles and elbows pointed to the sky. Users should feel the sensation of the weight pulling down on their shoulders at this point. Without pausing, continue moving the kettlebell in the same direction until it is back at the starting position. Try five to ten rotations in one direction, and then perform the operation in the opposite direction.

Focus - Keep the kettlebell as close to the neck as possible to enhance shoulder mobility.

Repetitions - 5 to 10 on each side

2. Arm Bar
(demo in link)

Muscle Groups - Shoulders, thoracic spine, abdomen

Movement - Start by lying flat on your back with a light-weight kettlebell in the right hand, and the arm fully extended above the body. Slowly rotate onto your stomach, while keeping the kettlebell in the same position. This motion requires the shoulder to rotate, with the right leg driving the torso into the roll. Next, drive the right knee to the ground, with the leg bent at a 90-degree angle, and the head resting on the left bicep. After the hips are flush with the ground, flex the shoulder blades to maintain the balance, and begin to extend the legs as far as possible, until both knees are locked and the toes are pointed. While in this position, concentrate on breathing and flexing the glutes, while feeling a stretch across the chest and thoracic spine. Allow the shoulder blades to pull in, towards each other, but do not “shrug”. Hold this position for five deep breaths, and slowly reverse the movement to come back to original position. Slowly lower the kettlebell while flat on your back, and safely halo to the other side to repeat the exercise in the opposite direction.

Focus - Maintain the weight’s center of balance while the arm is fully extended

Repetitions - 3 to 5 on each side

3.  Goblet Squat
(demo in link)

Muscle Groups - Quadriceps, abdomen

Movement - Grab the kettlebell by the horns, and hold it close to your chest. Spread your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your toes pointing out at a 45-degree angle for balance, and keep the chin up. Slowly lower the body while keeping the back straight and your eyes forward, until your hamstrings are as close as possible to your calves. Concentrate on extending the buttocks out, and keep the back as straight as possible. At the lowest point, pause for two or three full breaths, and use your elbows to gently push the knees out. Keeping the back straight and the abdomen tight, stand up from this position to return to the original stance.

*note: jumping vertically three times in a row and then looking down is a good way to identify how far apart the feet should be during this exercise

Focus - The feet should stay flat on the floor during this entire exercise

Repetitions - 10 to 20

4.  Cossack Squat - goblet grip
Muscle Groups - Glutes, inner-thighs, quadriceps, hip flexibility

Movement - Holding the kettlebell with a straight spine, stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width, and place your left foot facing out with the toes pointed to the sky. Keeping the left knee straight, slowly squat with the right leg while concentrating on keeping both heels on the floor. Go down as far as possible, and then slowly stand up to the original position before switching sides.

*note: if you struggle to keep the left leg straight, then try widening the stance slightly

Focus - Keep the foot of the squatting leg flat on the ground

Repetitions - 5 to 10 on each leg

5.  Good Mornings - modified
Muscle Groups - Glutes, lower back, hamstrings, hip flexibility

Movement - Hold the kettlebell at waist level, and stand tall with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart. As you inhale, bend at the hips, and push the buttocks back as you descend, until the torso is about 15-degrees above the horizon. Hold the position for one full breath, and return to the original position by concentrating on flexing the glutes while pushing the hips forward.

Focus - Keep the back straight for the duration of the movement. Push the hips back as the upper body moves forward, and bring the hips forward when returning to the original position

Repetitions - 5 to 10

Kettlebell Kings is based in Austin, Texas and creates high quality kettlebells in a number of different styles with Free Shipping and Lifetime Warranty on all including Powder Coat Kettlebells, Competition Kettlebells, Cerakote Kettlebells and Steel Standard. Kettlebell Kings publishes lots of helpful content at as well as free weekly kettlebell workouts anyone can subscribe to here.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Product Review: Rumble Rollers - Gator

GATOR PROVIDES HIGH COMPRESSIONThe first thing to note about the Gator is that its firm surface and small diameter (about 4.5" or 115mm) produce high compressive forces in the muscle. You'll get as much localized compression as with PVC pipe, but with much less pain or soft tissue damage.

You'll also find that the smaller diameter allows you to better work smaller body depressions, such as the arch of your foot or the curve in your neck.

Pressing harder and deeper isn't the only way to massage a muscle. Another way to free stuck tissues is to pull them apart. Of course you can't grab the deeper tissue directly, but you can move higher layers of soft tissue to create a separating (shear) force that displaces underlying layers. This approach is often referred to as cross frictional massage.

Cross frictional massage is normally done by a massage therapist who uses his thumbs or fingertips to apply short, firm strokes across the muscle fibers. RumbleRoller's Gator is the only foam roller that can grip your skin well enough to mimic this type of massage.
INGENIOUS PATENT PENDING TECHNOLOGY. The surface of the Gator contains specially-designed bumps that enable both muscle compression and cross friction.

MULTI-DIRECTIONAL MUSCLE THERAPY. With its unique design, the RumbleRoller Gator helps erode trigger points, restore flexibility, and bring quick relief to common types of muscular pain.

Gator is more beginner-friendly than RumbleRoller's deep-tissue rollers, but don't mistake it for a beginner's roller. The advanced features of this roller benefit even the most experienced athlete.

CUTTING-EDGE CONSTRUCTION. RumbleRoller uses a solid multi-piece core made from very resilient grades of high-density EVA foam. The core and outer shell are both carefully engineered to provide maximum durability and optimal feel. Other manufacturers use hollow cores to reduce costs, but this has a negative effect on a roller's performance and long-term durability. RumbleRoller builds the most effective products that it can, and refuses to cut corners.

My Review:
This roller is great! It’s a little smaller in diameter, but I’ve found that I’m able to get into places of my body (Quads, posterior delts/lats, IT Band) comfortably without the discomfort of sitting too high off the ground. With the bumps on the roller, I’m able to grip my skin and pull my skin perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers, and enables me to focus on the fascia system - which is intricately woven into your muscular system and often gets neglected for various reasons. My mobility is better as well as my recovery. Anyone that lives an active lifestyle must do some research on this type of recovery to extend the life of that activity and perform above their current fitness level. Sure, it’s a little expensive, but I’d rather spend money on things like this as a preventative measure to keep me out of the doctor’s office

The center core is made of firm foam rubber. The roller is not soft... but it's not hard either. It's very firm but flexible enough to roll over bony areas without any discomfort. Works great for fascial release and getting out those stubborn knotty areas in the larger muscle groups.

Testimonial from Rick R.:
          "My Physical Therapist highly recommend me to buy this roller. It definitely does not disappoint. Out of all the foam rollers I've tried, only this one really helped me loosen up my fascia. The well shaped bumps along the roller are firm and perfectly spaced and do a great job deeply pressing into skin and muscle. The material screams quality and I can feel results immediately with fewer rolls than other brands.

I'll admit, I was on the fence on this item because it was quite pricy, but you definitely get what you pay for. Its the best roller I ever bought and is really helping me with my tight legs and lower back."

Testimonial from Lauren J.:          "Surprising effective!! Product provides the perfect amount of pressure and hits the right spots without being too aggressive. I was afraid it might not be aggressive enough, but it works wonders! This item has been very successful in helping me rehab my hip and back after three back to back pregnancies. I had several sciatica and my hips kept rotating back and going out of place. Some of the most pains things I’ve ever experienced. I struggled with even walking. My hips would go out at any time with no warning. I am feeling amazing after a few weeks of use and feel like I can start becoming active again. I have missed being active and fit and this has given me the relief I needed to begin!"