Is your overhead range of motion or shoulder position trash? Try showing your pec minor some attention. Most folks go right after the t-spine and lats when working with soft tissue restrictions or lack of range of motion. Do these need to be addressed? Probably so, but you would be wise to not neglect a major player in overhead position and stooped posture.
The pec minor lies under the pec major, originates on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th ribs and attaches to the coracoid process of the scapula. It doesn't take up much space but it has a lot of responsibility and can cause major havoc. Th pec minor contributes to shoulder blade protraction, depression, and downward rotation of the scapula. It also tag teams with the serrates anterior to aid in forced inspiration. Whew, I'd be tired too man.
So what does this mean for you? Why is maintenance of the pec minor important.
We have established that the pec minor is closely interwoven with the condition of the scapula, ribs, and tspine and if any of these tissues get tight and short then it's going to be key getting your shoulders into stable positions. Pec minor dysfunction can present a huge problem, especially if you are sitting at a desk, cycling hours a week, or driving miles for work because now your arms have to internally rotate as a way to stabilize your shoulders to remedy your limited range. Taking this into the gym or sport where we spend time under load in these compensated positions your pec minor has to work really hard to keep your shoulder stable causing chronic tightness.
If you were to write a SOP for the elbow, the work flow would be insane. This guy is a workhorse. We rely greatly on this joint, flexing and extending is a big part of our day to day, not to include the demands in sport and in the gym. The thing with elbows is that people believe it to be a "simple" joint, that all it really does is flex and extend. There is a rotation piece that gets over looked.
Most dysfunctions tends to spread elsewhere, usually showing face in the shoulder or even down to the wrist. Now, there are many times when tissue and fascia around the elbow are the culprit, for example: tennis or golfer's elbow. Restoring and/or maintaining range of motion at this joint is crucial.
Banded Elbow Distraction:
1. Hook a band around a rig or pole, create tension by sliding your arm back.
2. Keeping your shoulder in a stable position, flex and extend your elbow
𝐂𝐔𝐏𝐏𝐈𝐍𝐆 THERAPY these are my thoughts about this recovery tool and why/how I incorporate it, as always, don’t let this be the only form of recovery
Some purposed mechanism ideas of what cupping is actually doing to the tissue, there is obviously some metabolic changes happening through suction force, creation of new blood flow to the area aka angiogenesis, evidence by the bruising circles. The cups are suctioned so that they pull on the skin and the blood, drawing it to the surface especially in areas where it doesn't typically reach all that well. Some people believe it helps to alleviate blockages of debris/adhesions in the body, as well as energy that is congested in the body.
For me, the effects of cupping have to do with the nervous systems, and modifying sensory input and perception of pain and how that translates to them performing better. When someone is experiencing pain, there are some inhibitory responses to performance in the body. If I can reduce the Pain to the area, Maybe I can help someone feel better in their sport. For some clients, they swear by it, they preach better range of motion and less tension.
How long do you leave the cups on for? Personally, I usually cut off around 10 min the reason for that, seems like most people will tend to get bruising- it isn’t necessary to have bruising, doesn’t make treatment more effective. Other things can have a role in how bad someone bruises: stagnation and tissue pathologies.
When should I get this done? for recovering and dampening of the nervous system, I would go post workout. This is def in recovery realm and be in addition to all the other boxes you should be checking: food, sleep, yoga, etc
I would have to argue, the most common restrictions we see in weightlifting mobility, and most athletes are limited ankle dorsiflexion — the ability for the knee to track forward over the toe (shoelace to shin). Not only does this effect major lifts like the barbell squat, it can also limit movements like the push press, split jerk, and even jumping exercises. Due to its position in the closed kinetic chain, limitations in ankle dorsiflexion can lead to a host of compensations upstream, including knee valgus, butt wink, and effecting torso angle in lifts.
"Yeah, I hear you Sara. I don't need to work on my ankle mobility, I just wear lifters." Tracking.
While Olympic lifting shoes do allow the ankles to perform less dorsiflexion to reach the bottom of a squat to buffer limitations in ankle mobility, but when thinking longevity, there’s no outrunning the need for full ankle mobility. I will say, investing in a great pair of shoes has a huge benefits in the sport but shouldn't be used as a crutch.
Alright then, how do I grease the ankle grooves then?
To book a session for soft tissue work, please email me NOW!
"I haven't been able to reach above head in years." "I can't put my seatbelt on or take off my bra without pain". "Both of my shoulders are so messed up, I can't even brush my hair without it hurting."
I hear complaints like this all too often. I also hate to say this but I also hear, "I tried bodywork and massage, but it didn't help." If the therapist does not have the specific skill set, odds are pretty good that massage therapy won't help much.
The subscapularis, or subscap, is a very difficult muscle to find and palpate, let's face it- I have never had a client that is just overwhelm with joy when we do subscap work, although they do love the benefits. As one client said to me "It is kind of like a sour patch kid. Sour then sweet but also feels like you shouldn't be in there." But the pain-free range of motion was appreciated after the session.
Real quick, lets break down the anatomy. The subscap is a thick muscle with a broad tendon that covers the anterior portion of the scapula and reinforces the shoulder joint. The muscle functions to stabilize, internally rotate, depress, and adduct the humerus. It's a pretty badass muscle and does a lot for the strength of our shoulder (making up about 50% of the rotator cuff strength) and joint centration. It also counteracts the powerful force of the deltoid. I could go on and on about this guy. Important trigger points to remember are across the shoulder blade, down the arm, and around the wrist (this one is often overlooked).
A lot of therapist think they are on the subscap when they are in fact palpating the fat lat or the teres major. It is an easy mistake and easy to correct, I had to learn for myself. Why is this so common? Many therapist attempt to enter the subscap far too inferiorly, which causes a roadblock by the ribcage and the lat is mistaken for the subscap. Here is my tip:
Pinpoint your location by sliding your fingers laterally to feel the lateral border of the scapula. If you are lateral to the lateral border of the scapula, you are on the lat or teres major, not subscap. This is still fantastic work, but the client could be missing out on a lot of benefits. I always think: "to palpate the subscap, my fingers must be medial to the lateral border of the scapula."
Hope this helps,
We do a lot from our phones, I bet most of you guys are reading this blog from your phone right now. Society requires a great deal of repetitive thumb use, especially from texting, swiping, and scrolling. Pair that with barbell and every other countless thing we demand from our hands, the thumbs can take a beating.
Being attached to our smart phones in this way can amplify certain inflammatory responses such as tendinitis. Your tendons are what attach the bone and muscle, when we have overuse (mhm-mhm, phone in hand activities) the inflammation sets in...welcome, tendonitis. Don't think this will only show up in the thumb itself, everything connected always. These repetitive hand motions can lead to the pain in the wrist and forearms. Small task can become super daunting and forgetting about using hook grip in a barbell piece. Tendonitis causes wrist pain, aching, numbness, and loss of strength. However, this pain can sometimes be confused with the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially when paired with swelling.
If you are having thumb, hand, or forearm pain, what can you do?
1. Put your phone down, or just be mindful of your time you spend scrolling away.
2. Book a session. This work isn't for pleasure, but your thumbs will be forever grateful.
If you really want to check where your mobility and stability deficiencies are, grab a dumbbell, lock it out overhead, and squat. For most folks, this will throw up all kind of red flags. The single arm dumbbell overhead squat (SA DB OH) is a great assesment tool to diagnose where you are as an athlete, which will in the long run help us to become better at moving. Why is this movement such a kick in the ass? In order to achieve proper position at end range of motion you must have optimal:
- Thoracic Spine Mobility, rotation/extension
- Shoulder overhead mobility and stability,flexion and external roation
-Squat mobility and stability, flexion, external and internal roation, and ankle dorsiflexion
The bottom position for most people an EXTREMELY demanding position to get into. The mobility and stability requirements are massive. If we can’t obtain optimal bottom position then we sure as hell aren't going to be stable. I would look into your squat first before we challenge the mechanics even more. Don't be ashamed to strip this down and build it back up, trust me, I was there. Once you free up new ROM, you need to use it in a controlled manner aka add weight slowly without intensity, then put it back into function (performing the actual movement).
Depending on where your challenges are, there are plenty of things you can be doing to help improve this movement:
-bottom up press
-thoracic, shoulder, and hip mobility
-counter balance squats
Getting regular bodywork and massage can help maintain range of motion and flexibility in the pursuit of better movement. In the long run, this will help mitigate injuries and keep you moving pain free. I always suggest once a month for routine maintenance.
Remember, sweat the small stuff. Devil is all in those details.
It has been a long time coming, but gyms are starting to open back up and the glitz of falling back into your gym/fitness routine is in the works. However, before you cannon ball into your routine, or even something new, consider the importance of bodywork and massge therapy when it comes to your recovery. If you want to stay active, avoid injuries and improve your performance, let me give you some reasons why I think massage and bodywork is so critical for the long haul.
Massage and Bodywork therapy has an endless list of benefits, but when looking at performance, three of my top being:
1. Reducing the risk of soft-tissue injury: bodywork and massage can help prevent soft tissue injuries by way of relaxing tense muscles, reducing adhesions and scar tissue, and lengthening fascia.
2. Help maintaining flexibility and range of motion: by increasing temperature of soft tissue through bodywork, this helps increase tissue elasticity, reducing swelling and inflammation around the muscles and joints. With increased range of motion, this in turn helps to prevent injury and increase relaxation.
3. Reducing recovery time after exercise: Addressing your soft tissue after exercise can help ease inflammation, improve blood flow, and reduces muscle tightness. Now, I know it isn't ideal to have a massage after each time you workout, this is why stretching and cool downs are so critical for longevity and injury prevention.
I believe to my bones, that if people focused more on moving well and getting into a self care routine, there would be far less injuries and much more longevity of life and in the sport. You may have to strip your ego a little and re-educate your movement, but trust me, it will pay off.
how fascia impacts you
The understanding of our muscular systems is ever changing, especially that of fascia and its function and characteristics. I want to dive into what fascia is and how this connective tissue that lines your entire body (not just the bottom of your feet) is affecting the way you perform and live.
Fascia is connective tissue that covers you from head to toe. Think of it as an internal mesh that holds you together- it lines every fiber, organ, and bone in your body. It has two major jobs: structure and communication, sounds pretty important, right? It is composed of collagen and elastin that allow not only extreme strength but uber flexibility.
Why and how does something so important cause such big issues? After an injury or surgery, your body sends new collagen to the injury site to help protect, which is great. But it is done so in a very chaotic, unplanned manner and because collagen is tough it can cause deviations and restrictions in soft tissue limiting function of the surrounding muscles and joints.
But Sara, I don’t really have any major injuries and never have had surgery?
I spend a lot of time working with folks with painful fascial adhesions due to crappy biomechanics and movement patterns.
You strain your lat doing pull ups during Murph, sure a week later the pain goes away, but the damage is done at a cellular level. A few months/year later it will show up in the shoulder or QL. This can be more dangerous down the road and lead to unexpected major injuries. Shameless plug: start getting bodywork done yesterday and put it into your weekly self-routine.
How to prevent fascial build up?
1. MOVE- your body was built for movement. Get up out of your chair that is jamming up your hips and back. Get up from the computer screen that is causing chronic neck pain and your shoulders to round. Holding a pigeon pose for 30 minutes isn't going to correct years of stagnation in a chair. Move, AMRAP style.
2. GET OUT OF THE SAGGITAL PLANE- rotate, bend, side to side. Tissue and fascia can also get congested and stressed out in the same line of movement.
3. BODYWORK- muscle maintenance is critical for everyone, that is all. Don't wait until you have a major problem, put it in the routine and make it an investment.
4. HYDRATE- our bodies are more than half water...need I say more.
Start a routine. It isn't rocket science, but it is important. I promise that years down the road you will thank yourself.
Just you watch!
If you are in the Charlotte area, I would love to help you feel better if you are feeling tight or need some work done!
We all know by now, I hope, that the key to performance is recovery. When we recover optimally we can train harder and not feel like dumpster fire. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors out there and a lot of murky information or scams like oils you rub all over your body to help you “recover”. People push all kinds of things to boost their recovery, but a lot are not backed data or research and most you come with a social media influencer’s discount code.
I have always been the “show me the data” kind of person, but in the case of recovery, I think getting back to what we have always been told gets left behind. I am no scientist or expert, but I can tell you what I think is important. If these things are honed in on, your bodies ability to recover better will increase and therefore allow you to train harder...win win. take it or leave it:
If these aren’t fine tuned, your epsom salt baths and CBD oils don’t matter fam.
1. Snooze Hard. Not just getting the quantity of sleep you need, but the quality of sleep you need. Once you find your sweet spot of hours, it is critical to dive into other things for your routine such as temperature control, I like 66-68 degrees. As we know, blue lights can be detrimental, a dark room with no screens is great. I use blackout curtains and a white noise sound machine. Whatever you do: drink tea, meditate, journal, yoga, pray, read, just make sure it is YOUR schedule and your body vibes with it.
2. Diet & Nutrition. Let us make one thing clear, I am NOT a dietician or nutritionist, but I know plenty that can help. But I do know that PROPER nutrition (quality and quantity) is queen when talking about growth and recovery. I won’t go down this rabbit hole, but just know that this is a game changer and there are GREAT sources out there, but also phonies.
3. Programming. Can I get an “AMEN”- Proper programming people. We all have different goals, experience, and bodies, so please have a program that is sensible for you. You are only able to accrue so much volume and intensity before injury comes and slaps you across your jowls. Forget injury, too much training can cause burnout. If you aren’t enjoying what you do...then maybe the program isn’t for you. And we can’t forget about programming deloads/rest days.
4. Parasympathetic TLC. Humans always seem to be idling in a sympathetic state. Don’t get me wrong, this is great walking up to a barbell, but we shouldn’t be cruising in this state all the time. If you are always in this state, it will take more and more to get there during a workout which will lead to diminishing returns. What this looks like for each person is different, so a few examples are: taking a few minutes to walk and stretch after a workout and turn off the Five Finger Death Punch after, breath work throughout the day,getting bodywork/massage,taking a REST day, and a hot bath and a good book
5.Work Capacity. Well, what does this actually mean Sara? This is your body's ability to produce work over different durations, intensities, and using different energy systems. Tap into other energy systems and grow your thresholds over different modalities. GPP. Read and educate yourself in these areas.
Again, these are not novel ideas, I hope it sparked something in your head of what you are currently doing and where you can tweak some things to live a better life, train hard, mitigate injuries, and actually recover. Shift priorities, especially now that we have the time.