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What Should You Eat For Chronic Pain? | Nutrition for Chronic Pain

Do you suffer from chronic pain? Perhaps you’ve had pain for greater than three months, and you’re not sure how you can support nutritionally? Fortunately, there is so much high-quality evidence to support how diet therapy can make a profound difference in chronic pain.

Chronic pain is associated with pro-inflammatory states which are linked to peripheral and central sensitization. This is when the brain perceives that there’s pain, and even a heightened sense of pain with very little stimuli, yet there is no tissue damage.

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Additionally, the mitochondria, which is essentially the powerhouse of our cells, are also associated with chronic pain. The damage to the mitochondria can be driven by how we eat. Consuming pro-inflammatory foods, such as the Standard American Diet—the Western Diet—which is rich in sugary foods, alcohol, processed meats, and enriched grains, can contribute to inflammation and even damage the mitochondria. Therefore, with the Standard American Diet, there becomes an imbalance between our essential fatty acids, which we need for optimal health, and pro-inflammatory markers. That’s where a specific diet therapy comes in.

The first thing we want to do is address the inflammatory markers. The Mediterranean diet is one of the best and well-researched diets that has been shown to decrease inflammation. Think of a diet comprised of fish, legumes, olive oil, low in grains, and high in vegetables – also referred to as an anti-inflammatory diet.

5 ways that you address your chronic pain through diet

1) Decreasing Inflammation

The best way to do this is through an elimination diet. Eliminate the potentially pro-inflammatory foods for at least three weeks and then slowly reintroduce them, one at a time. These include gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, coffee, tea, corn, soy, processed meats, red meat, chocolate, tea, coffee, and shellfish. If you don’t want to do a full elimination diet, you can do a modified version—eliminate gluten and dairy, for example. These two definitely can play a role in inflammation, and specifically chronic pain. If you’re eating a lot of sugar, this is also a great place to start. Sugar is a massive pro-inflammatory agent, so decreasing sugar in your diet would be very beneficial.

 2) Calorie Reduction

When we are consuming fewer calories than required by our basal metabolic rate, then we can not only increase our brain’s ability to generate new neurons by decreasing free radicals, but we can also increase ATP, the energy source of the cells, and we can increase our number of mitochondria. These all could play a huge role in inflammation and pain.

3) Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating, can help turn on genes that help cells survive by reducing inflammation. There are many different ways to include intermittent fasting in your life. Fasting from seven o’clock at night until seven o’clock in the morning would be a 12-hour fast. You can slowly increase that to a 16 hour fast, or you can do 24-hour fast two days a week. There are many options to suit your lifestyle and it is strongly recommended to start slowly.

4) Specific Nutrient Supplementation

Omega 3’s, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B-12, and magnesium have all been shown to impact chronic pain. There are other nutrients that also help specifically with chronic pelvic pain, such as vitamin E, B1, and B3. 

5) Gut Health

Seventy percent of your immune system is in your gut. If there is an inflammation issue, we should start in the gut. So, do you need to include prebiotics, probiotics, or do you need a specific gut health protocol? If you are not managing gut health properly, then you are not managing chronic pain and inflammation well, either. 

These are just a few of the ways that we can use diet to influence chronic pain.  When we have that central sensitization of the nervous systems, our brain still perceives that there’s pain, yet there is likely no tissue damage. Our nervous system is heightened, and we can begin to associate chronic pain with pro-inflammatory markers. We can use diet to decrease inflammation and optimize our micronutrient, antioxidant, and phytonutrient profile to begin to bring our body back into a state of balance and healing. 

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN

What do your gut bacteria do? | 10 Functions of Gut Bacteria | Microbiome

Everyone talks about the microbiome and gut bacteria, but why is it so important? What are the actual functions of the bacteria?

Before we get into the 10 functions of your gut bacteria, let’s talk a little bit about the anatomy. The small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet of our intestine, should be a relatively sterile environment. The large intestine, however, is where we house the majority of the bacteria, especially the beneficial bacteria. When we get something like a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), it is in essence where the bacteria have now been relocated and overpopulated into the small intestine where it is not supposed to be. We have trillions of bacteria in our gut, and we have a thousand different species. There are also 5,000 different bacterial strains. With that said, everyone is unique, however, there are combinations of collections of bacteria that are present in healthy individuals.

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10 Functions of Gut Bacteria

So, let’s get into the 10 functions of gut bacteria and why it is so important that you have an optimal balance.

  1. Nervous System Modification

This is a really powerful function of our gut bacteria. We want to think of three key neurotransmitters which are essentially are chemical messengers that are formed from the gut bacteria.

  • Serotonin: This is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Ninety percent of our serotonin is located in our gut.
  • Dopamine: Fifty percent of our dopamine, our feel-good hormone, is located in our gut.
  • GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid): This is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases feelings of fear and anxiety and produces a feeling of calm.

All of these are associated with this amazing gut-brain connection.

2. Breaks Down Food Compounds

Essentially, the gut bacteria metabolize the food and medications that we consume.

3. Pathogen Resistance

Think of our gut bacteria as one of our protective mechanisms. It will protect us from pathogens and toxins.

4. Protection Against Any Epithelial Injury

It protects against infections, just like it does with toxins and pathogens.

5. Bone Density Modulation

The gut bacteria can influence our bone density.

6. Promotion of Fat Storage

The gut bacteria can influence the hormones that store fat. Additionally, the Standard American Diet (SAD), that is, the western diet, is influencing gut bacteria, which has been linked to obesity.

7. Immune System Stimulation

Seventy percent of our immune system lies within our gut. So when we have optimal gut bacteria, this gut bacteria is influencing how our immune system responds to foreign invaders, toxins, and pathogens that they might be exposed to.

8. Promotion of Angiogenesis

When we have more blood vessels in the gut, this can be very powerful for future advances in treatments for gut infections.

9. Biosynthesis of Vitamins and Amino Acids

Water-soluble vitamins are plentiful in the diet, but also can be synthesized by the gut.

10. Metabolism of Therapeutics

This is ultimately how we process our medications and supplements. So keep in mind, that if you are planning to take things, you have to make sure that your gut is optimized so that you can metabolize these appropriately.

Now that you know the functions of gut bacteria, you know how important it is to optimize it. You can do that through numerous things, and you can see some other videos for different suggestions to optimize your gut health. But, we do want to think about everything from prebiotics, the fiber that the probiotics feed on, probiotics whether that’s through fermented food or supplementation, and then, of course, stress management, a high-fiber diet with 25 to 35 grams a day, drinking plenty of water, eating a whole, natural food diet to ensure that you are optimizing the diversity of your gut—that is one of the key things that your gut loves, diversity.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN

How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

Do you have forward head posture, or do you have a friend or family member who does? Perhaps you’re always telling them to stand up straight, but they just can’t seem to do it. Let’s talk about the neurology and physiology behind forward head posture and most importantly, what you can do about it.

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Three things that contribute to forward head posture:

  1. Decreased tone in the trapezius muscle and increased tone in the sternocleidomastoid muscle

This is typically due to some kind of breathing dysfunction. That can be from an airway issue such as nasal valve collapse, deviated septum, chronic allergies, jaw issues, enlarged tonsils, just to name a few, which contributes to poor breathing mechanics, breathing more from the neck and shoulders as opposed to the abdomen and diaphragm. It can also be caused by a stressful event, trauma, or even chronic ongoing stress. This specific imbalance in these muscles is what contributes to forward head posture. Additionally, people that have asthma or COPD will almost always have a forward head posture.

2) State of the nervous system

If you are in a chronically stressed state, perhaps a fight or flight state, or even a freeze state where you feel shut down, how you hold your posture will be impacted. Your posture is your story and how you present yourself to the world. Do you walk into a room with confidence and standing up tall, or do you feel shy, reserved, and rounded forward? All of your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and activities impact your posture. We can’t simply think about your forward head posture as a plumb line.  It is so much more than that. 

3) Scars

No matter where the scar is or how old it is, it can affect your breathing, emotions, and movement. Scars contribute to postural changes, shifts in the nervous system, and contribute to muscle imbalances. It’s important to look at any scar in your body no matter where it is or what it’s from, and begin to address the scar from a fascial perspective. This means that doing scar work can influence your emotions, breathing, and movement. 

Now that you have three causes, let’s talk about three solutions. So, when we’re thinking about how we’re going to shift this forward head posture, we have to think beyond just simple exercises such as chin retractions and thoracic mobility. We have to think about the cranial nerves because they are impacting our nervous system, facial expression, and whether we’re in a state of social engagement, which means we’re mindful, joyful, and grounded. We’re going to address this more so from a cranial nerve perspective and optimizing breathing so that you can make a change immediately. You can also have a cumulative effect the more that you do these.

What I would recommend before you start the exercises is to have someone take a side view picture of your forward head posture. Then, take one again after you finish the exercises to see if there is a change. There absolutely should be at least a subtle change if not a very noticeable change. 

Three solutions for forward head posture

Three solutions for forward head posture

1) The Basic Exercise

With this, you’re putting input to the back of your head and looking with your eyes to create more blood flow around the brainstem. This is where the vagus nerve originates. What happens when we’re not in a state of social engagement is our first two vertebrae can become slightly misaligned. By bringing blood flow to the area and stimulating the vagus nerve can bring the first two vertebrae back into alignment, which means we’re back into a state of social engagement. This can impact your forward head posture almost immediately.

To perform the basic exercise, interlace your fingers and bring them behind your head. Look with your eyes only in one direction until you sigh, swallow, or yawn. When you’ve done that, repeat on the other side. This should take approximately 30 to 60 seconds, however, it can take longer depending on if your nervous system is ready to relax 

2) The Salamander Exercise 

This is also a cranial nerve reprogramming exercise, which will help to create more space in the chest cavity, the heart, and the lungs, therefore impacting breathing and forward head posture.

To perform the salamander, assume a table position. Look with your eyes first and then your head as you bring your ear to your shoulder and hold that for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side again making sure you lead with your eyes, then side bend your head bringing your ear towards your shoulder. 

3) The Trapezius Twist

This is essentially waking up all of the trapezius muscles. It’s not stretching or strengthening them. It’s just waking them up, which means there will be an immediate change in posture, breathing, forward head posture, as well as overall posture. Especially after you’ve been sitting for some time, get up and do these three twists! You won’t be disappointed.

To perform this exercise, start with your arms grasped together at waist level rocking back and forth. Next, move your arms up to the heart line rocking them back and forth. Lastly, raise your arms slightly above your shoulders and once again rock them back and forth. You should do about five to ten repetitions at each position. 

There you have it, some causes for forward head posture and most importantly some solutions. We do have to remember that with forward head posture it becomes a vicious cycle because the more forward the head is the more blood flow that is constricted from the vertebral arteries. This means less blood flow to the brain. It also is affecting our airway which means it’s impacting our lymphatic system, hormonal system, and causing inflammation in the body. It’s really important to understand the neurology and physiology of forward head posture and begin to think about it from a much different perspective rather than simply corrective exercises like the chin tucks, upper back stretches, and retractions. We want to think of it especially from a nervous system perspective.

Reach out for a 15 minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN

How to Map Your Own Nervous System: The Polyvagal Theory

WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN

Do you have forefoot pain or pathology and you’re not really sure what shoe you should be wearing? There are numerous foot pathologies that you could have, however we are going just zero in on a few today, such as bunions, first metatarsal joint arthritis, neuromas, and plantar plate tears.

Before we get into details about each, let’s just go over some quick anatomy.  The forefoot includes the phalanges (toes), the five metatarsals, and the connective tissue.

Now, let’s jump right into our foot pathologies and what feature in the shoe you should be looking for to accommodate for your pain.

  1. 1st MPJ arthritis:

This 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint is also referred to as the great toe. This is caused by the joint jamming too early in the gait cycle or an inflammatory reaction.  If you have arthritis in this toe and it is either painful and or limited in mobility, then the most important feature for your shoe will be a more rigid midsole. Secondly, you’ll want a wide toe box so that you have room for your toes to splay properly.

midsole

2. Bunion:

A bunion occurs when we lose stability in the metatarsal cuneiform joint (first ray). The first metatarsal will swing out and create a valgus position on the great toe. With a bunion, you definitely want a wide toe box. Because a bunion is caused by a lack of stability in the 1st ray, this often indicates that the foot is likely an unstable, everted foot type. In this case, a stiff heel counter in the back of the shoe will help control the foot so that it does not overpronate.

heel counter

3. Neuroma:

A neuroma is a scarred or fibrotic nerve often between the third and the fourth metatarsal. The nerve rubs on the fascial tissue and then becomes fibrotic.  This typically occurs from a loss of stability in the foot and/or compression in footwear, among other things such as injury. What will be most important with acute symptoms of a neuroma will be a stiff midsole. If the midsole is flexible, and you have an active, painful neuroma, you will continually compress the nerves at toe-off in your gait. So when your foot is more irritated, a stiffer midsole with a wide toe box will be most beneficial. 

toe box

4. Plantar plate tear:

The plantar plate is an extension of the plantar fascia that runs horizontally across the joints. A plantar plate tear can be very painful, and you’ll want to immobilize the tissue for a period of time. In this case, once again, you’ll want something more rigid in the midsole. During an acute injury, you will want to immobilize the tissue for a period of time, therefore utilizing the rigid midsole.

In certain circumstances depending on the level of forefoot pain and pathology and how it’s affecting your quality of life, a forefoot rocker is frequently recommended. If someone has advanced great toe arthritis, whether it’s fused itself or a fusion surgery has been performed, a rocker bottom shoe can be very helpful.  It can be added to the shoe or there are actually shoes that you can purchase with this specific feature.

Now for your bonus! The more cushion you have in your shoe, the more impact force you will have through your body. Picture yourself walking outside barefoot. Imagine how you would walk–your pace, your intention, your impact.  Now picture yourself doing the same walk in high cushioned shoes. Think about the difference in how you would interact with the ground. You will strike the ground much harder because you do not have the same sensory input that you would have if you were walking barefoot. 

When you have pain that is affecting your quality of life, shoes can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

If you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute virtual discovery session, please email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com or text 302-373-2394 to schedule. We’d love to help you get healthy again!

Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement, and share with anyone you think may need this.

THE SCIENCE OF KNOWING WHAT TO DO BUT NOT DOING IT | 6 Mindset Hacks

Did you ever wonder why you know exactly what you should be doing to make your life better, happier, healthier, but you don’t do it? You keep saying next week, next year, in five years, but it never really becomes a reality. We have all been there but let’s talk about the science of why that happens and what you can do about it. To put it simply, we are humans and we all have emotion. With that, we are naturally going to gravitate towards pleasure and away from pain. Say for example, Friday night rolls around, and your spouse or significant other wants to order pizza. You’ve had a long week so even though you’re planning to have a salad, you go for the pizza. Another example is sleeping in versus working out in the morning. The reality is that we consistently overcomplicate things. We make them way too complex for what they need to be.

Your subconscious mind is 99 percent of your mind. This is the house of all of your past experiences. This includes your memories, beliefs, and unresolved emotions. This is the domain of your habits. Our conscious mind, however is one percent of our mind and is responsible for our thoughts, goals, awareness of self. For us to be able to set a goal and be able to succeed at it, we have to align the subconscious mind with the conscious mind. Even though we know what we should do i.e. our conscious mind, our subconscious mind is a million times faster and much more powerful. If those two are not aligned, then unfortunately we will not be able to meet our goals or set out to do what we said we were going to do. As it relates to habits, we run our day on approximately 45 percent to 95 percent on habits.  Our thoughts are actually part of our habits. We have about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. You can hopefully appreciate that if these conscious thoughts are overpowering our conscious mind, then we are going to default to whatever is easier. We are not necessarily going to move towards the pain, we are going to move towards pleasure, whatever is the easiest thing right now. Going back to that Friday night pizza, “I’ve had a long week and I’m tired,” so I’m just going to go back to what’s comfortable and what’s easy…pleasure.

Additionally, when we get out of our comfort zone, for example setting a goal to exercise every day, this signals fear to the body. Immediately we have chemicals released that are signaling fear and danger. So guess what happens? We also want to move towards what’s easy, what’s comfortable, and what’s pleasurable. We easily will revert back and not achieve our new year’s resolution to exercise every day.

So let’s talk about six ways that you can begin to align your subconscious mind with your conscious mind, you can begin to make your goals a reality.

1) Healthful habits

You want to develop healthful habits so that when your conscious mind gets tired from all those thoughts that are racing through your head, that your subconscious mind decides to take over and do the right thing.

2) Be aware

Be aware of your thoughts, inner voice, and most importantly the language that you are speaking to yourself. If you continue to say, “I’m never really going to get strong,” then you will not get strong. You will not necessarily work out like you’re supposed to in order to get strong. So, you want to make sure that you’re in tune with the language that you’re speaking and shift it to a productive language. “I am going to work out so that I am strong.”

3) Clarity

Have clarity about what you want, what are you striving to do, and the goal(s) that you are hoping to achieve. If you do not have clarity of your vision, dream, or goal, then it will be very challenging to allow that subconscious mind to be aligned with the conscious mind.

4) Take small action steps

This is extremely important to make sure that you are making small incremental changes, especially in your habits. Think of the first time that you were told you had to brush your teeth. Since you were a young child, you’ve been brushing your teeth every single day, at least we hope so. That’s a perfect example of how habits start.

5) Consistency

It is so crucial that for you to do what you want to do, to be consistent with your habits, day in and day out. Blocking time in your schedule, for example, to allow yourself the time to be able to perform whatever it is that you need to do. Whether that’s working out, meal prepping, or meditation. Be consistent with whatever you do so that it becomes a habit, just like brushing your teeth.

6) Celebrate

Celebrate your successes! This is where we can have serotonin and dopamine responses that can improve that feeling of happiness, as well as reward and motivation. It keeps you motivated to keep doing what you’re doing to keep this habit going to make sure that it’s truly part of your life.

There are six different ways to help you align your subconscious mind with your conscious mind, allow you to achieve your goals, and do what you say you are going to do.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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Root causes of eczema

Are you experiencing eczema, or you know someone who is? Do you know how intimately connected the microbiome is to eczema and how you can begin to look at the root causes of eczema instead of just treating the symptoms?

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What is eczema?

If you have it, you know it all too well, but essentially, it’s atopic dermatitis. It can contribute to dry, itchy, red, bumpy, and scaly skin patches.

What causes eczema?

1. Altered microbiome

Research shows that there is a link with an altered microbiome in infancy that contributes to eczema. This can be dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, as well as leaky gut, i.e., intestinal permeability, that can contribute to this inflammatory condition.

What are some things that could cause an altered microbiome early on? Were you born via C-section or vaginally, breastfed or bottle-fed? Now, of course, those things you can’t change, but you want to know if that contributed to an altered microbiome right from the beginning. How was your mother’s overall microbiome? Were you exposed to antibiotics early on? When you were introduced to complementary foods? Also, did you have any other illnesses, antibiotics, or medications that could have contributed to that early on in life?

2. Food allergies

About 30 percent of children with eczema have food allergies. This could be things like soy, eggs, cow’s milk, nuts, shellfish, or gluten — all of these things can potentially be food allergies. It’s worth testing for those to really understand if that could be a root cause.

3. Nutrient deficiencies

Another root cause is nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies. Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamins A, B, C, D, and E can contribute to eczema.

4. Other conditions

Other conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, celiac disease, and secondary infections, can be associated conditions. It’s worth exploring if there’s something else other than leaky gut and nutrient deficiencies that are contributing to this inflammatory condition.

What are the other triggers of dry skin?

We can think about things like low humidity, UV radiation, chlorine, detergents, and other skin products that might be irritants. There are a lot of other things that could contribute. Let’s not forget emotional stress, too!

Emotional stress is one of the biggest inflammatory drivers. In working with patients, although I’m still trying to get to the root cause of what might be happening in their gut and microbiome, I am also absolutely addressing the stress component, which tends to exacerbate symptoms.

In summary, if you or someone you know is experiencing eczema, instead of focusing on topical solutions, it is imperative that you really begin to dive into the root cause(s).

If this is you or it’s somebody you know and love, make sure that you share this information with them. Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Are you interested in seeing how we can help you with your gut health, hormones, toxins, etc.? Schedule your evaluation here:https://p.bttr.to/351vvVU

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Why You Should Track Your HRV

Do you know that there is such a simple way to track the state of your nervous system, your resiliency, and your readiness to perform in life or sport?

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What is heart rate variability (HRV)?

Essentially, HRV is the inter-beat between the heartbeat, so it is different than your heart rate. It is a measure of the autonomic nervous system. Because of that, heart rate variability is the best way to measure vagal tone.

You’ve heard me talk many times about vagal nerve function. It’s a way for us to see how well recovered our nervous system is, therefore, how ready we are to take on life stressors. Ultimately, it plays into our emotional resilience as well.

Personally, I find that tracking heart rate variability is one of our greatest technological advancements. The fact that we can objectively measure our nervous system, to me, is simply fascinating.

How to track your HRV

First, I want to disclose that I am not an affiliate of these tracking devices, which there are many.  I have found, however, that in my personal experience and professional experience, some tools have been extremely valuable.

I personally used the Whoop watch for over three years and found that to be extremely valuable. It helped me understand the patterns of my HRV, my recovery, and how sleep, alcohol, stress, foods, and exercise affected it.

I also recommend the Oura ring, which is another great tracking device to look at not only the HRV but, of course, but all of the other things that factor into your HRV. This is great if you don’t want to wear a watch. The rings are quite fashionable, might I add.

And currently, I’m using Elite HRV, which is a chest monitor, along with a free app, that is super easy to do. Every morning, you can take your morning readiness score. You can wake up and have your chest monitor on. You can get your baseline heart rate variability and resting heart rate to be able to see what your readiness is for that day. Are you sympathetic or parasympathetic? Are you ready to perform? The Elite HRV is a really valuable tool. It’s easy to use; you don’t have to wear a watch or a ring. You can also use this for biofeedback to change your HRV before you start your day with things like paced breathing, for example.

I think all of these tools and more — Fitbits, Apple watches, Garmin — can be valuable tools.  It depends on what is most practical and appropriate for you, like wearing a watch, ring, or chest strap, for example. The goal is that you’re tracking it consistently, so finding the tracker that works for you is very important.

What is a good HRV?

This is a tough question. There is no specific number that you are trying to achieve, and that is why it’s important that you track your heart rate variability over time. There are some numbers that different companies have done research on to determine what is their average population’s heart rate variability. For example, Elite HRV has tested over 72,000 people, and they have suggested that the average HRV is around 58. This may include a more athletic population, so the heart rate variability might be higher.

Now, ultimately, a higher heart rate variability is better than a low heart rate variability for looking at average. Different populations also might have lower heart rate variabilities, so it’s really important to determine what yours is. Therefore, once again, tracking over time is necessary.

The above devices, as long as you’re consistent, will help you determine what your best heart rate variability is in addition to your best readiness score and how well your autonomic nervous system is recovered.

Tips

1. Remember that a high heart rate variability is not always a good thing, and a low heart rate variability is not always a bad thing.

Although I just mentioned that overall that’s a positive thing, just because you have an outlier of a really high number one particular day, that could actually mean that it’s signaling you may be getting sick, you’re having an immune response, or you are in a deep state of recovery. You may not be ready to perform! You may need rest and recovery.

The same applies with a low heart rate variability. It is not always a bad thing. If you had a really intense workout or a competition day, for example, you would have taxed your nervous system.

In summary, both of those are okay, and any outliers don’t necessarily mean something’s good or something’s bad.

2. Have a consistent time that you’re assessing your heart rate variability

The great thing is that most tracking devices will naturally do this. For example, with the Whoop watch and the Oura ring, you’re going to wake up in the morning and look at your HRV and other scores. With the Elite HRV, you can monitor first thing in the morning, same position, etc., to ensure consistency.

3. Track trends

Although heart rate variability by itself is a particular score, and it’s giving us information, it does not at all tell us why you have that. That’s the work you have to do!

Here are the things that you want to think about. How was your sleep last night? Did you get seven to eight hours? A lot of the tracking devices can do that as well. Do you feel well rested? Did you have a tremendous amount of stress yesterday? Did you do an intense workout yesterday? Did you not work out at all? Did you sit all day? Did you have a lot of caffeine? Did you eat really well or crappy? What kind of stress are you under? Are super busy and overwhelmed? Are you feeling like you’re just ruminating over a certain thought?

All of those things are going to factor into your nervous system and how well your nervous system is recovered.

You really want to be diligent about tracking those things, whether that’s through the device or independently, to really understand your trends. This allows you to make positive changes going forward.

In summary, heart rate variability is an amazing way to track your resilience and your recovery, and I can’t recommend it enough. I’m not suggesting you have to track forever, but you want to track until you don’t need to track anymore. You want to track until you really understand your health habits and all the things that you can control to really optimize how you feel.

I hope this was helpful. If it was, give it a like, give it a share, and subscribe to our youtube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Make sure you reach out to us for our upcoming Vagus nerve program that starts on September 19th. We would love to have you deep-dive into concepts like this and many others. Register here.

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A neck exercise that really works

Are you performing aggressive chin tucks due to your neck stiffness or neck pain with no results? Well, instead, try out this very simple and effective technique that works wonders.

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As a physical therapist for the past 12 years and being in the movement industry for my entire career, I’ve realized that chin tucks are prescribed so often, aggressively. As always, it is important to address root causes of why forward head posture is happening in the first place.  

In our previous videos and blogs, I’ve gone into more depth about forward head posture, and we have to think beyond just the mechanics of it. Is there an airway restriction? Is there emotional and nervous system dysregulation that’s contributing to poor posture? Aside from that, we want to also think about what forward head posture is doing to our nervous system.

What forward head posture does to the nervous system

Poor forward head posture can affect our vagus nerve (and other cranial nerves) and create more dysregulation in our nervous system. It can compress some of our spinal nerves as well as our cranial nerves, which have very important functions.

With that said, we have to think beyond just chin tucks and respect the nervous system.

One of my favorite basic techniques, which is a myofascial technique, stimulates the vagus nerve. It can ultimately help bring us into a better mechanical position and begin to reinforce optimal mobility in the spine.

How to perform

To perform this exercise, think about where the vagus nerve exits right behind the ear. Take both hands and place them right behind the earlobe. Traction that tissue up in the direction of the ear.

Place your hand on the tissue, move the tissue over, tractioning it up very gently, and you will almost immediately or shortly thereafter feel a sense of relaxation that could come in the form of a sigh, a swallow, or a yawn — it could just feel like a simple sense of relaxation.

You should feel like you’re actually placing the neck in a more neutral position, creating a natural lengthening of the spine.

Once you assume that position, from there, move through a gentle range of motion — forward bending, backward bending, rotation, and even side bending. What that will do is give good feedback to the nervous system because you’re actually stimulating the receptors in the joints and signaling to the brain that this is a good position. This feels safe. This feels pain-free.

Begin to incorporate this exercise frequently throughout the day. It’s easy, only about a minute, and can be very effective. 

Are you interested in seeing how we can help you with your neck pain, shoulder mobility, etc.? Schedule your 15-minute discovery session here: https://p.bttr.to/3qHXz8i

If you are ready to take action now, schedule here. https://p.bttr.to/3Qu7wRd

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

How to optimize your Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a critical vitamin and hormone that is essential for preventing many chronic conditions and improving overall immune health.

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What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is considered a hormone. After we are exposed to sunlight, our bodies synthesize Vitamin D and then activate it in the liver and the kidneys. The activated form of Vitamin D helps to regulate the metabolism of calcium.

Deficiencies in Vitamin D can contribute to many chronic conditions such as autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, preeclampsia, and muscle and joint issues. More recently, research is showing that low Vitamin D levels are associated with poor recovery from COVID-19.  Vitamin D is very essential, and it is extremely overlooked in our normal blood work panels; thus, we should have our Vitamin D levels checked yearly.

How to optimize your vitamin D

What is the first thing that you can do?

1. Have your levels checked

You want to either ask your medical provider, functional medicine provider, or registered dietitian who could direct you appropriately to getting your levels checked. Then, you want to determine where your serum Vitamin D levels fall:

  • If you’re severely deficient, your level will be under 10 ng/mL.
  • If you are deficient, you are under 30 ng/mL.
  • 30 to 50 ng/mL is suboptimal
  • Optimal is 50 to 80 ng/mL.

Many will find themselves with low Vitamin D levels, such as 30 ng/mL.  If it’s at 30, that means you’re borderline deficient. If you have a higher level of vitamin D, over 100, you can have a risk of hypercalcemia. The risk is low, but it is there. That means you are not metabolizing calcium properly and you can break down your bones.

What we’re striving for is that 50 to 80 ng/mL range. That seems to be best for innate and adaptive immunity because Vitamin D plays a role in both of those. You’re able to fight infections better and tolerate viruses and bacterial infections.

What do you do after you have your levels checked?

2. Supplementation

This is going to determine how/if you need to supplement. For example, if you are extremely deficient (30 ng/mL or under), I always recommend that my patients get a prescription dose of Vitamin D. That’s 50,000 IU once a week for at least four weeks, and then you should reassess your serum Vitamin D level. This helps you get a good idea of how well you’re absorbing your Vitamin D, and simultaneously you can start to work on some of the root causes of why you may not be absorbing this nutrient properly.

Sometimes, it’s simply you’re just not getting enough, whether that be a lack of sunlight or not consuming enough Vitamin D-rich food sources. Other times, low Vitamin D can be related to absorption.

If, after taking a prescription dose of Vitamin D for your deficiency you find your levels are still not optimal, consider the daily doses below:

<10 ng/mL – 10,000 units per day

10–20 ng/mL – 10,000 units per day

20–30 ng/mL – 8,000 units per day

30–40 ng/mL – 5,000 units per day

40–50 ng/mL – 2,000 units per day

It might take you six months to a year to figure out exactly how much you need to take. Also, it may differ during the winter months compared to the summer. However, once you’re able to figure that out with consistent testing, you should be able to maintain an optimal vitamin D level.

Sources of vitamin D

The following are rich sources of Vitamin D:

1. Cod oil

This is something you can supplement with. You can use the liquid version, gel cap version, or cod oil itself. Cod oil is one of your best sources of Vitamin D. Things like salmon, mackerel, and tuna fish are also high in Vitamin-D fish. There are other food sources, such as eggs, dairy products, and fortified foods, but they are lower in Vitamin D than cod oil.

2. Sunlight

Your natural production of Vitamin D is going to come from the sunlight. That occurs from natural pinking from the sun. This is influenced by many factors, such as your age, how much of your skin is covered, and even your skin tone. Somebody with a darker skin tone requires more Vitamin D due to their amount of melanin. Without clothing or sunblock, on average, you’re going to make about 10,000 to 15,000 IUs of Vitamin D in one pinking sun exposure.

Absorption of vitamin D

The last thing you need to consider when optimizing your Vitamin D is your absorption.

Why is it that your Vitamin D levels aren’t budging when you’re already supplementing with Vitamin D, eating the food sources, and exposing yourself to sunlight?

This is where we begin to look at other factors. Is there some kind of malabsorption occurring? Are your liver and kidneys not able to convert Vitamin D? Are you consuming enough fats? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means you must consume adequate dietary fat to help absorb this vitamin. There could be lots of different things affecting your absorption of Vitamin D, such as GI issues, like celiac or Crohn’s disease, IBS, etc. All these things might need to be considered when you’re monitoring your levels.

Vitamin D affects so many aspects of your immune system and overall health. It is necessary that we monitor, supplement as appropriate, and consume foods to optimize our health.

Are you interested in seeing how we can help you with your nutrient levels, gut health, hormones, toxins, etc.? Schedule your evaluation here: https://p.bttr.to/351vvVU

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Other things that may interest you:

Easiest way to decrease sugar cravings

Covid and the vagus nerve

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Optimize all 3 brains

We have three brains that all have complex neural networks that need to work together in sync, for us to be able to live our best lives — our heart, brain, and gut.

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The connection between the heart, brain, and the gut

You’ve definitely experienced these connections in your lives so far. For example, when you’ve had butterflies in your stomach, when you were nervous to speak in front of people, or when you just followed your heart and made a decision based on that. 

There are so many instances where you have felt and experienced these deep connections. And these three brains, these three independent nervous systems, our heart, our brain, and our gut, are so powerful in how we communicate, listen, and make decisions.  

The brain

We have our first brain, which has billions of neurons that are constantly creating new wiring and information. It allows us to be able to have memory, communicate, have language, and to be able to have conscious thought and perception. It’s also where our limbic system is, the emotional center of our brain. 

Gut

Our second nervous system, our gut, is responsible for digestion and all of the metabolic functions associated with that. The gut allows us to absorb and process the nutrients we get from our food. It’s not only important for all the different enzymatic reactions in the body, but it also has neurotransmitters like serotonin. 

Ninety percent of our serotonin, for example, is in our gut and is formed by the bacteria in the gut microbiome. 

The gut has a huge role in hormonal and immune function, too. 

Heart

Our heart functions independently outside of the brain. We have numerous electrical and chemical reactions happening. Our heart brain acts as our emotional center. As mentioned previously, when we “follow our heart,” we are “following our emotions.” 

The common link between the three brains

What is the common link among all three of these nervous systems? The vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is the common connection. It exits the brainstem, moves into the carotid sinus of the heart, the SA node of the heart, and then innervates the entire digestive tract. This is the common link where more information comes from the viscera to the brain, called afferent information. 

How to optimize the three brains

The one simple way that we can optimize all three of these brains at the same time is diaphragmatic breathing.

There are so many different types of breathing, such as pranayama breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, and box breathing.

The key is diaphragmatic breathing.  Place the tongue at the roof of the mouth, gently touching the top teeth. Inhaling through the nose, allowing the abdomen to expand 360 degrees, and exhaling through the nose, letting the belly button move towards the spine, allowing the abdomen to contract and the ribs to come down. You could do this seated or lying down, whichever you prefer.  

Tapping into our most optimal breathing pattern (ideally, you’re working towards 5.5 seconds in and 5.5 seconds out) is where we really get a lot of benefit from diaphragmatic breathing; we are stimulating the vagus nerve.

Stimulating the vagus nerve creates a release of acetylcholine, which creates that relaxation response. We are creating GI motility because the diaphragm moves down into the abdomen as you inhale, and as you exhale, the diaphragm moves back up. Think of it like you’re massaging the vagus nerve. 

Of course, as it relates to the relaxation response, you’re creating a calming effect here, so we’re not in that fight or flight limbic system, but we can move more towards our prefrontal cortex in our brain, where we have more insight and rationale, while we are able to consciously and deliberately make better decisions. We’re able to listen more attentively.

Diaphragmatic breathing, I always say, is your superpower; you have it within you, so please make sure to use this throughout your day, regularly and repeatedly. I tell my patients to take three diaphragmatic breaths every hour.

To one connect all these brains, bring yourself to a parasympathetic state through breathing so that you can think and act more clearly and respond rather than react. 

If you need help with your overall health, please schedule your discovery session here: https://p.bttr.to/3qHXz8i

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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7 of the best foot hacks

Not only is our foot our foundation for human movement, but it is also a powerful neuromuscular structure that gives our brain constant information. This happens through the skin on the bottom of the feet. 

Here are seven different ways you can optimize your foot health that can be easily integrated into your daily life.

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What do you need to know about the foot

As I mentioned, from a biomechanical standpoint, we want to think of our foot as our foundation for human movement. If our foot is not stable and does not provide a stable foundation, the rest of your kinetic chain will be affected.

When we think of the foot from the neuromuscular standpoint, we want to think about the skin on the bottom of the foot. We have 104 different receptors, which are actually stimulated by different external stimuli: deep pressure, texture, skin stretch, and vibration.  

The information coming in through the skin on the bottom of the feet via these receptors goes to the brain, even passing through the emotional center of our brain.  

When we wear shoes and socks, we block this powerful information that’s coming into our nervous system. It is imperative that we focus on stimulating our feet to move, walk, balance, and live better. 

7 of the best foot hacks

#1. Foot release

There are lots of different tools that you can use, including rad balls or a neuro ball by Naboso. Hold the ball under the specific points of the foot for approximately 20 to 30 seconds. You can do longer, ensuring there’s no pain. Allow the foot to naturally relax over the ball. This will stimulate some of the receptors in the bottom of the foot that respond to deep pressure and release tension in your feet.

An easy way to incorporate this into your life is to perform this while brushing your teeth or cooking. That way, you’re stimulating your feet, creating more mobility and elasticity, while simultaneously doing something else. 

#2. Splay

Use splay in your feet. During the toe-off in your gait cycle, females toes should splay  approximately three millimeters; for men, five millimeters. When we wear shoes that have a narrow toe box, it prevents proper splay. This affects the ability of the foot to create a rigid lever to be able to push off from. Ultimately, that’s how we transfer force.

Instead of wearing compressive shoes, which we’ll get into in just a moment, we want to think of trying to create space in forefoot. Try Naboso Splay 30 minutes each night, maybe while you’re relaxing or watching TV; that’s a great opportunity to incorporate this. 

If you have a bunion, you’ll want to address that, too. You won’t fix the bunion by using a toe spacer, but you can use something like a bunion spacer between your first and second metatarsal to realign your first toe and bring it in a more neutral position for push-off in your gait cycle. 

#3. Naboso insole

Naboso is an evidence-based technology that stimulates the small nerves on the bottom of the feet, specifically the Merkel disc. I highly recommend wearing the insoles for constant stimulation in your shoes. 

There are different variations of Naboso insoles. There’s activation performance, neuro, and duo — all of them may be a little bit different based on your needs, but really powerful ways to stimulate your feet while wearing shoes. 

#4. Varied surfaces

You can build a rock mat and stand on that while you’re getting ready in the morning. You can get river stones that are a little bit softer; you can also get little pebbles depending on your tolerance and work up a tolerance over time. Walking outside in the grass, on stones, and on different surfaces really allows you to adapt to different stimuli. You can also use Naboso technology mats.

Yoga mats, for example, decreases your balance and stability.

#5. Short foot

Train your feet! Instead of wearing shoes, socks, and orthotics and losing stability over time, you want to train your feet. That can start with slowly increasing your barefoot tolerance, stimulating the feet and allowing them to do what they are meant to do. We can also intentionally train them, which is called short foot.

As you’re performing this exercise, it really is about sequencing the foot to the core. It’s about connecting all of the fascia in the foot and the muscles in the foot all the way up to the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the hip stabilizers. It isn’t just simply a foot exercise, but it’s ultimately how we are stabilizing during dynamic movement.

To perform short foot, you start on one leg, and you can place your foot in a neutral position. You can begin with a kickstand, and from here, inhale through the nose, allowing your foot to relax. As you exhale, root the tips of your toes into the ground. This will lift the arch of the foot and the ball of the foot slightly as you perform this exercise. 

Once you feel comfortable, then you move up onto one leg and perform the same. You perform approximately eight breaths before you move on. 

#6. Footwear 

Next is enhancing your natural foot function with proper footwear. Unfortunately, as I said, as it relates to our feet, we tend to block all this powerful information with shoes, socks, orthotics, and cushion.

The shoe should be able to twist just like the foot does. The foot has to spiral. The midsole should bend unless you have some type of forefoot pathology such as great toe arthritis or neuromas.  

The more cushion we have, the more impact force we have coming in through our body because we are hitting the ground harder. 

More cushion and more support is actually not good despite what the shoe industry tries to push for. You can SLOWLY transition to less supportive shoes as you do more intentional footwork. Ultimately, you want to get to a point where you are enhancing your natural foot function. 

#7. Barefoot time

Lastly is increasing barefoot tolerance. If you’re somebody that wears shoes and socks at home all the time, you must go really slow. If you are already barefoot all the time, you’re off to a great start. 

Start with about five minutes. Whether you are scared to go barefoot, or your podiatrist told you to never go barefoot, whatever the case may be, go very slowly while building tolerance and a sense of safety over time. 

If it’s extremely fearful and scary for you, then you have to respect that. Start with one to two minutes at a time. Keeping all of these nerves stimulated is one of the keys to preventing falls as we age so that we can prevent any kind of major accident as we age.

I could go on and on about feet, but hopefully, these seven hacks were helpful.

If you are interested in learning more about your feet and what your foot needs, then please reach out to us. We are trained through EBFA Global as barefoot rehabilitation specialists.

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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Easiest way to decrease sugar cravings

Do you want to know one of the simplest ways to combat sugar cravings? Protein.

So many of you most likely have some kind of sugar cravings. Well, most often, these can be caused by three different things.

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Number one is blood sugar dysregulation. This can be caused by a high glycemic diet, poor macronutrient balance, or poor timing of meals.

The second is a bacterial imbalance and fungal overgrowth.  The bacteria itself can actually crave carbohydrates. Yeast overgrowth can contribute to sugar cravings as well.

The third is a dopamine response. Sugar can affect us like a drug, cigarettes, or alcohol.

Because of all these three variables, we need to make sure that we are combating these cravings through one very simple thing, optimal protein intake.

How to decrease sugar cravings with protein

We do want to make sure that we clarify the type of protein. If we compare a cup of fish to a cup of rice and beans, the cup of rice and beans has approximately 375 calories, 42 grams of carbohydrates, and only 12 grams of protein, compared to one cup of fish, which has 175 calories and approximately 42 grams of high-quality protein.

So, you can see and hopefully appreciate that the protein content is very important. When comparing animal protein to plant-based protein, you’re going to have a lot more carbohydrates that can contribute to, for some people, more sugar cravings compared to high-quality clean protein sources that are low-calorie.

The key thing to remember about protein is that it provides more satiety — a sense of fullness. Therefore, it’s great to eat your protein first in your meal which is ideally comprised of a protein, a fat, and a fiber source. Eating the protein first will most likely cause you to eat less in volume and calories and also have less cravings.

Eating protein throughout the day in balanced proportions, approximately 30 to 50 grams of protein per meal, depending on your weight, will provide optimal blood sugar regulation. If you’re having, let’s say, white rice or another higher glycemic carbohydrate, by having protein with it, it will decrease the glycemic index of the meal.

How much protein should you have?

Thirty to 50 grams per meal of high-quality protein is key for optimal health, especially preservation of our lean muscle mass, which is necessary for longevity. But if we want to dive a little bit deeper into that, in an ideal world, it would be 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Here’s the take-home message: eating more high-quality protein consistently throughout your day, at least 30 grams per meal, is vital for decreasing sugar cravings.

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Other things that may interest you:

Covid and the vagus nerve

Peeing yourself during heavy lifting is not okay

9 root causes of acne

Covid and the vagus nerve

At this point, you may know someone who has experienced long-haul COVID, or perhaps you know somebody that’s had some type of adverse event occurring from the vaccine. Many times this presents as neurological symptoms and therefore is important to discuss the connection between the vagus nerve and COVID.

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The connection between the vagus nerve and covid

Patients with long COVID  may have had swallowing issues, headaches, blood pressure dysregulation, shortness of breath, difficulty with digestion, and more. All of these things can be directly linked to the vagus nerve.

At this point, we’re well aware that the COVID virus (SARS Covid-2) can affect the nervous system. The vagus nerve exits the brain stem, branches into the throat, affecting our swallowing, branches into the ear, and moves down to innervate our SA node of the heart and into the entire digestive tract, thus considered one of the most powerful nerves in the body.

If the nerve is inflamed, that can affect a whole host of nervous system functions, specifically our autonomic nervous system. There’s preliminary research in small subject samples looking at exactly how this is happening. So, with ultrasound, it’s showing the vagus nerve as it exits of the neck, is demonstrating some thickening and reactive tissue signaling, indicating that there’s inflammation in the nerve.

As we can see, this can cause a lot of different symptoms. Because of the innervations and the anatomy of the vagus nerve, you could have everything from dizziness and blood pressure dysregulation to heart palpitations and digestive issues. Even more obvious is the impact on mood, anxiety, and depression. The vagus nerve is 80 percent of our parasympathetic nervous system, our ‘rest and digest’ state.

Additionally, what’s very interesting is as it relates to the adverse events reported from the vaccine, there are numerous cases of neurological type symptoms that can present very similarly. Headaches, swallowing issues, and ear pain have been reported more frequently in females than males as it relates to post-vaccine injuries, yet so much of it is under-reported. Still, there are over 800,000 cases of adverse events, many of them neurological in nature.

Now when you’re beginning to assess the symptoms that you may have had over the past few years during this time of the pandemic, you begin to look at what precipitated. How was your health before the COVID hit? Did you have COVID? Did you have covid multiple times? Did you have a vaccine? Did you have boosters? All of these things should be factored in when assessing your recent health history.

Here’s the most important thing: whether you had COVID and/or you had some type of adverse event from the vaccine, your body is designed to heal itself. If you are focusing on what is driving inflammation for you, whether that’s food, bugs, viruses, hormones, stress, and so on, you can heal. Whether it’s a virus, bacteria, or a parasite, you can absolutely get to the root cause.

Please know that there’s always hope, and there’s always a way to get better.

If you check out all of my vagus nerve hacks, those are simply a way to begin to regulate your nervous system, improve your vagal tone, and thereby decrease inflammation in your body.

Interested in our upcoming 6-week online vagus nerve program? Register here: https://px9bh0on.pages.infusionsoft.net/

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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Peeing yourself during heavy lifting is not okay

No, peeing yourself by lifting heavy weights is not normal! There are numerous posts floating around social media that are making light of the fact that women (and men) performing heavy lifting are peeing themselves. This is purely information that we need more pelvic health education.

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We have three different layers of the pelvic floor which are part of the intrinsic stabilizing unit of our core. This system is based on pressure management.

At the top of our core, we have our diaphragm. As we inhale, the intra-abdominal pressure that’s built up from the diaphragm as it descends continues to move down to the pelvic floor. Initially, as we inhale, the pelvic floor relaxes. As we exhale, the pelvic floor is gently lifting (contracting). This is simply a normal function of our diaphragm and pelvic floor. It also involves our transverse abdominis, which is our natural weight belt. As we inhale, the transverse abdominis lengthen and eccentrically contract. As we exhale, we’re creating a corset as it contracts.

If there is an imbalance in the pressure management in the core at a basic level, then when going under heavy loads, the pelvic floor cannot support this amount of pressure.

3 Key Reasons Why You Have Dysfunctional Pelvic Floor During Lifting

There are three key reasons why you have dysfunction of the pelvic floor during lifting. If you can understand and appreciate the anatomy, then these are all going to make sense. 

1. Shallow Breathing

We breathe about 25,000 times a day. If you are breathing from your neck and shoulders on a day-to-day basis, then this will create downward pressure on the pelvic floor.

Breathing from the neck and shoulders creates a reverse breathing pattern. When you inhale, everything is lifting, and as you exhale, the belly comes out. We have to be able to breathe optimally, which means as you inhale, you have 360 degrees of pressure in the abdomen, all the way down to the pelvic floor.

During exhalation, allow the abdomen to contract and bring the belly button towards the spine. Coordinating your breathing pattern during dynamic movements or heavy lifting is essential. 

2. Breath Holding

When doing something like a heavy deadlift or squat, you are performing a Valsalva maneuver which can effectively increase intra-abdominal pressure and can help with spine stability and trunk rigidity.

If you have an over dominance of your outer core muscles (think six-pack muscles) and a lack of stability in our deep stabilizers, which are the diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, and the multifidi, then that can create significant downward pressure on the pelvic floor. That can cause dysfunction in our pelvic floor and result in urination during lifting.

3. Doming 

This is also caused by instability in the deep core. The way that we would test this is to lie on your back, bring your knees up, and see what happens to your abdomen. Many times the abdomen will dome immediately. Sometimes that could be due to diastasis recti. It can simply be that there is poor intrinsic stabilization (deep core).  If you’re trying to do heavy lifting without proper stabilization and coordination of intraabdominal pressure, then, unfortunately, it can result in a lot of pelvic floor dysfunction. 

What can you do

One of your easiest takehomes from this is to begin working on breathing coordination with your deep core. As you breathe in through the nose, allow the abdomen to expand 360 degrees all the way down to the pelvic floor. As you exhale, you can focus on an active exhalation, pulling the belly button towards the spine.

This creates more of an abdominal brace. Work on the coordination, sequencing, and timing of all of these important muscles. Then begin to integrate that into dynamic movements. When you get into heavy lifting, you will need to learn how to maintain your pressure while you are doing a lift.

If you don’t have good coordination, to begin with, and you’re trying to manage pressure at a high level, it’s not going to work out so well.  If you have been lifting for years, implement this newfound knowledge and awareness of your pelvic floor, diaphragm, and coordination among all of your deep core muscles. 

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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9 root causes of acne

Are you someone who suffers from acne — perhaps on your face, on your back, even on your arms? Maybe you’ve had it since puberty and still have not resolved it.

We’re going to dive into the gut-skin axis today and some of the reasons why you need to look inside as opposed to simply just putting on things on the outside — from a logical standpoint — or even taking medications to reduce it.

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What you need to know about acne

As it relates to the gut-skin axis, referring to the gut microbiome and its influence on the skin, we want to remember that our gut is 70 percent of our immune system. Therefore, inflammatory skin disorders can be associated with dysbiosis in the gut. 

Acne vulgaris presents as follicular hyperkeratinization, increased sebum production, and Propionibacterium.

Now we’re going to dive into nine root causes of acne that are definitely worth exploring in your journey to resolving this.

9 causes of acne

1. Hormonal changes

Acne will often present itself during puberty initially, but it can also present in things like PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. We want to recognize that any kind of hormonal imbalance can contribute to this, so diving into why you are having hormonal imbalances is imperative.

2. Increase insulin and insulin-like growth factor

This can ultimately increase the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris and affect how follicular inflammation occurs. It is important to recognize that things like the regulation of blood sugar and, of course, how we eat throughout the day can influence acne.

3. High glycemic diet

This is often associated with our Western or Standard American Diet or SAD diet. Increased processed foods and increased sugar-rich foods can contribute to an environment where acne can flourish because it increases sebum production.

4. Alterations to the gut microbiome

This can present as intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), leaky gut (intestinal permeability), and other conditions, all of which can create inflammation systemically and contribute to acne.

Remember, 70 percent of our immune system is in our gut in the GALT (gut-associated lymphoid tissue), so dysbiosis can drive inflammation anywhere in your body.

5. Increased levels of linoleic acid

When we think about our ratio of omega-3s to 6, we often have way more 6s than the 3s. It’s not that omega-6s aren’t important. We just need an optimal balance.

Vegetable oils like peanut oil, corn, and palm oil in processed foods can contribute to advanced glycolytic end products which increase oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby potentially increasing acne.

6. Whey protein

This is really common! One of my number one things to explore immediately with anyone suffering from acne: whey protein. Whey is found in our dairy products, and whey can be a big trigger for acne. It doesn’t mean it is for everyone, but it is absolutely worth doing a formal elimination diet of dairy at the minimum and then reintroducing it to see if it is one of the drivers for you.

7. Low stomach acid

It’s estimated that approximately 40 percent of people that suffer from acne have low stomach acid. This can contribute to how we are breaking down proteins specifically, which is very common. 

8. Nutrient deficiencies

Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, vitamin A, E, zinc, B6, and selenium can contribute to acne. It’s very important to do a nutrient analysis to determine how much of each nutrient you are getting on a daily basis.

9. Toxins

We are exposed to so many toxins on a regular basis. Dioxin is one of the toxins that is

considered a persistent organic pollutant that can contribute to acne. We do want to factor in other environmental exposures as well. 

In summary, when dealing with acne, look beyond Accutane and topical solutions. Assess your gut-skin axis.

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