How To Assess and Treat Your Scars

Did you know that your scars, whether from surgeries, falls, or even tattoos, can provide significant psychological and functional consequences? The great thing is that scars are a normal part of healing, but what happens is our collagen fibers that are normally aligned in a parallel fashion, lay down in a haphazard direction. Because of this, the myofascial tissue is much stronger, however, it is not as elastic and typically not as functional.

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Our fascial tissue is considered our ectoskeleton—the glue that holds us together. It surrounds all of our muscles and organs. It has seven times more sensory nerves than our muscles do. Therefore, these scars are very sensory driven so they can disrupt the information coming from our tissue to our brain. Ultimately that can change different types of movement patterns that might be happening in the body, contributing to pain or even injury.

For example, if you have had a C-section or other type of abdominal surgery, the scars and adhesions from that can affect how the deep core is stabilizing as an integrated unit. This will affect the transverse abdominous, diaphragm, pelvic floor, and so on.

If you’ve had back surgery and you have scars in the back that can attribute to how the tissues around the spine are stabilizing and firing. If you’ve had a chemo port scar, that can attribute to the way that your shoulder is firing. The list goes on. You want to just recognize that scars are a very integral part of a movement and it’s something that can be assessed and addressed.

What To Look For When Assessing Your Scars

Here are some things to look for when assessing your scars:

1) Color – Red or white?

2) Scar height – What is the thickness?

3) Pliability – How extensible is the tissue? You can move your scar in different directions to see which direction is more restricted.

4) Surface texture – How does the scar feel overall as you glide over the tissue?

5) Sensitivity

6) What is the story that it tells? 

After you’ve assessed your scar, the next step would be to begin to treat it. You want to think of this as a very gentle, yet intentional approach.

How To Treat Your Scars

Here is how to treat your scars:

1) Desensitization

You can use a washcloth and just gently rub it over the scar. That is to desensitize any type of hypersensitive scar if you found it to be painful. 

2) Feathering and Gliding

This is used as a great general technique to warm up and relax the tissue.

3) Smudging Technique

After you’ve done that, if needed, then you can begin by a basic smudging technique where you put pressure with your hand into the skin and you’re moving the skin over the tissue. You are moving the skin gently in the direction where it felt more restricted and hold that for a period of time.

4) Circles

Then you could do gentle circles on the scar as well as around the scar to make sure you improve the elasticity of the scar.

5) Long Holds

Lastly, long holds can be used when there are noted restrictions in the elasticity of the tissue.

6) Rocktape

You can also use rock tape.

Remember when working on scars we are not breaking up the tissue. Forces over 2,000 pounds per square inch are needed in order to actually break up the tissue.  What you are doing is helping to make the tissue more elastic and pliable. You are also helping to reorganize those collagen fibers so that they are aligned properly as opposed to that haphazard direction. This can help improve how the tissue is moving in that general vicinity and beyond. 

7) Integration 

The last step is integration. You want to integrate whatever type of scar work you did into healthy mindful intentional movement. For example, if you were doing some type of scar work on the abdomen, you would want to do breathwork perhaps pelvic floor activation, and then some type of integration into an actual movement where you can put all those things together. This could be something like a dead bug exercise, bird dog exercise, or some kind of basic stabilization exercise. 

Now you know how to assess your scar, as well as treat it.

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3 Ways To Improve Your Lymphatic System

Did you know that the lymphatic system is one of the most powerful, yet neglected systems in the body, and it is crucial to our immune health?

As we already know 90% of all chronic disease is linked to excessive or persistent inflammation. How do we get rid of inflammation? Primarily through our lymphatic system, as well as our other detoxification organs. These can include things like our liver, kidney, lungs, tongue, fat, skin, and more. 

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Now let’s compare our lymphatic system to an aquarium. All of our bones, ligaments, joints, muscles, and organs are bathing inside of this lymph tissue. Let’s say that our lymph is the aquarium and if this aquarium happens to be unfiltered, toxic, and full of pathogens, then, unfortunately, all of those things within the lymph tissue are also going to be negatively affected. This means that we’re not getting the proper nutrients to our cells. That’s when we can have cell death and inflammation. This is what contributes to chronic disease.

So how is our lymph system negatively affected? First and foremost, our food and agricultural industry has changed dramatically since post-World War II. We have more GMOs, toxins, herbicides, pesticides, and we are constantly being bombarded with these things on a regular basis. That, in combination with the choices that we make and our lifestyle factors, such as eating a standard American diet, not exercising, and not getting enough sleep. All of these things can impact our lymphatic system. 

3 Ways To Improve Your Lymphatic System

Now let’s discuss three ways to improve your lymphatic system.

1) Diaphragmatic Breathing

 As we are diaphragmatically breathing, the diaphragm acts as a respiratory pump that pumps the lymph to the cisterna chyli, which is one of our major lymphatic ducts and drainage locations. This is located at the center of our abdomen. Breathing diaphragmatically 20,000 to 25,000 times a day is ideal. If you’re breathing more from your neck and shoulders, you can begin to slowly change your breathing pattern by starting with taking three nice slow diaphragmatic breaths every hour and building up to more.

2) Movement 

Movement is one of the key things that move our lymph. Sedentary lifestyles will be correlated with stagnant lymph. Think about every hour trying to get up, take a walk, move around, do some squats or push-ups, any type of mobility or stability work, or just any type of movement that you can do consistently. This is not sitting all day and then exercising for one hour. Instead, think of moving most hours of each day. 

3) Lymphatic Drainage

This can be a very powerful way to stimulate your lymphatic system. You’ll want to tiptoe the system and not go too fast too soon. You want to go slow with your lymphatic drainage and make sure you let your body adjust so that hopefully you can continue to progress.

How To Perform Lymphatic Drainage

To begin the lymph drainage, you will start by using a feather-light technique for five seconds, then faster deeper for five seconds, then tapping for three, and then pull in the direction of your heart for three. You want to start right above the left collarbone and then move to the right collarbone. Next, proceed to the following areas: pecs and axilla, abdomen, the inguinal area, inside the groin, behind the knee, and then inside the ankle. Make sure to always pull in the direction of your heart, and to always perform on both sides starting on the left side.

Face Lymph Drainage

The next progression is the face lymph drainage, which you will use a toothbrush. You will start with the left collarbone with the same technique of feather-light for five, faster deeper for five, tapping for three, and then pulling in the direction of the heart for three. Make sure to always start on the left side and perform on each side. After performing this above each collarbone, move to under the jaw, then lateral jaw, then next to the nasolabial lines, then the temple area, and then lastly the occipital area (you can just use your hands for this area). 

Dry Brushing Technique

The next progression is a dry brushing technique. You’ll start by clearing the left supraclavicular area. You can do this just by tapping. Then you’ll start with your feet and lower leg, brushing in long, slow strokes up towards the direction of your heart. Make sure to get behind the knee in that popliteal area and then move to the other leg. Once again, several strokes in each area.

Next move to the inguinal area moving up toward the direction of your heart. Then move to the abdomen, you can just do circles around your belly button. Next, move to the glutes and then to the low back. Next, move to the arms starting from the fingertips, and make sure you go through the axilla and pec area. Lastly, moving to the upper back. Once again make sure to perform on each side. You can do this right before your shower. 

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Breathing Before Eating

If you are experiencing acid reflux, bloating, constipation, or poor digestion, then this vagus nerve hack is definitely for you.

In order to have optimal digestion, we need a lot of blood flow to our digestive tract. When we are in a fight or flight state, or a stressed state, the blood is moving away from our digestive system which will slow gastric motility.

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Why perform diaphragmatic breathing?

Performing diaphragmatic breathing before you eat will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby improving your digestion.

We breathe 20,000 to 25,000 times a day. So, when we are breathing from our neck and shoulder muscles and not allowing our ribcage to expand with each breath, our diaphragm becomes restricted. Since the esophagus passes through the diaphragm, it will become restricted as well, which can cause symptoms such as acid reflux.

We want to optimize the bi-directional communication between our gut and brain since 80% of that afferent information is coming from the gut up to the brain. We do this by diaphragmatically breathing.

This means when you inhale, you have a full 360 degrees of pressure through the abdomen, and when you exhale your belly button goes toward your spine. This will help to calm the nervous system down prior to eating by stimulating the vagus nerve and releasing acetylcholine to create a sense of calmness.

Simply taking 3-10 diaphragmatic breaths before you eat will help with your digestion tremendously.

It is important to calm the nervous system before eating so that we can truly rest and digest.

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Stop Stretching Your Hamstrings

Have you been stretching the heck out of your hamstrings for years with no improvement?

Most people think that when we are stretching, we are lengthening the muscle. Unfortunately, that is not true. What we are doing is creating the neurophysiological response to convince our nervous system that we are safe in a new range.

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What is actually happening when you stretch?

When we are stretching too far, especially in the case of hamstrings, you have proprioceptors in the muscle fibers that signal to the brain to tell it, “Hey, this is a vulnerable position.”

We also have a stretch reflex that functions as a protective mechanism that you’re going too far. So when you begin to have this pain, irritation, or a sense of discomfort when you’re stretching, that means that you are not making a change. We have to think about changing our nervous system, so let’s get into how to do that.

Let’s use the classic toe touch test as our example. When we are touching our toes and reaching down, what ideally happens is that the pelvis shifts backward which allows for a uniform curve in our spine.

Most people that can’t touch their toes will see all of their motion is coming from their spine and there is no motion coming from the pelvis. That means that they’re not getting a natural sequencing in flexion, or forward bending, pattern. To change that pattern, we have to think about how is the pelvis and trunk sequencing with the rest of the body.

One of the most basic things from a biomechanical standpoint is to look at the position of the pelvis. Ideally, in a neutral position, we have our rib cage stacked over top of our pelvis. If our pelvis is tilted forward, an anterior pelvic tilt, or it’s tilted backward a posterior tilt, this changes the length of our hamstrings.

Our hamstrings, just like any other muscles, contract, relax and lengthen. When they are in the lengthened position, it might present as a tightness but doesn’t mean they are tight, and in fact, might need to be strengthened.

Essentially when we have one of these pelvic positions, then that means that our deep intrinsic stabilizing system, our pelvic floor, diaphragm, and our deep stabilizers of our core are not sequencing well.

If they’re not doing their job, including the deep stabilizers of the hip, then our glutes can never really produce the appropriate amount of force. We have to have enough stability to be able to generate force through our glutes.

So what happens if we’re not using our glute and we’re not using our core properly? Then, the hamstrings present as tight because we’re having a global tightness or facilitation from our nervous system. Our nervous system is saying “Hey, I have to tighten up something to create some stiffness somewhere.”

So what can you do?

Reestablish your breathing and pelvic position. Using a diaphragmatic breath, breathing into the base of the abdomen, all the way into the pelvic floor, and getting that ribcage stacked over the pelvis. It is important to do this in a variety of different movements and patterns. Everything from standing, sitting, quadruped, and lying on the ground; establishing this and integrating it into all of your movements and activities.

Here are a few things that you could do, most importantly reestablishing new movement patterns, especially a posterior weight shift of the pelvis. Allowing for proper sequencing in the pelvis reinforces that your nervous system isn’t in protective mode all the time, using hamstring stiffness as a way to protect your body.

3 Exercises To Establish New Movement Pattern

Here are some exercises you can perform to help you establish this new movement pattern.

1. Rock on Forearms

To perform this exercise, place your elbows and knees wide on the ground. Inhale as you rock back, only bending from the hips and keeping the spine straight. Exhale as you return slightly over your shoulders.

2. Hip Hinge

For the hip hinge, place a dowel behind your back touching your pelvis, middle of your shoulder blades, and your head. Inhale as you go down, hinging in your hips backward and allowing the knees to bend softly. Exhale as you come up.

3. Toe Touch Progression

For the toe touch progression place a block between your thighs and start with your toes elevated. Inhale as you reach up, and exhale as you reach down to touch your toes. Then you’ll reverse the direction by putting your heels up on the board and toes down, and performing the same thing. This creates a natural posterior weight shift in the pelvis and activates the deep core.

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Chew Your Food To Heal Your Gut

Do you experience bloating, digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, and/or just don’t feel right after a meal? Did you know how important chewing is in your digestive process and how it could help heal your gut?

In order for us to have proper digestion, we have to be in a parasympathetic state; think rest and digest. If we are in a fight or flight mode, for example, our blood flow is moving away from our digestive system.

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Chewing is one of the things that actually helps calm the nervous system. That is one important aspect of why we want to chew our food very well before digesting it. The saliva that is produced in the salivary glands produces digestive enzymes, and these enzymes help break down the food in the mouth, and as it moves into the esophagus.

The first enzyme is called lingual lipase which helps break down our fats. The second is amylase which helps break down our starches. And the third is called lysozyme, which is an antibacterial enzyme. This is important for preventing dental cavities and other infections in the gums.

The more chewing that we do, the more salivary enzymes are released. This influences not only our autonomic nervous system because we need these specific cranial nerves for chewing and swallowing, but it’s also influencing the enteric nervous system, which is our gut. That is, in fact, its own nervous system.

So when this is happening, we’re getting an increase in smooth muscle contraction, intestinal secretions, the release of some of these enteric hormones, and dilation of blood vessels. It is very powerful when we begin the process of chewing thoroughly. 

5 Things You Can Do To Maximize Chewing

What are five different things you can do to maximize your chewing, and digestive process?

1) Breathe

Before you sit down to eat, try taking at least three diaphragmatic breaths. You want to think of calming your nervous system, bringing blood flow to this area, and bringing yourself to this parasympathetic state so that you can enhance your digestive process. 

2) Allow for at Least 30 Minutes of Meal Time

Give yourself plenty of time to be able to sit down, eat your meal, and enjoy the experience rather than rushing your meal. This will also prevent you from overeating because you’re giving your body enough time to tell the brain that you are full. 

3) Non-judgement

This is a mindfulness practice, but it’s also important for digestion. When we’re judging ourselves, our food, and the environment, unfortunately, we are typically not totally present, and we’re not being mindful of our food. That often takes us out of that parasympathetic state. So, encouraging a positive eating experience lends itself to optimal digestion. 

4) Avoid Water Before Meals

Drinking water before meals can dilute the stomach acids, so it optimizes our natural enzymatic activity. 

5) Chew 20-30 Times

Chew your food at least 20 to 30 times. In our Ayurvedic medicine, chewing at least 30 times has been extremely beneficial.

 If you’re thinking about healing your gut, start with chewing your food.

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Hand Reflexology

Research has shown that reflexology directly stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Eighty percent of our parasympathetic nervous system is our vagus nerve, so it can help with heart rate, digestion, and overall relaxation.

Reflexology is based on the Chinese medicine belief in Qi which is our vital energy. Qi flows through our bodies differently, but when we are stressed, it tends to be blocked, and it can be blocked in certain areas of the body.

In Chinese medicine, different parts of our body correlate with different specific reflexology or pressure points. The vagus nerve point for your hand is right inside of the pinky, for example. This is great because it’s so accessible during the course of your day.

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How can you stimulate the vagus nerve via this hand reflexology point?

Place pressure on the inside of your 5th finger, your pinky. Start with a sustained pressure for approximately 30 to 60 seconds.

After that, make small circles in that area, while keeping pressure on the skin.

Lastly, you can use feather-light strokes back and forth. You can perform this for 30 to 60 seconds.

You might notice that as you’re doing this, you may experience some form of relaxation. This could be a yawn, sigh, swallow, or simply a sense of calmness.

Just like all of the other hacks that we have spoken about thus far, this is yet another simple way for you to regulate your nervous system during the day. Anytime you’re feeling stressed, you can easily do one of these three techniques, or all of them, to create a relaxation response. If this was helpful, please make sure to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

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Why You Shouldn’t R.I.C.E.

I’m sure that you’ve had an injury in your lifetime where you grabbed some ice and rested it. You should know that R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is outdated and better yet, how you should address your injuries.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin coined the term RICE in 1978. This is a term that has been popularized for years and years, and this is still what most people think of when they think of treating an acute injury.

At this point, we have way too much research and knowledge about the human body to know that this is not at all how we should treat injuries. Even Dr. Mirkin himself, many years later, has been humble enough to say that this is not the most effective way that we should be addressing acute injuries, and that there is a lot of science about how we should use the body’s natural ability to manage inflammation to maximize our healing. 

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Inflammation is our natural defense and repair mechanism. An acute injury is about the first four to five days of an injury. Inflammation is important so it is necessary that we maximize the initial stage of healing, rather than delay it.

When we have swelling after an injury, that indicates that our immune system is kicking in gear. These inflammatory cells called macrophages are going to release what’s called insulin-like growth factor and this is what comes into the area to help repair the tissue. What do we need for this to happen? We need blood flow. We need blood flow to bring these inflammatory cells to help repair the damaged tissue.

What Does Ice Do?

So what does ice do? Ice constricts our blood vessels, which decreases blood flow to the area. Remember, the only way that we can manage this initial inflammatory response and manage healing is through blood flow. In fact, when we apply ice to the injured area, these blood vessels actually cut off blood flow for hours afterward, delaying this entire repair mechanism. The only thing that it may do for you is it may decrease pain. However, it can interfere with your brain’s signaling to that area. Nociception is our pain response that is signaling from the tissue to the brain. Although it might temporarily feel better, you are having a true delay in healing. 

So now that we understand a little bit more about inflammation and ice, we should be able to recognize that ice does not, in fact, decrease inflammation. Conversely, we need to eliminate ice to promote the inflammatory period, our first stage of healing, to be able to repair the tissues. Now we know that we don’t want to ice, and we don’t want to rest. So what are some things that you can do with an acute injury?

What To Do With Acute Injury

1) Move                                                 

This is very important. We want to use movement, and optimal loading of the tissue, while managing pain, to provide blood flow to the area. We want to respect the tissue and the body, but you want to continue to move as much as you can in a safe manner. 

2) Compression

You’ll want to use gradient compression because you are optimizing the lymphatic system. Our lymphatic system is one of our detoxification systems. Let’s say you had an ankle injury; you would use a compression sleeve that would have just the toes out and come up ideally to your knee. If you’ve had a knee injury, preferably, you would use compression from the foot all the way up to begin to pump and assist the lymphatic system. You can also use various other tools, types of compression, or other forms of lymph drainage to assist the lymphatic system as well. 

3) Diaphragmatic Breathing

This is helpful for two reasons. One diaphragmatic breathing can help to inhibit pain, and it also calms your nervous system down. When we are in a heightened sense of pain, then our nervous system is in a protective state, which is typically a fight or flight state. The breathing is going to help stimulate the vagus nerve, which releases acetylcholine to calm the nervous system down and helps to inhibit pain. A side benefit is that it is our biggest pump for the lymphatic system is our diaphragm. 

4) Eat Right 

Make sure you’re getting enough protein necessary for optimal healing and you’re eating an anti-inflammatory diet. You also want to consider other things. For example, not taking any NSAIDs, especially within the first five days, if at all, because NSAIDs will block that inflammatory process that we need for healing. If you’re going to take one, it should be after five days, and that should only be if you absolutely need to. NSAIDs can also influence your gut and can contribute to dysbiosis in the gut. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut, so the more you take those, the more they’re negatively impacting your ability to regulate inflammation. 

So the next time you get injured, please make sure to ditch the ice, continue to move, use compression, diaphragmatically breathe, and don’t forget to eat an anti-inflammatory diet to promote optimal healing. 

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

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Pelvic Floor Relaxation

Another great vagus nerve hack that you can do is pelvic floor release and relaxation.

The vagus nerve is integrated with a sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight) almost everywhere in the body, but especially the gut and the pelvis. What’s interesting about the pelvic floor is that we tend to hold so much tension here. This is where we tend to hold our emotions, too.

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Let’s dive into the anatomy. The posterior vagus nerve actually integrates with a network of sympathetic plexus with a network of nerves:

  1. celiac plexus
  2. superior and inferior mesenteric plexi
  3. superior and inferior hypogastric plexi

This plexi actually forms an integrated circuit that moves blood flow in and out of the pelvis, and this is exactly what the autonomic nervous system is all about—moving blood. This network of nerves is where the vagus nerve brings blood to the heart and brain. Lastly, urination, defecation, sexual orgasm all require this complex integration of all of these nerves and blood flow from the pelvis to the rest of the body. In order to do all of those things, we have to feel safe in the bedroom as well as in the bathroom. Safety is the cornerstone of our state of social engagement of the ventral vagal nerve. Check out the video HERE to see how to perform:

1.   Pelvic Floor Release

Sitting on a ball and addressing the pelvic floor musculature is a great way to create this efficient relaxation response. The placement of the ball is behind the pubic bone to address the front of the pelvic floor and then right inside of the buttocks to address the back of the pelvic floor. Sit on the ball and breathe diaphragmatically until you feel a release or relaxation response.

2.   Happy Baby

This is a great relaxation exercise where there are lots of variations. However, you just need to get to a position where you feel very comfortable, and you’re able to inhale into the pelvic floor. When you are inhaling, that’s when the pelvic floor is relaxing and you are opening the pelvic outlet.

3.   Rock on Forearms

Resting on the forearms and knees wide, inhale as you rock back and exhale as you rock slightly forward. Once again, you’re opening up the pelvic outlet, inhaling into the base of the pelvic floor to create that relaxation response.

The pelvic floor is one of the most fascinating connections with the vagus nerve, so it’s a really great way to address this from a chakra standpoint. It tends to be an area for clenching and guarding, and especially for holding emotions.

You can see this intimate relationship with your nervous system and how it could affect you.

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5 Steps to Addressing SI Joint Pain | the Truth About SI

Do you suffer from sacroiliac (SI) joint pain and you’ve been told that your SI joint is out of place? Maybe you are trying to put it back in or wearing an SI joint belt? Perhaps you just can’t seem to resolve it. Let’s discuss the anatomy of the SI joint and how you can help to address your SI joint pain.

The SI joint comprises the triangular bone, the sacrum, with the two ilium’s, pelvic bones. It is also reinforced with a lot of ligamentous structures. All of these connective tissue structures and the SI joint are primarily responsible for shock absorption between the upper body, and the pelvis and legs.

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The sacroiliac joint has very little motion. It has approximately four to six degrees range of motion, so there is a subtle forward bending and back bending even just with our breath alone. However, just as much as it needs to be stable and have proper sequencing and coordination of all the deep stabilizers of the pelvis, it also needs proper mobility. We need the pelvis to be able to move freely in forward bending, backward bending, side bending, and rotation. This is crucial for gait.

Speaking of gait, how we interact with the ground influences our SI joint. Walking is one of the best assessments of movement efficiency. It tells us how well we can load forces and unload forces, and how well we can transfer energy through the body. We do that through our fascial tissue, and we have different fascial lines that are transferring this energy through our body, crossing over the SI joints.

One of the primary subsystems o the SI joint is the deep longitudinal line. This starts at the bottom of the foot comes up the lateral side of the leg, up into our hamstring, or biceps femoris, into our sacrotuberous ligament, which is one of the ligaments of the SI joint, and then right into the SI joint and up along the spine. This is where we’re transferring energy and this line is mainly responsible for shock absorption. When our breathing is compromised, and we’re not able to have proper sequencing and pelvic control of our gait, then we will see SI joint pain and dysfunction.

Now let’s talk about five different things that you should consider with your SI joint. 

1) Breathing

More specifically, diaphragmatic breathing. That means as we’re inhaling through the nose and breathing all the way down to the base of the pelvis. This will assist us to get the proper relaxation of the pelvic floor. As we exhale, we get the proper contraction of the transverse abdominus, our natural weight belt. Our abdominal muscles contract, returning the diaphragm back to its resting position. This will allow for proper sequencing, timing, and coordination of the deep stabilizers of our core. If we’re breathing from the neck, that will not happen. 

2) Pelvic Mobility

As I mentioned, the pelvis needs to be able to move freely in our gait cycle. We have to integrate the breath with this and coordinate into pelvic patterns. We want to be able to forward bend, backward bend, rotate, and side bend the pelvis. Evaluating those movements lying down and standing will be very valuable. Notice where the restrictions are and notice if that reproduces the pain. Remember if the pelvis isn’t moving properly as we are walking, then we are not transferring force efficiently. That is exactly what can contribute to SI joint pain.  

3) Rotational Stability

This can take on lots of different forms, although the bird dog is a great exercise to develop tensioning and coordination in a rotational pattern. This dials into a lot of other fascial lines and connections that all pass through the SI joint. It is important to stabilize basic patterns and then progress them to higher-level patterns.

4.1) Foot to Core Sequencing

Use dynamic patterns such as forward lunging, reverse lunging, side lunging, and rotational lunging. The goal is to perform all of these with proper alignment and connecting the foot to the core with intention. So, you’ll want to use a short foot, rooting the toes into the ground and connecting it to your breath, to be able to maximize how you’re sequencing from the ground up.

4.2) Foot Type

Different foot types will contribute to how we are loading and unloading force. If we have a more everted foot type for example, where the arch is flattened, this can contribute to the stability in our foot and how we transfer energy towards our pelvis. Conversely, if we have a more inverted foot type, which means we are a little higher arched, that can put a lot of stress and force on the SI joint as well. Our goal is to bring our foot back into neutral. Whether we are strengthening the feet and connecting them to our core or creating more mobility in the foot, calf, and lower leg to bring our foot back into neutral, how we load and unload the ground is going to directly impact the SI joint. 

5) Total Rotation

Lastly is addressing your total rotation. If we are in a standing position doing a full rotation, are there asymmetries side to side? Can you focus on specific thoracic spine mobility to create and emphasize more rotation in your gait? Ultimately, we need optimal rotation in our pelvis and thoracic spine for efficient gait. We walk on average 6000 to 8000 steps a day and that is our best assessment of movement efficiency. 

There you have it, a new way to look at your SI joint, and perhaps not seek out muscle energy techniques and ‘put it back into place.’ The SI joint only moves about four degrees so it is likely not out of place. You might have pain and dysfunction, but looking at why that’s happening, looking at it from an integrated perspective of how we are interacting with the ground, and get to the root of the issue is key. 

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

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Valsalva Maneuver

Let’s discuss another vagus nerve hack that you can incorporate into your day to decrease your heart rate and regulate your nervous system. This one is a little unique; it’s different than our standard slow, deep breathing. The Valsalva maneuver is great for anyone that’s experiencing super ventricular tachycardia (SVT), which is an increase in your heart rate. In essence, it will slow the heart rate down and create a relaxation response.

Rather watch or listen than read?


Now let’s talk a little bit about anatomy. The vagus nerve is leaving the brainstem and branches off to innervate muscles of the face, ears, throat, heart, digestive tract, and elimination tract. As it relates to the heart, specifically for this maneuver, the vagus nerve innervates the SA node of the heart. So, by creating pressure in the chest, it signals the SA node to signal the AV node to decrease the heart rate. In essence, the Valsalva will slow the signaling down in the lower chamber of the heart, which decreases the heart rate.


Before we get into how you’re going to perform the technique, I do want to remind you who should not perform this technique. Anyone that has a known heart condition, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, or heart disease, should not perform this, and/or check with your medical doctor. There is a temporary increase in blood pressure so it can place you at higher risk. If you do not fall into one of those categories, please feel free to give this a try.

How to Perform the Technique:

  • Inhale normally, pinch your nostrils, and begin to exhale.
  • Hold it for 10 seconds. You’re exhaling through the nose while you are pinching your nasal valves, thereby creating pressure in your chest.

Initially evaluate how you feel, and then you could repeat this several times. It should have a slowing of the heartbeat and relaxation response. A great thing to do is to take your pulse before and after the maneuver to see if it has lowered your heart rate. You can use your radial or carotid pulse, whatever is easiest for you. Just make sure not to use your thumb when taking your pulse. The Valsalva maneuver can be a great addition to your life and your health.

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

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

Other things that may interest you:

Vagus Nerve Hack | Auricular Ear Release

Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

Vagus Nerve Hack | Neck Release