Vagus Nerve Hack | Sternal Release

Are you experiencing any kind of blood pressure dysregulation, heart palpitations, bradycardia, slow heartbeat tachycardia, or faster heart rate that may be associated with your autonomic nervous system? 

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Sternal Release Exercise Precaution

Before we jump into the anatomy, I want to make sure that if you have any concerns about this particular exercise, please check with your doctor or health practitioner to see if it is appropriate for you.

Vagus Nerve Anatomy

With that said, let’s start with the anatomy of the vagus nerve, recognizing that this aspect of the vagus nerve is how we are going to influence it via the vagus nerve exercise. 

The vagus nerve exits the brainstem and we have branches into the ear, throat, and then the area that we’re focusing on today is the influence of how the vagus nerve innervates the SA node of the heart. It passes through the lung tissue, and the diaphragm although not innervating it, and then it moves into the entire GI tract. We can influence the vagus nerve it through the SA node of the heart, as well as a pressure change. We can target the baroreceptors that are lying within the carotid artery and the aorta. Because of this pressure change, we can influence the vagus nerve response and create the relaxation response.

How to Do Sternal Release + Reminders

Before performing any vagus nerve exercise, you always want to make sure that you are in a safe environment. Again, you should consult with a healthcare provider if this is necessary and appropriate for you. For example, if you’re experiencing extreme blood pressure dysregulation, this may not be suitable for you at this time. However, you do want to ensure that you’re safe, you feel confident in the exercise, and you approach it with gentle curiosity rather than aggression. If you’re starting this particular exercise for the first time, ensure that you begin with just a little bit and gradually increase your duration over time.

To perform this exercise, grab a medium-sized soft ball and lie over the ball, with the ball directly underneath your sternum. Allow yourself to settle in, taking some nice slow diaphragmatic breaths. Then, when you’re ready, take a breath in through your nose, pretend to cough, but don’t actually cough. Do this as if you’re holding your breath. Then exhale slowly, and repeat this exercise for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. However, we recommend starting with a very small volume of it might be very beneficial for you.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, give it a share, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

If you need help more individually, please reach out for a discovery session. We would love the opportunity to help you in any of these areas. And in addition to that, you can feel free to join our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have monthly challenges, live Q&As, and an amazing community, all geared toward whole-body health. So hope to see you there!

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How to Improve Your Knee Pain | Knee Rotation

Are you experiencing chronic knee pain? Maybe you have had multiple issues with your foot, your knee, your hip, or our low back, and you haven’t been able to resolve it. In this blog, we’re going to dive into the rotational component of the knee that is often neglected in most rehab and movement programs. 

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How to Know If Your Knee Lacks Rotation of the Lower Leg Inward

If you notice that when standing, your feet are abducted and turned outward, it could indicate a deficiency in internal tibial rotation, where the lower leg fails to rotate inward.

Another sign can be observed during a squat: if your feet tend to turn out as you descend, this too may signal insufficient rotation in the lower leg. This lack of rotation could also stem from limited ankle dorsiflexion—the bending mobility of the ankle. While issues with the hip and foot may also contribute, for the purpose of this blog, we’re focusing on the inward rotation of the lower leg.

Self-Assessment

To assess this yourself, begin from a seated position. Place your arm under your upper thigh and concentrate on the rotation of your entire lower leg. It’s important to isolate this movement from the foot, as simply turning the foot in and out can be misleading. By stabilizing the upper leg with your arm, you can assist in and out movements, but the emphasis should be on inward rotation. This rotational ability tends to diminish with injuries such as meniscus injuries and other knee-related issues.

What You Can Do About It

If inward rotation feels challenging, start by assisting passively with your hand. Once you’re more comfortable, introduce a slight resistance. You can use a band wrapped around the foot in a figure-eight fashion to provide resistance while moving into internal rotation. Adding resistance helps reinforce this movement neurologically when loaded.

Advanced Progression

For a more advanced progression, try placing a block or a rolled-up towel between your knees. Then, using a smooth surface or a bolster, slowly extend your knees while keeping your toes and tibia rotated inward. Aim for complete extension, then reverse the movement by turning your feet and lower leg outward as you return to the starting position. This exercise requires careful control and deliberate movement to maintain good fascial tension throughout.

Key Takeaway

If you’ve encountered issues like patellofemoral pain or meniscus injuries, it’s often associated with inadequate rotation in the tibia or lower leg. I hope you find these assessments and exercises helpful in your journey. Remember, never work through pain, and approach assessments with gentle curiosity to truly understand the mechanics and choose appropriate exercises.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, give it a share, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

If you need help more individually, please reach out for a discovery session. We would love the opportunity to help you in any of these areas. And in addition to that, you can feel free to join our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have monthly challenges, live Q&As, and an amazing community, all geared toward whole-body health. So hope to see you there!

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All About H Pylori

Are you experiencing burping throughout the day? Perhaps you feel nauseous in the morning when you first wake up, or you feel unsure if you’re full or hungry. You might even have some upper GI symptoms. Today, we will discuss H. pylori, which is common in 50% of the population.

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What do you need to know about H. pylori?

H. pylori is a bacterial infection that presents itself in the stomach. It can happen for several reasons. 

One, it is highly transmissible. Sharing drinks with family or friends is a common way to transmit H. pylori. Additionally, factors such as poor digestion and protective mechanisms can contribute to its spread.

Decreased stomach acid or pancreatic elastase may lead to reduced digestive capability, particularly in the stomach, thereby increasing the risk of H. pylori infection. Interestingly, even if two individuals share a drink with an infected person, one may contract the infection while the other remains unaffected, akin to other infectious diseases.

How H. pylori can be associated with peptic ulcer

H. pylori is also one of the main reasons why we get peptic ulcers.

In the past, we would always say that an ulcer was due to stress. While there is some truth to that based on stress-driven inflammation, gastric changes, and a decrease in stomach acid, the primary reason that we get that is because of H. pylori specifically. 

When I see adults that go through their timeline and understand that, as a kid, they were having all of these GI issues and were typically treated with a proton pump inhibitor, I always question, “Did they have H. pylori at that time and it wasn’t diagnosed or treated appropriately?” 

If left untreated, it can lead to gastritis and eventually peptic ulcers. It can also cause a variety of other symptoms.

Symptoms of H. pylori

Burping is a common symptom of H. pylori. If someone burps frequently throughout the day or pays special attention to it, it may indicate this condition. 

Other symptoms may include waking up feeling nauseous, being unsure if they’re hungry or full throughout the day, bloating, and classic reflux-type symptoms. Constipation, diarrhea, or bowel changes can also occur. Keep in mind that all symptoms can overlap with any gastrointestinal issue.

Diagnosis and treatment

The most conventional test is actually a breath test. However, a really great way to test for H. pylori is a stool test. You can test specifically for H. pylori as well as do it as part of a comprehensive stool analysis. 

Regardless of the diagnostic method, prompt treatment is crucial if H. pylori is detected due to its potential downstream effects. Even if other issues, such as dysbiosis or high inflammatory markers, are present, prioritizing H. pylori treatment is essential. Fortunately, treatment is relatively straightforward, with successful outcomes achievable.

What treatment is available?

Traditionally, H. pylori is used to be treated solely with antibiotics. Still, in those cases, it only works in 50% of the cases, and in addition to that, as you can imagine, with antibiotics, it’s causing a whole host of other issues. 

H. pylori can actually be treated with mastic gum, which is from the unique resin of a Mediterranean tree. This can be used up to 1,000 mg twice a day for 2 to 3 months and is highly effective in remedying H. pylori. 

Although someone might be experiencing low stomach acid in addition to having H. pylori, it’s recommended not to necessarily use hydrochloric acid or stomach acid as a supplement while treating H. pylori.

This can be reassessed after you finish the treatment successfully, but a lot of times, when someone might be having some of these upper GI issues, it is because of H. pylori. Once again, you can treat the subsequent low stomach acid as needed. There are different schools of thought on this, but clinically speaking, what I found to be very helpful is treating it and then addressing the low stomach acid. And last but not least, do not share your drinks and food with others, even if you love them.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, give it a share, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

If you need help more individually, please reach out for a discovery session. We would love the opportunity to help you in any of these areas. And in addition to that, you can feel free to join our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have monthly challenges, live Q&As, and an amazing community, all geared toward whole-body health. So hope to see you there!

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2 Somatic Practices for Overwhelm

Life can get overwhelming, leaving us feeling lost and stressed. If you’re caught up in despair, hopelessness, or panic, you’re not alone. Today, let’s take a breather and do a few easy exercises together. These steps can help you break free from the chaos and shift to a place of mindfulness, joy, and grounding. Join me on this journey to rediscover serenity and embrace a more balanced and peaceful life.

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Why Consider Somatic Practices

When you find yourself in a lower or even a higher energy state, overwhelmed and a bit disconnected from yourself or the world, this simple exercise is designed to help you explore and reconnect with the beauty of your body.

2 Somatic Practices You Can Do to Avoid Overwhelm

1. Body Tapping

The first technique is called body tapping. You can literally tap all aspects of your body, moving through and bringing your awareness to each part. Notice how you feel. What’s happening? Can you feel the vibration throughout your body? Can you feel the fascia, the network of sensory nerves in your body? By bringing awareness and noticing what’s happening, you can do this at your own pace—fast or slow. This technique is excellent for fostering flexibility in both your mind and body.

2. Butterfly

The second technique is called the butterfly. For this, cross your arms, feel that connection, and then open up wide. I recommend pairing this with your breath—inhale as you close and exhale as you open. Feel the connection, perhaps rounding a bit to release any tension you might be holding, and then open up.

Key Takeaway

With both of these exercises, there’s no specific time limit. Instead, focus on what you’re feeling. Consider your physical sensations—do you notice pain, discomfort, or tension? Pay attention to the emotions or thoughts that arise. This reflection is a great way to connect with your experience and be present. When thoughts take you down a rabbit hole, shift your attention to your body. Ground yourself in the present moment by getting into your body.

I hope these exercises were helpful. If they were, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. For more content, check out our app with various programs and exercises. 

We also offer one-on-one services and group programs. Feel free to reach out, and we hope to assist you on your journey. Meanwhile, explore our other content, including vagus nerve exercises, somatic practices, nutrition, gut health, and movement to support your health journey.

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4 Considerations for Your Best Nutrition Plan

Are you constantly searching for the next best diet? Maybe you’ve tried keto, intermittent fasting, paleo, or you’re looking for the right fit this time. If that’s you, read on for four things to consider when planning your personalized nutrition.

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Why nutrition plan should be personalized

I truly believe that nutrition should be personalized for you. We can’t just look at what our friends or relatives are doing because there are many things to consider. Today, we’re going to discuss four key categories.

Key categories of a nutrition plan

1. Current health status and clinical symptoms

For example, are you experiencing cardiometabolic issues like hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol? Are you dealing with inflammatory bowel disease or IBS symptoms? Do you have an autoimmune condition? 

First, look closely at your current health conditions because you may need a specific therapeutic plan for you. Additionally, examine clinical symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, mood issues like anxiety or depression, and inflammatory issues in your immune system. With various symptoms in play, all these factors must be considered to determine the best plan for you at this time.

2. Lab work

We aim for objectivity here. It’s not about labeling the carnivore diet as bad or the vegan diet as good; it’s about understanding how your chosen diet affects your body. Consider your gut health and microbiome and check for low vitamin levels like D, B12, and iron. A nutrient panel can reveal what your diet provides or lacks, eliminating the need for guesswork. Making this process more objective is crucial. 

If you’re feeling great, with good energy and no health issues, and your labs show positive results, your diet is likely working well for you. Conversely, if subjective feelings conflict with objective information, it’s essential to be open-minded and delve deeper into what’s happening.

3. Environmental factors

Now, let’s consider environmental factors. What are your food preferences, likes, and dislikes? Any food aversions? Explore your genetic predispositions, such as the MTHFR gene, impacting B vitamin metabolism and detoxification, and genetic deficiencies, like the DAO (diamine oxidase) enzyme, which may necessitate a tailored approach. Addressing mold exposure, candida, and other specific issues becomes crucial when considering clinical symptoms and health status. 

Environmental exposure is vital to factor in; for instance, if someone is exposed to mold. We also need to consider if there’s a genetic deficiency in breaking down histamines. In such cases, a low histamine diet might be necessary, distinguishing it from perceived sensitivity. 

Proactively addressing exposure through nutrition is vital. Consider incorporating more phytonutrients and antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress if your body is under environmental strain. By understanding and addressing these environmental factors, we can proactively mitigate their effects through dietary choices.

4. Adverse food reactions

Lastly, we have adverse food reactions, which fall into three categories. First, there’s food sensitivity—an IgG and IgA-mediated reaction—which can be delayed. This means a reaction might occur on day two, three, or even four after consuming a potentially sensitive food. 

On the other hand, a food allergy, an IgE-mediated reaction, results in an immediate response, varying from mild to severe—ranging from itching in the mouth to an anaphylactic reaction. 

Additionally, there’s food intolerance, where the body lacks enzymes to break down specific food components.

To create a personalized diet plan, we must consider these reactions. For instance, one person might avoid a certain food due to sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy. However, it doesn’t mean you should avoid it too. Testing methods, elimination diets, and allergy tests can provide objective insights. It’s crucial not to eliminate foods solely based on assumptions, making the process more objective and informed.

Key takeaway

We consider all these categories, acknowledging numerous other variables. My biggest takeaway for you is to avoid blindly following a specific diet merely because it’s popular among influencers, friends, or family. 

Evaluate your individual needs: your activity levels, interest in food, cooking preferences, and the feasibility of meal prep based on your schedule. All these factors are crucial in designing a healthy and sustainable meal plan tailored to you. It’s not about pursuing perfection but finding what works for you and allowing it to evolve over time. You may not start with a perfect diet, but gradually develop habits and broaden your perspective on food – not just as fuel but as information, medicine, a means to connect, and a way to heal your body. Nutrition is powerful and influences every reaction in your body. To function optimally, we must eat optimally.

If you found this helpful, please give it a like, share it, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Feel free to reach out if you’re seeking an individualized approach to your nutrition plan – we’d love to hear from you and schedule a discovery session. Also, check out our fantastic community on The Movement Paradigm app, which is available on Apple or Google. Join us for various programs and abundant information. It’s a great community to support you on your journey. Hope to see you soon!

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6 Ways to Overcome Burnout

Are you feeling completely emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted? You feel like you can’t keep going? Today, we are going to talk about burnout, which is actually an ICD-10 code, i.e., a medical diagnosis.

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What you need to know

You’re exhausted in all aspects, and you feel like there is nothing in you to do what you need to do. You might have a lack of energy, daytime sleepiness, and overall lethargy. You might feel like you perform poorly at work, at home, or even in other aspects of your life.

Stages of stress 

When considering the nervous system or stages of stress, we have our state of social engagement where we’re connected, mindful, grounded, curious, and safe. When in fight or flight, we’re in survival mode. Our body and nervous system do everything to protect us.  We’re either fighting: angry, frustrated, worried, anxious, or even in a panic state, or in a freeze state, where you can feel shut down, overwhelmed, disconnected, and maybe even suicidal. In this freeze state, there’s blood sugar dysregulation, significant sleep disturbances, feelings of exhaustion, fatigue, and procrastination, where you just feel like you cannot do what you need to do despite knowing what you should do. 

It’s important to recognize this because in looking at the stages of stress, stage 3 stress is where burnout exists. 

What can you do about it?

Let’s get into the important part: what can you do about it? 

1. Identify if there are any physical causes

The number one thing I want you to think of is being able to identify if there are any physical causes of your burnout. For example, do you have a medical condition like hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s? Do you have a nutrient deficiency, such as vitamin D or iron, contributing to this depletion of energy that prevents you from doing the things you love and want to do?

This will require some investigation. I strongly encourage you to reach out to a functional medicine practitioner, a dietitian, or even your doctor to help identify the underlying root causes of why you might be feeling this way.

2. Focus on your sleep

Focus on your sleep, not just the quantity but also the quality. It’s not only about the number of hours you get each night but also about the conditions that promote restoration, repair, and healing for your body. This may vary for each person, but it’s one of the most crucial factors.

Consider wearing blue light blockers after 7:00 p.m. and establish a nightly ritual before bed. Use down-regulation techniques like breathing exercises, vagus nerve exercises, somatic practices, yoga, or hypnosis as part of your pre-sleep routine. Additionally, pay attention to the room temperature, ensuring it’s cool and dark, and optimize your natural circadian rhythm.

There are numerous ways to enhance sleep hygiene. I recommend starting with one approach, turning it into a habit, and staying consistent with your sleep pattern. This consistency will help optimize your natural sleep-wake cycle, contributing to the healing process for your body.

3. Sunlight

Ideally, aim for 20 minutes of direct sunlight within the first 20 minutes of waking. It’s essential to be outside, even on a cloudy day, as the sunlight’s photons influence cortisol levels. This natural exposure helps increase cortisol production in the morning, supporting melatonin production at night and optimizing hormones related to the sleep-wake cycle.

Sunlight during the day offers benefits beyond vitamin D; it positively affects mood and overall health when consistently integrated into your routine. This shift can help move you from stage three stress and burnout towards a state of social engagement and connection.

If getting outside, especially in the morning, is challenging, consider using a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) light. Bright light therapy has proven helpful for the mentioned benefits. Set it up during breakfast or coffee time as an alternative when outdoor exposure isn’t feasible. While it may not match the Sun’s effectiveness, it serves as a valuable alternative.

4. Regulate your blood sugar

This might sound a little far-fetched, but it is the most important thing to regulate your stress, fatigue, and overall energy levels. The simplest way to achieve this is by eating every 3 to 4 hours. This means having something when you wake up, not necessarily attempting to fast during this time, but assessing your current state and striving for consistently balanced meals with a focus on protein.

Ensure each meal includes at least 30 to 40 grams of protein to stabilize blood sugar. If cortisol is dysregulated, leading to multiple awakenings during the night or early morning peaks, consider having a small snack before bedtime. Pumpkin seeds are a good option, providing zinc, magnesium, protein, fat, and fiber to stabilize blood sugar, along with magnesium promoting better sleep.

Alternatively, try a scoop of peanut butter. Peanut butter contains tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, which in turn is a precursor to melatonin. This can positively impact mood and sleep regulation and help balance blood sugar throughout the night.

5. Vagus nerve exercises, somatic practices, etc.

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about vagus nerve exercises, somatic practices, and meditation. These tools and strategies can be incredibly helpful in regulating your nervous system. In the burnout state, where thoughts of “should, should, should” lead to procrastination and overwhelming fatigue—emotionally, mentally, and physically—it’s crucial to shift focus to the body in a positive way.

Step out of your head and into your body, initiating movement and bringing awareness to your sensations and feelings. Consider vagus nerve exercises or explore somatic practices like body drumming, where you shake, tremble, and discharge excess energy that may not serve you well. There are numerous positive practices to integrate gently; it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Start with small steps to explore your emotions, feelings, and physical sensations at a deeper level.

6. Re-evaluation

Lastly, consider re-evaluation. This involves reassessing everything: your work, your life, your relationships. Can you learn to set boundaries and say no when you have nothing left to give? Recognize that the last bit of giving can be particularly depleting. Acknowledge this and say no, allowing yourself to say yes to your own needs.

Take a deep, inward look at everything in your life at the moment. Make adjustments to grant yourself the incredible opportunity to live life to the fullest. Embrace your authentic self, enjoy your work, your family, your relationships, and all that life has to offer. Providing yourself with this chance is crucial.

If you found this helpful, please give it a like, share it, and comment below. I’d love to hear where you are on your journey. If you need assistance, we’d be delighted to help. Reach out for a discovery session, or join us in the Movement Paradigm app, where we have an incredible community dedicated to whole-body health. That’s precisely what we’re offering, and we want to help you heal and address the root of your health issues. Remember, you can overcome burnout, and we are here for you. Have a great day!

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All About Carpal Tunnel

Are you experiencing chronic thumb pain? Do you feel weakness, finding it hard to open jars and grip things? You might even be feeling numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation in your hand. If so, this blog is for you.

Today, we’re going to talk about carpal tunnel. If you, or someone you know, is stuck in that frustrating cycle where everyday tasks become a pain-filled ordeal, you’re not alone.

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Causes of Carpal Tunnel

Now, what are some of the things that may cause carpal tunnel? 

1. Repetitive activity

Using the mouse all day, engaging in repetitive labor, or activities such as knitting or sewing can trigger carpal tunnel. However, we want to recognize that there’s always an underlying cause.

2. Other causes

Some less obvious factors include hormonal and metabolic issues, inflammatory problems, systemic inflammation, as well as conditions like type 2 diabetes and thyroid disorders, which are correlated with carpal tunnel.

It’s important to understand that carpal tunnel is a specific area. When referring to carpal tunnel, we mean the compression of the median nerve at the level of the carpal tunnel in the wrist after it exits the cervical spine at C5, C6, and travels down the arm into the hand.

As mentioned earlier, you may experience weakness and pain in basic activities, such as using your phone. However, jumping straight to surgery isn’t always the solution. Carpal tunnel compression can occur at multiple levels, starting from the spine, through the scalene area in the neck, pectoralis minor, and down to the pronator teres in the forearm.

Patients often consider surgery immediately, but this approach can lead to more scar tissue, trauma, inflammation, and additional problems. Successful outcomes from carpal tunnel surgery are rare in my experience with patients. While specific cases may warrant surgery, considering anatomical differences between individuals, such as gender-related structural variations, it’s important to always evaluate the mechanics involved.

Assessing Carpal Tunnel

When assessing carpal tunnel, we don’t focus solely on the affected area. We examine everything happening in the neck and spine. 

Check Range of Motion 

Firstly, check your cervical spine’s range of motion for any discomfort. Can you touch your chin to your chest, look up with your face parallel to the ceiling, and turn fully to both sides without pain or symptom reproduction? Ensure symmetry in movements between both sides and check for compensatory patterns.

Breathing

Now, assess your nasal breathing. Are you able to breathe nasally? Are you able to maintain your tongue at the roof of your mouth? This position allows for proper expansion and contraction of the abdomen during nose breathing, avoiding unnecessary strain on the neck and shoulders.

These basic assessments are important because any compensation in these simple patterns indicates a potential issue higher up in the chain. For instance, someone complaining of thumb arthritis and weakness may trace the problem back to median nerve issues caused by neck involvement.

When considering surgery for carpal tunnel, it’s vital to weigh numerous factors and examine all reasons comprehensively. I’ve witnessed numerous individuals successfully avoid carpal tunnel surgery by addressing underlying issues and achieving higher functionality, even engaging in activities that may strain their hands. It’s essential to explore these alternatives and delve into the root causes of movement, pain, or health issues whenever possible.

What Can You Do

Now, what can you do? 

1. Immobilize affected area

During the acute phase (1 week) of your carpal tunnel symptoms, especially as you’re trying to figure out why it’s happening—be it repetitive use or any of the other factors I mentioned—it’s crucial to immobilize it as much as possible, particularly if you need to continue activities. 

If you’re typing or using a mouse extensively, it’s helpful to use a brace to stabilize the carpal tunnel in that acute phase, even while sleeping. This can prevent uncomfortable positions during sleep and waking up with excruciating pain and weakness. Consider it a protective measure that can gradually be phased out as you start feeling better.

2. Identify repetitive activities and make changes

Identify those repetitive activities causing the issue and make some changes. Implement basic ergonomic adjustments at work, use wrist support, take breaks—the most crucial thing—and optimize your posture. Note that perfect posture doesn’t guarantee injury prevention, but you can observe where you might be compensating.

Throughout the day, focus on breathing and movement variability rather than fixating on the ideal desk posture. Every 30 minutes, change positions, move around, take short walks—think of them as movement snacks. This approach aligns better with your body’s preference for avoiding prolonged static positions. Spending hours with your neck forward or in one position can contribute to pain and inflammation.

3. Address inflammation

If the nerve is inflamed, there are things that you want to think about from an overall health standpoint. Looking at things like your diet, is there anything that you are eating, or maybe even drinking alcohol or excess coffee, or things that might be putting you in a more inflammatory state? 

You can check out some of my other videos to understand that, but ultimately, there could be potential inflammatory triggers such as stress, food, bugs, toxins, trauma, and hormones.

4. Work on your movement

It’s important to note that everyone’s experience will be different, as the issues they face vary. For instance, do you struggle with instability in your shoulders? Or perhaps your core isn’t as stable as it could be? Another factor is motor control, which refers to your ability to sequence, time, and coordinate your movements. If any of these problems are present, it may cause you to compensate at the wrist and elbow, perpetuating the cycle of discomfort.

Working with a professional is really important. Get a great movement assessment or a physical therapist so you know how you’re moving and what you need to do to correct that.

5. Nerve glide

When the time is right, which is not in the acute phase of your carpal tunnel syndrome, is nerve glides. To do this, stand up and use a wall for support. Place your opposite hand on your shoulder and press it down firmly. Then, with your fingers down and your elbow bent, straighten your elbow, flatten your palm, and turn your head. It’s important to remember to depress your shoulder while doing this exercise. You can start doing it without a wall, but using a wall for guidance can be helpful.

Go back to the center. Breathe in and breathe out. You only want to go to the point of tension; do not create more symptoms. If doing a few of these worsens your symptoms, it’s not suitable for you right now. If you feel fewer symptoms, you likely have more nerve tension, making this exercise appropriate. I recommend starting with one set of 10; assess and feel how it goes. If it feels good, limit it to no more than three sets a day. Ideally, work with a professional to ensure appropriateness.

Think of it like flossing your teeth; just as dental floss moves through teeth, your nerves floss through muscles. You’re not stretching the nerve but encouraging it to glide through the tissue more freely. This is crucial when addressing chronic issues.

If it was helpful, please give it a like, give it a share, comment, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on your journey and feel that you need an individualized approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.

You can also join our Movement Paradigm app, where we have an amazing community. We have a great group of people who are all focused on whole-body health, high-quality movement, programs, mindset, nervous system regulation, nutrition, and so much more.

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Why You May Have Bloating and What to Do About It

Are you experiencing chronic bloating? Perhaps you are experiencing it 20 to 30 minutes after a meal or 2 to 3 hours after a meal, or even as the day goes on, it just progressively gets worse. You have tried so many different things, but you just don’t seem to be able to put a dent in it. 

In this blog, we will talk about some of the common causes of bloating and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

It is important to be able to understand what the root causes of your bloating are and how you can begin to heal your body and hopefully feel your best. 

As I mentioned, we want to start by assessing when you have your bloating and how it presents to understand the root causes.

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Causes of bloating

1. Poor digestion

I see this as the most common cause of bloating, which can look slightly different for each person. As I mentioned, we want to know if you feel the bloating about 20 to 30 minutes after a meal. This is oftentimes associated with low stomach acid and, perhaps, even low pancreatic enzymes.

Our incredible digestive process begins in the mouth during chewing, where enzymes from saliva initiate the mechanical breakdown of food. Stomach acid is then released to break down proteins, and pancreatic enzymes break down on proteins, carbs, and fats. Bile helps with fat breakdown, and brush border enzymes continue the digestive process. Any disruption in this pathway can push bacteria downstream into the intestines, potentially causing bloating.

In a fight-or-flight state or freeze state, our natural GI motility and digestive capability are compromised. For instance, during lunch, while using the computer or phone, reading, or multitasking, cortisol levels increase, diverting blood flow away from the digestive tract. This slows the digestive process and can be easily addressed to make a significant change in bloating.

2. Nervous system regulation

If we are in a fight-or-flight or freeze state, it not only affects our digestion in the moment but also has overall implications. If every time we eat, or if there’s a fear or apprehension of food leading to a persistent fight-or-flight state, it can contribute to ongoing bloating and dysbiosis in the gut—an imbalance in bacteria. Stress is known to alter the bacterial colonization of the gut, thereby contributing to gut dysregulation.

3. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

When considering the microbiome, it’s ideal for the majority of bacterial diversity to be in the large intestine. The small intestine, with only about 3 million Colony Forming Units, is meant to have much fewer bacteria, as it primarily serves as the site for nutrient absorption. An overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, especially when consuming fermentable carbohydrates, can lead to gas production. Bloating and gas occurring 2 to 3 hours after eating, particularly with foods like cruciferous vegetables, apples, blackberries, and avocado, may indicate increased gas production, ultimately expelled through the lungs.

If you experience bloating and gas, especially within 2 to 3 hours after a meal or throughout the day, it’s worth evaluating the possibility of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) as a potential root cause. Additionally, other gut disorders should be considered, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which encompasses functional bowel disorders, with about 80% of IBS cases being SIBO. 

Other factors like leaky gut, resulting from prolonged gut issues, poor digestion, stress, nutrient deficiencies, and inflammation, can contribute to intestinal permeability. When tight junctions in the intestine become compromised, substances like undigested food, pathogens, or toxins may leak into the bloodstream, triggering an immune response. This systemic inflammatory process, coupled with poor nutrient absorption, can also lead to bloating. 

Fungal overgrowth or parasites are other factors that can contribute to bloating, making it a challenging symptom to pinpoint in various gut disorders.

4. Food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies

We need to consider adverse food reactions, which can manifest in various ways. Allergies typically result in mild to severe, immediate, and IgE-mediated reactions. On the other hand, food sensitivities involve delayed responses, occurring on days two, three, or four, and are mediated by IgA and IgG. Intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, lead to immediate reactions after consuming the problematic food, in this case, causing bowel issues. The lack of enzymes to break down the ingested substance triggers an immediate response. It’s essential to recognize that all these adverse food reactions have the potential to cause bloating.

How to address bloating

1. Address your digestion

No matter what you do, if you decide to do any testing, you want to ensure that you’re doing the most fundamental thing, which is putting yourself in a parasympathetic state before eating. Take three breaths before you eat and chew your food 20 to 30 times. Also, consider going for a walk immediately afterward for at least a few minutes to help digestion. If you can implement these with every meal, that will make a significant difference.

2. Testing

If testing is within your capability, I highly recommend a comprehensive stool test, such as the GI-MAP. Alternatively, you can conduct individual tests, examining factors like pancreatic elastase or assessing leaky gut through the biomarker zonulin. A stool test, in particular, provides valuable insights into intestinal health, identifying dysbiosis, parasites, and potential SIBO. If SIBO is a concern, a specific test is available, but you still need to understand why you might have SIBO in the first place.

3. Vagus nerve exercises

Numerous resources are available regarding nervous system regulation. I encourage you to explore my channel or blog, where you’ll find various vagus nerve exercises and somatic practices. You can seamlessly integrate these simple activities into your daily life, assisting in transitioning from a fight-or-flight or freeze state to a state of safety and connection within your body.

4. Identify triggers

Identifying triggers is crucial for proper digestion, connection, and safety. Investigating food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies is vital. If you find yourself sensitive to almost everything, experiencing reactions to every food, it may indicate a core issue, often linked to a leaky gut.

While eliminating certain foods temporarily can be helpful, it’s not a sustainable solution and may contribute to dysfunctional eating behaviors. Recognize that this approach might be necessary for a specific period, but the key is to move towards understanding what your root causes are and how you can begin to heal whatever they are.

You can explore modified elimination diets or full elimination diets if appropriate for your situation and without a history of eating disorders. These approaches can help uncover food sensitivities. There are simple ways to assess these sensitivities and work towards resolving them.

Key takeaway

In essence, there are many different reasons why you may have bloating, and there are also many ways to identify this information, even by just assessing the timing of when things happen. There are specific tests you can do to understand it for sure, have objective measures, and begin to heal your body, transform your life, and thrive. 

If you want to do that with us, please feel free to reach out. We would love the opportunity to help schedule a discovery session. If you want to join our community on our Movement Paradigm app, we would love to have you there. We have lots of nervous system information, monthly challenges, and live Q&A, so we’d love for you to be a part of that as well.

If it was helpful, please give it a like, give it a share, comment, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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Vagus Nerve Hack | 4-minute Facelift

Are you experiencing anxiety or chronic stress? Maybe you feel like it’s daunting to try to practice deep diaphragmatic breathing. Well, if that’s the case, I’m hoping that this technique will be very effective for you, bringing you from a state of fight or flight or even freeze to a state of social engagement where you can be calm, grounded, mindful, and connected.

Rather watch or listen? 

Why consider the 4-minute facelift?

If you’re feeling like you are experiencing this chronic stress and anxiety where it just feels really hard to connect and move inward, then I would recommend this reset. It is a version of Stanley Rosenberg’s work but is a bit more expansive to bring you to a state of social engagement. 

Our vagus nerve is 80% of our parasympathetic nervous system. However, we also want to consider our facial nerve, trigeminal nerve, and glossopharyngeal nerve, which are all involved in the expressions of our faces. 

How to perform this exercise

We’re going to start by using either hand on either side of your face. Begin by placing one hand on each side of your face, just outside the nose. Press gently on the first layer of skin, feeling the tissue. Move the hands up and down, assessing resistance. Be gentle with your skin and tissue. Identify the area with more resistance and hold that position until you experience a sigh, swallow, yawn, or a combination, indicating relaxation of the nervous system.

Move to the inside of the eye, applying a little pressure. Move the hands up and down, finding resistance. Hold the position where resistance is felt until you experience a sigh, swallow, or yawn. Return to the starting position, going a bit deeper into the tissue. Move in a circular motion, identifying resistance and holding until the tissue softens or shows signs of relaxation.

Focus on one side of the face to observe the path and increased blood flow. Use the tongue on the roof of the mouth, moving through the alphabet to activate the glossopharyngeal nerve and enhance awareness in the tongue area. 

Following that, perform an ear release by gently pulling back and down on the side of your ear. Feel the gentle pull towards the outside shoulder and await any signs of relaxation, like a sigh or yawn.

Combine all these steps on both sides of your face. Lastly, do the cheek lift for about 30 seconds. Bring your tongue to your nose, lift your cheeks, and turn your head. Hold for 30 seconds, and then bring it back to the center. This should create a relaxing yet invigorating feeling, a sense of presence.

This is a great way, as many of the other vagus nerve exercises are, to be able to use this sensory information to provide input to the brain, to be able to regulate our nervous system, and to bring us to a state of safety and connection.

Hopefully, you enjoy it as much as I did. And if this is not the right one for you, that’s okay too. There are so many options. Still please explore them and see your response, how you feel, and how you might be able to integrate that into your day. 

If you found this information helpful, please be sure to give it a like, share it with others, leave a comment below, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm®, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. 

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on your journey and feel that you need an individualized approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.

If you’re interested in accessing a wide range of programs, including those on nutrition, somatics, and vagus nerve exercises, as well as movement programs to help you optimize your overall wellness, consider checking out our app, The Movement Paradigm, available on both Apple and Google platforms.

Other things that might interest you:

Neck Pain Causes and Solutions

Are you experiencing chronic neck pain? Do you feel like you’re always holding tension in your neck, and no matter how many stretches you do, it just does not seem to resolve? Today, we’re going to talk about some root causes of neck pain. Also, of course, some solutions for it. 

Rather watch or listen? 

4 Neck Pain Causes

1. Breathing and/or airway dysfunction

Let’s start with one of the biggest issues, which is some type of breathing and/or airway dysfunction. This means that we can be in a sympathetic state, indicating that we’re in that fight or flight state. This means that we’re going to be breathing from our neck and shoulders. 

We breathe 25,000 times a day. So, if every breath is coming from here, you can appreciate how tight this is going to be. We can also have an airway dysfunction, indicating that there could be a deviated septum, a narrow airway, or changes in the jaw. Even poor tongue posture can play a role in exacerbating these issues.

In essence, many things might indicate that there is an airway issue contributing to poor breathing throughout the day and during sleep. 

2. Posture

Although there’s no clear link between posture and neck pain, we want to think about any potential compensatory patterns that we have in our body, as they can ultimately lead to compensation in movement and, potentially, pain.

For instance, if you spend long hours at your desk staring at a computer, you might develop certain habits. If you’re always looking at the screen to the left, your muscles and tissues may adapt to that position over time, becoming shorter and possibly causing discomfort.

This doesn’t mean you can’t move your head in different ways, but it’s worth paying attention to regular activities to see if there’s a chance to adjust and put yourself in a better position. Making small changes might help prevent potential pain down the road.

3. Headaches or migraines

If you’re experiencing any ongoing headaches or migraines, this often can be associated with neck pain. But, once again, we want to understand the underlying causes of that. Many times, it can be associated with jaw clenching, which can be correlated with airway dysfunction.

4. Lack of stability or motor control

Neck pain occurs when the neck compensates for a lack of stability or motor control, which we refer to as sequencing, timing, and coordination, somewhere else in the body. A good example of that is our core or abdominal area. It’s a beautiful balance of having the respiratory diaphragm work in synergy with our pelvic diaphragm, and all these muscles need the right coordination to stabilize our spine. This way, we can generate force and move efficiently in everything we do.

If we lack stability in the core, then something in the body has to figure out what to do for that. So often, that can be the neck. For instance, if you are trying to do a core exercise on the ground, and instead of the core really doing what it’s supposed to do, you start to get tension and abnormal tension in your neck. It’s a perfect example of how this could happen.

5 Neck Pain Solutions

So what can you do about it? 

1. Optimize your breathing

Let’s talk about some key points. First, address your tongue position. The resting tongue position should be on the roof of the mouth, gently touching the top teeth. This allows our airway to open so we can get optimal breath. We want to think about breathing in through the nose, and instead of breathing straight back, think about breathing up. As you breathe in, aim for full expansion in the abdomen. Think of it as a 360-degree breath—front, back, and sides of the abdomen. This creates inter-abdominal pressure. As you exhale, the abdomen contracts and the ribs come down.

If you feel like you can work on your breathing and improve it over time, that’s amazing. If it seems challenging to improve, you might need to explore other options to identify if there is indeed some structural airway issue that may need addressing.

2. Stop stretching

Often, when we have neck pain, our instinct is to stretch and stretch. When anything is tight in the body, these muscles are doing exactly what we need at the time—they’re protecting us. So if there’s a lack of stability somewhere else, if breathing is not optimal, then our body is doing what it needs to do to compensate and maintain homeostasis or balance.

We want to be kind to it. If we just take away that compensation, it might have a temporary fix, but it won’t be an ongoing solution. Instead, I love recommending the salamander stretch

You’ve probably seen this in my other blogs and videos, but it’s worth repeating. This is based on Stanley Rosenberg’s work. Interlace your fingers, bring them behind the back of your head, and relax your arms. Keep your arms down, side bend your upper body and look with your eyes in the opposite direction. Hold this for about 30 seconds. You might experience a sigh, swallow, or yawn—a sign of relaxation. Come back to center, then switch to the other side, eyes in the other direction, holding for 30 seconds. Before and after you perform this exercise, I recommend checking your range of motion. Normally, there is an immediate improvement afterward.

3. Identify any habitual patterns

Is your computer screen over to the left? Can you move it right in front of you? Are you on your phone for hours looking to the right? Just observe these things that you might be doing all day long and consider making some modifications. You don’t need to have perfect posture all day long—I’m not suggesting that. But it might be beneficial to change some of these habits that you’re doing for hours and hours a day.

4. Create stability and strength in the rest of the body

Learn how to build a resilient body. I know that might sound like a lot, but when we think about becoming stronger from the ground up, from our feet up, we can establish a strong connection and have a foundation for stability, strength, and mobility. This way, our neck doesn’t need to compensate all the time. When there’s chronic neck pain, unpacking things such as optimizing breathing, building stability and mobility (for example, in the thoracic spine), and then building strength can truly shift the trajectory of your pain in a lasting way.

5. Identify causes of chronic pain

And last but not least, whenever we have chronic pain, we want to consider a couple of other things. First, is there any systemic inflammation occurring? Are there factors such as certain foods, hormonal imbalances, or chronic stress playing into this systemic inflammatory response, especially when the pain persists? Additionally, we want to distinguish between acute pain and chronic pain. 

Chronic pain involves central sensitization, where our brain perceives a high alert of pain all the time. We need to learn how to use nervous system regulation and other strategies to down-regulate the nervous system, recognizing pain as information and shifting from a heightened sense to pain associated with a specific movement pattern. In chronic pain, there is no tissue damage at that point, whereas in acute pain, there can be tissue damage.

As always, I hope this helps you understand your neck pain a little bit more and, of course, some of the things that you can do to begin to change your pain and improve your health.

If you found this information helpful, please be sure to give it a like, share it with others, leave a comment below, and, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm®, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. 

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on your journey and feel that you need an individualized approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.

If you’re interested in accessing a wide range of programs, including those on nutrition, somatics, and vagus nerve exercises, as well as movement programs to help you optimize your overall wellness, consider checking out our app, The Movement Paradigm, available on both Apple and Google platforms.

Other things that might interest you: