8 ways to heal your chronic pain

Chronic pain is in part considered a neurodegenerative disease and is mismanaged in our country. We need to dig deeper into the biological and metabolic factors as well as the pathophysiology of chronic pain. This goes well beyond opioids and NSAIDs.

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What you need to know about chronic pain

Essentially, chronic pain will distort the cognitive and emotional processing of day-to-day experiences. The volume in chronic pain is dialed up, and our ability to inhibit or turn that volume down is decreased. Therefore, we have what we call sensitization. That means that our nervous system is hypersensitive. Everything is amplified, and the ability to dampen it is decreased.

In addition to that, it can be associated with anxiety and depression. Oftentimes, these may go hand in hand. Of course, it’s necessary and important to look at any type of adaptive movements or compensations that may be contributing. Beyond that, it’s important to look at toxin exposure, intestinal permeability, otherwise known as leaky gut, inflammation, dysbiosis in the gut, and hormone imbalances. Increased cortisol from chronic stress or decreased sex hormones, like DHEA, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, can influence our ability to perceive pain. 

Lastly, chronic pain does not equal tissue damage. With acute pain, there is often acute tissue damage which contributes to increased swelling, pain and increased white blood cells in the area. However, with chronic pain, there is no tissue damage. The tissues have healed, yet your brain is still perceiving that there is increased pain.

8 ways to heal your chronic pain

Let’s discuss eight things you can do to address your chronic pain.  

1. Stop the Opioids and NSAIDs

Long-term use of opioids can actually increase pain and your perception of pain. NSAIDs drive leaky gut, so intestinal permeability. That contributes to a release of lipopolysaccharides (LPs), which is considered an endotoxin. The more LPs that you have in your body, the more inflammation and the more pain you can experience. 

2. Support Key Nutrients

Chronic pain is considered a dysfunction of the mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells. You want to make sure that you’re supporting the nutrients for your mitochondria. Proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, for example, are crucial for the membrane health in your cells. 

3. Improve Glycemic Responses

Eat balanced meals with proteins, carbs, and fiber sources to prevent blood sugar dips throughout the day. If you’re eating a high glycemic food like candy, white bread, or enriched foods without any protein or fats, you can have poorly regulated blood sugar. You want to improve your membrane thresholds by stabilizing your glycemic response. 

4. Modulate Stress

This can be done through mindfulness practices, meditation, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, autogenic training, progressive relaxation, and much more. This is a crucial part of healing chronic pain and understanding your body’s signaling, which can be done through a variety of modalities. 

5. Purposeful Graded Exercise

It is important to start low and go slow in a very systematic progression. For example, if you were going to start walking, you would start walking for five minutes every other day. Once you’re able to do that without any increase in pain, then you can proceed to eight minutes. This will allow you to progress safely without getting discouraged.

6. Heal the Gut

Your gut is 70% of your immune system. This is what drives inflammation, and typically, chronic pain is associated with chronic inflammation. You want to get to the root of your gut issues. Gastrointestinal issues might not be obvious and could present as systemic inflammation, joint pain, and so on. 

7. Prioritize High-Quality Sleep

It is important to make sure that you are not only getting enough sleep, but you’re getting deep and REM sleep to fully restore and repair your body. 

8. Assess and Decrease Toxins

You can start by going to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website and begin to choose one product at a time to switch to a cleaner product. This could be something as simple as switching from plastic water bottles to stainless-steel water bottles. You could change the products you’re using on your skin or your hair. Toxins, including medications, are things that can continue to perpetuate the chronic pain cycle. 

You can get better! You can heal your chronic pain. Look beyond just basic physical therapy, exercises, cortisone shots, and surgeries. You have to dig deeper into all of the things that play into chronic pain. 

We are happy to help, so please reach out. We do virtual and in-person consultations, so we’d love the opportunity to help you on your journey. If this was helpful, give it a share and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Need help? 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 | Diaphragmatic and Lymphatic Release

Did you know that the lymphatic system is one of the most powerful yet neglected systems in the body and it’s critical for our immune health?

As we know, nearly 90% of all chronic diseases and chronic health conditions are associated with excessive or persistent inflammation. How do we get rid of inflammation and detoxify our bodies? We do this primarily through the lymphatic system and our detoxification organs.

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Our liver is one of the most important detoxification organs, but we also want to factor in our lungs, kidneys, skin, and even our tongue.

How does this relate to the vagus nerve?

Although the vagus nerve does not innervate the lymphoid organs directly, it does play a huge role in the neuroimmune axis. There’s information coming into the brain via the vagus nerve and from the brain via the vagus nerve. Our diaphragm is one of our main respiratory pumps for the lymphoid system. If you are having any gut issues and if you suspect that your lymphatic system is congested, which it is for many people, this is a great technique to release the diaphragm to optimize your respiratory pump. The vagus nerve passes right through the diaphragm, so when you are stimulating the diaphragm, you are also stimulating the vagus nerve. 

How do you perform the technique? 

You can do this lying down or standing up. Use a scooping technique right underneath the ribcage on the left side. The diaphragm is attaching to the inside of the ribs. Push down towards the opposite hip with your hands gently to release the spleen, stomach, and pancreas. Perform this about 10 times.

Then, switch to the other side where we will release the liver and gallbladder. Perform 10 times.

Lastly, come into the center of the abdomen between the sternum and belly button. You will incorporate this with your breath. Inhale and relax the hands, exhale push in with your hands with a pumping motion. This will help pump the lymphatic system. This should not be aggressive at all, just intentional. Perform this for another 10 reps.

Make sure you check out all of my other vagus nerve hacks, but if this was helpful, make sure to give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel. The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If you are interested in making a consult for yourself, please make sure to reach out. You can check us out at themovementparadigm.com, we would love the opportunity to help you.

Need help? 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 | Pyloric valve release | visceral release

Vagus Nerve Hack | Ileocecal Valve Release | Visceral Release

Vagus Nerve Hack | Pyloric valve release | visceral release

If you’re experiencing any gut issues or stress, then this vagus nerve hack, the pyloric valve release, may be very powerful for you.

The pyloric valve connects the stomach to the small intestine. If you have increased stress, blood flows away from your digestive tract. Additionally, low fiber intake, decreased pancreatic enzyme efficiency, or low stomach acid can contribute to pyloric valve dysfunction.

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Essentially, when food is not broken down well, then the bacteria are passed downstream to the small intestine. That can cause a whole host of issues from dysbiosis and SIBO — small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

The interesting thing about the pyloric valve is that it is innervated with parasympathetic fibers as well as sympathetic fibers. The sympathetic fibers act on noradrenaline, which will increase the contraction of that sphincter. The parasympathetic fibers contribute to the relaxation of that sphincter. And that’s where the vagus nerve comes into play.

How do you perform this release? 

First, you want to locate the pyloric valve by lying on your back. You start from your umbilicus, or belly button, and come up about two inches. Everyone’s torso is going to be a little bit different, so the location of the pyloric valve will be different for every person.

Once you come up about two inches, then you should be able to feel the sphincter. It will feel like a little circle. You’ll be able to work your way into the tissue.

Once you’ve located it, you can begin to do a very gentle soft release here using a small circular motion. Then, when you do the actual pyloric valve release, move your hands over to the left, towards the stomach. Use both hands to gently pull the tissue in towards the pyloric valve. Once you gently pull the tissue over, you will hold that for one to two minutes to allow everything to relax. 

Whenever you’re doing these types of releases, think intentional, not aggressive. You want to let the tissue relax and soften. You may feel tenderness at first which is normal. It should release, however, as you continue. You do not want to perform this right after you eat.

Try doing this before bed to help down-regulate the nervous system. It’s a great way to calm the nervous system. You could also do this before you eat to bring yourself to a parasympathetic state to optimize your digestion. Enjoy! 

If you are interested in making a consult for yourself, please make sure to reach out. You can check us out at themovementparadigm.com, we would love the opportunity to help you.

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

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Should you do crunches?

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Should you do crunches?

Should you be doing crunches? This is definitely a controversial topic.

Let me first start with I was obsessed with the core starting from my early 20s. I was interested in how we could stabilize our spines properly while preventing low back pain and other injuries, while also generating as much force as possible. This led me to understand more about deep core stabilizers. They include your diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse abdominis (your natural weight belt), psoas, and the multifidus. All of these have to work together as an integrated unit.  

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Are crunches bad?

Well, we have to get out of bed in the morning. We have to be able to flex our spines. In order to perform a crunch, we have to recruit our global core muscles. In order to do that without eventually getting injured, it is necessary to stabilize first. Stability is defined as timing, sequencing, and coordination. 

How do we reinforce this optimal stabilization before mobilization, i.e., a crunch?

How to perform crunches

1. Breathe

In order to have proper stabilization, we have to have optimal diaphragmatic breathing.

We need to inhale through our nose and breathe all the way down to the base of the core to allow this intra-abdominal pressure to build up 360 degrees. That allows our transverse abdominis, your natural weight belt, to expand and contract eccentrically. Your pelvic floor is lengthening when inhaling and as you exhale, the pelvic floor lifts, and the transverse abdominis contracts. The diaphragm goes back up to its resting position. It’s a beautiful rhythmical dance. 

2. Prevent Doming

Doming can happen from the diastasis rectus, which is the separation of the fascial structure called the linea alba. That can happen from pregnancy or from poor stability over time. Many women and men can experience this.

Doming occurs when the abdomen pops out as you are doing some type of crunch or abdominal forward bending. If you feel that popping out, that means you have to reintegrate the breath and change the movement to make sure that you are stabilizing first. 

3. Lift Up

Regardless of the type of crunch you are doing, you want to think of lifting up as opposed to just pulling your head forward. A lot of times we tend to yank on our neck, which actually just ends up being a neck exercise and not at all a core exercise. You want to seek optimal movement with proper fascial tensioning, rather than doming, breath-holding, or pulling on your neck. 

Lastly, I just want to mention a couple of things that are indicators that the core is not stabilizing well. A hernia or a sports hernia, which is also called a core muscle injury, is a perfect example of too much demand on global muscles coupled with a lack of deep intrinsic stabilization. That leads to tearing of the tissue. Both need to be surgically repaired. 

So to answer the question, are crunches bad?

It depends on how you’re doing them. If you can integrate some of the things that I spoke about today, you can actually change crunches and make sure that they’re appropriate for you. There’s always a gray area. 

Need help? 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: visceral sympathetic release | celiac plexus, superior/inferior mesenteric plexus

Did you know that stress can inhibit the vagus nerve? When we are stressed, we are activating our sympathetic nervous system, our “fight or flight” system.

We can access the sympathetic nervous system through our viscera. We can do specific visceral techniques on ourselves that can down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system so that we can upregulate the vagus nerve, which is the cornerstone of our parasympathetic nervous system, or “rest and digest” system.

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How stress affects our viscera

Stress can affect us in so many ways, but let’s specifically speak to how it affects our viscera.

Stress inhibits or turns down the vagus nerve, which is what innervates our entire digestive tract. If we are stressed, blood flow moves away from the digestive system. If we’re in a sympathetic state, we are not able to digest, assimilate, and even eliminate our food as well as we should.

Additionally, if we have a high vagal tone, then we will have good protective epithelial or gut barrier function. If we are in a constant fight or flight system, then, unfortunately, we don’t have that protective barrier that can contribute to things like leaky gut, IBS, and even inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

So what can you do about it?

The visceral sympathetic release technique is something you can do on yourself that can downregulate your sympathetic nervous system. You can target the celiac plexus, the superior mesenteric plexus, and the inferior mesenteric plexus, which are all nerve bundles part of this system

While you’re lying down, you want to assess each of these three areas. 

  1. You will start about an inch under the xiphoid process, which is the bone right under your sternum. That is your celiac plexus. 
  2. Then, move down to halfway between your xiphoid process (bottom of your sternum) and your belly button to your superior mesenteric plexus. 
  3. About one inch above your belly button is your inferior mesenteric plexus. 

Assess for a temperature, edema, or tenderness in each of these areas. Wherever you notice any kind of restriction, decreased elasticity, swelling, or soreness, then that’s the area you want to address. As with any type of release, you want to have a very gentle approach, especially with the viscera. You are manipulating fascia, which does not need to be aggressive. You want to be very intentional about your technique and your pressure.

This is a great opportunity for you to tune in to your own body and viscera. As you move through the technique, you’ll find the key areas that you want to release and proceed to hold each spot. You can use both fingers, one on top of the other, to sink into the tissue until you feel one of those shifts in what you’re assessing.

Is there a decrease in tenderness? Does it feel like there’s less swelling around the area or is it more elastic?

You can assess for any change in the tissue or does it feel like a sense of relaxation?  That could feel like a sigh, swallow, yawn, or just a sense of calmness in your body. 

After you perform the technique, reassess to see how that tissue feels. You can reinforce that with diaphragmatic breathing to up-regulate your parasympathetic nervous system even more. This can be a great technique to do before you go to bed or before you eat, especially if you have gut issues. 

If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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

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Muscle is the organ of longevity

Did you know that muscle is your organ of vitality and longevity, and we need a lot more of it?

As we think about optimizing our health and our longevity, we have to critically think about our muscle mass and strength. In fact, it can start declining in our late 30s and 40s. There’s so much opportunity to be able to build and maintain muscle mass as we move into our older years. You can even gain muscle mass after 50 and 60.

We want to think about preventing sarcopenia, which is a loss of muscle mass. That is one of the biggest predictors of poor recovery from falls as we get older. Let’s dive into why muscle is your organ of longevity, what are some things that can happen with poor muscle mass, and what you can do about it.

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Quite simply put, increased muscle mass will have improved health outcomes, not only from a physical standpoint but from a metabolic standpoint. Conversely, low muscle mass is associated with fatigue, injuries, frailty, falls, and even death.

Why is muscle mass important in the body

Now let’s go through why muscle is so important for our body. 

1. Provides Structure 

Perhaps one of the most obvious things is that it provides us with a structure and integrity to allow us to move dynamically through the world.

2. Reduces Systemic Inflammation

Increased muscle mass decreases inflammation. Conversely, increased adipose tissue or fat tissue is inflammatory in nature, especially coming from the visceral fat. Visceral fat will increase inflammation as well as insulin resistance. So you can see how increased muscle mass will decrease those factors and optimize our blood-sugar metabolism and hormonal function. 

3. Regulates Our Metabolism

It is necessary for fat oxidation, glucose metabolism, and detoxification. This is, quite frankly, one of the most important functions of muscle.

4. Whole-Body Protein Metabolism

It plays a central role in whole-body protein metabolism. This is where protein synthesis occurs. Think of it as this reservoir that contains all of our amino acids. We have to consume proteins to be able to optimize our amino acid intake, as well as muscle metabolism. 

How to preserve our organ of longevity

As I mentioned, we are all losing muscle mass as we age. When we’re younger, we rely more on things like testosterone, insulin, and growth hormone to optimize our muscle mass. As we get older, we have to rely more on things like nutrition, training, and perhaps for some, supplementation. Now to get into what we need to preserve our organ longevity. 

1. Consuming Enough Protein and Essential Amino Acids

As it relates to protein synthesis, we have to consume enough protein. But what does that mean? That’s always a big question.

Consuming enough protein means that for women you are consuming at least 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal and for men 30 to 40 grams per meal. That is assuming that you are eating at least three meals a day.

Now if we want to get a little bit more specific, you can say 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. Now, the next aspect of this is that we have to consume all of the essential amino acids. There is some controversy over this. That means that if you are a vegetarian, you have to think about combining protein sources.

For example, brown rice and peas will make a complete protein. Chicken, fish, or turkey is already a complete protein. We want to think about having all of these essential amino acids consistently throughout the day so that we’re feeding this positive nitrogen balance, which is ultimately our amino acid balance. 

2. Progressive Overload Training

You have to have some form of training with progressive overload. That means that it is a structured program where you are consistently changing either the intensity, duration, volume, or weights.

We have to be able to constantly break down protein and build protein. It is a beautiful cycle that changes every day based on what we’re doing.

Essentially, your muscles need to be constantly stimulated. If they’re not stimulated, there’s no way for us to increase or shift our muscle to fat ratio.

Regardless of age, if we take a 20-year-old for example, we know that a 20-year-old is going to be able to build bigger and stronger muscles than an 80-year-old. However, an 80-year-old with proper resistance training and progressive overload is still going to be able to develop larger muscles. We want to consider that age should not be a factor in this and wherever you are right now is a great opportunity to start.

3. Supplementation

Last but not least, there’s supplementation. Supplementation does not work alone, and it is absolutely necessary to have an optimal diet with enough protein as well as a proper training regime. There is enough scientific literature to prove that creatine is a promising supplement that can help with building muscle mass. Essentially, it’s bringing water into the muscle cell to enlarge it which will develop more muscle force and mass. 

There you have it… all the reasons why muscle is your organ of longevity. It is so important to think about how you can live into your older years the way that you want and to feel strong and healthy from a metabolic, hormonal, and physical standpoint. My entire career, I’ve been trying to get anybody that will listen to me to strength train because I think it is so valuable. I hope that you consider this if you’re not already.

Give this a shot. Let me know how it goes. If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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

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Optimize your testosterone

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Optimize your testosterone

Did you know that testosterone in men can decrease at the age of 30? However, that does not necessarily mean that you need hormone replacement. Today we are going to talk about the science of low T, the causes, and what you can do about it.

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Let’s first start with this — testosterone can affect men and women. However, we will focus mostly on men. The signs of low T in a man can be anything from low mood, low energy, erectile dysfunction, low libido, fatigue, poor sleep, decreased strength, and muscle mass among other things. This is something that most people associate testosterone with, but it’s important to recognize all of the other symptoms that correlate with low T. It can also lead to things like brain fog and irritability.

Many things can affect low T and it is important to dig deep to see if this is a possibility for you and how you can improve it. 

Causes of Decreased Testosterone

Now we are going to get into things that decrease testosterone. 

1. Chronic Opioid Use

One of the biggest drivers is chronic opioid use. This happens in up to 74% of chronic opioid users. That means if you are going to go play golf or work out and you pop a couple of Advil’s, remember that could be associated with your low T.  

2. Insulin Resistance

Increased visceral body fat (belly fat) is inflammatory in nature and drives insulin resistance. This can cause elevated blood sugars and lipid issues. Also, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension can all be associated with low T. 

3. Poor Sleep

This is what I see the most in my men with low T; they are experiencing poor quality sleep. That might mean not getting enough sleep, watching TV before bed, sleeping with the TV on, using their phone right before bed, or drinking alcohol right before bed. All of these things are going to tank your testosterone. 

4. Inflammatory Diets

The Standard American Diet is what many men consume. High-fat, high-sugar, and processed foods. All of these things often drive food sensitivities, inflammation, and then begin to spiral into affecting our sex hormones. In this particular case, your testosterone. 

5. Stress

Stress is what drives high cortisol. Whenever we’re thinking about how our sex hormones are affected, we want to think about adrenals first. This produces our stress hormones and an imbalance can affect the thyroid and then sex hormones. If you have high levels of stress, this may be an area to focus on. A lot of times I’ll see men that are in their 30s to 40s that are experiencing high-stress lives that have low T simply because of their lifestyle. 

6. Low Protein Diets

Men need to have at least 30 to 40 grams of high-quality, essential amino acids in every meal. This is key for optimal hormone health. We also need healthy fats!

What You Can Do About It

So, what do you do about it? First, you should get properly evaluated by a functional medicine practitioner, a hormone specialist, or a professional that can guide you and coach you through this journey. With that said, if you decide to pursue hormone replacement, you want to make sure that your lifestyle factors are dialed in.

If you are experiencing high stress, poor sleep, inflammatory diet and you decide to start hormone replacement for low T, I can assure you it will not be as effective. It is so important to address the basics first so that you can optimize your natural T before approaching your potential hormone replacement. So what other things can you do?

1. Moderate Intensity Strength Training

You want to be performing over 200 minutes a week of exercise, most importantly coming from your strength work. Strength training will naturally boost your T. It’s such an easy way to do it, but it has to be consistent just like anything else. 

2. Proper Sleep

Addressing sleep is so imperative. This requires a journey. It can be starting by just looking at your sleep hygiene and picking one thing that you could change such as blue light blockers after seven o’clock, having a set time that you go to bed and wake up, and turning the TV off 30 minutes before bed. There are lots of things that you can do to begin to shift your natural circadian rhythm so that you are optimizing your repair and restoration.

Ultimately, we want to think of testosterone as a growth and repair mechanism. When you have rotator cuff injuries, stenosis in your spine, or degenerating discs, you want to be thinking about testosterone, especially when that’s happening in your 30s, 40’s, and 50’s. Sleep can optimize your natural repair process. 

3. Intermittent Fasting 

This has been shown to be very helpful for optimizing testosterone in men. This can be done in a 16-8 window; fasting for 16 hours and feeding for eight. This has to be highly individualized to the person and their activity level. This is not for everyone. However, just know that it is something that could be explored to see how that works for you and be objective when you’re able to; look at blood work or saliva when you are testing your hormones.

4. Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are key to helping you optimize inflammation and supporting other functions in the body. One thing you could do is eat fatty fish at least two times a week if not more. Also, things like walnuts and flax seeds are great sources of omega 3’s. For a therapeutic dose of EFA, you want 3-6 g of EPA/DHA in a supplement. 

5. Zinc and Vitamin D 

These are key for low T. So please make sure that if you’re not getting enough in your diet that you are supplementing as well.

6. Botanicals

Botanicals can be very valuable in supporting natural testosterone. 

There are a lot of things that you can do to address the basics in terms of lifestyle to naturally support testosterone before you explore testosterone replacement. I think there’s a continuum and you want to make sure that you’re doing things at the right time for the right reasons and with the right guidance. I cannot stress that enough.

If you need help, please make sure to reach out. I will make sure that we take great care of you, educate you, and make sure to get you in the right direction. We also have a great support team that can also help you depending on what you need.

Give this a shot. Let me know how it goes. If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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

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6 ways to improve your sleep

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6 ways to improve your sleep

I am going to start with a bold statement: sleep is more important than exercise and nutrition combined. Whether or not you are one of the 50 to 70 million Americans that suffer from some type of sleep disorder, snoring, waking up feeling not well-rested, trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, then this is definitely for you.

What are some indications that you may not be getting the most optimal sleep that you can? You could have memory issues, mood changes, yawning during the day, irritability, heart disease, or high blood pressure. All of these can be associated with poor sleep, both quality and/or quantity.

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Sleep is a naturally reoccurring state of the mind and body. We have decreased use of our voluntary muscles, inhibition of sensory activity, and ultimately reduced interactions with our surroundings.

Here’s the take-home – sleep is one of the most overlooked and undervalued methods to recovery, overall health, and well-being.

We want to think about sleep as our time to rest, restore, and recover. If we are not doing those things, how could we possibly have a great workout? How can we have the energy to go work out? How can we have the desire to want to eat healthily and not crave carbohydrates or sugar-rich foods?

We have to sleep well in order to make optimal health decisions. Additionally, all of our systems are restored when we sleep. Our immune system, skeletal system, and hormonal system are all affected. If you’re dealing with chronic pain, memory and mood issues, depression, and/or anxiety then sleep is imperative. This is when all of our tanks are filled. While your REM sleep is helping with your brain, think of your deep sleep as helping with your body. 

Now let’s talk about six of my favorite sleep hacks. 

1. Blue Light Blockers

Put these on at seven o’clock if you are using any type of electronics: TV, phone, or iPad. Make sure to turn your electronics off at a minimum of 30 minutes before you go to bed if not an hour. Also, when you go to bed if your phone is in your room, put it on airplane mode, Wi-Fi off, and place it at least eight feet from you. Here’s a link to my favorite blue light blocker.

2. Foot Recovery

Check out Naboso technology for their splays or socks to stimulate and help recover your feet. These will stimulate the small nerves in the feet and optimize circulation, which is a great way to restore and recover before bed. 

3. Develop a Routine

You’ll want to focus on downregulating the nervous system and preparing for sleep. If you’re not doing anything, start with five minutes of a pre-bed routine. Diaphragmatic breathing is a great start. If you’re already meditating, that’s fantastic. If you’re not meditating, try breathwork. Start at one minute and then gradually move up until a longer period of time. You could also try taking a bath or reading a book. There are lots of ways that you can begin to downregulate your nervous system and prepare for sleep. 

4. Optimize Your Airway

Whether you snore, wake up with your mouth open, or have a dry mouth in the morning, then you can consider nasal dilators. You can use Mute nasal dilators which is one of my favorite brands. This will help to open up your airway and makes it easier to breathe diaphragmatically. Additionally, if this is appropriate for you and if you are a mouth breather, you could consider mouth taping. There are lots of different tape brands that you could use, I like the Nexcare tape because it is gentle. Mouth taping forces you to breathe in through your nose. If you have some type of structural airway dysfunction, then you might want to start during the day just for a short amount of time such as 30 minutes to test it before you try to go sleep with it. 

5. Not Eating Three Hours Before Bed

Think of digestion as a very complex metabolic reaction. Think of sleep as our time to restore and recover. We can’t do both of those well at the same time, so you want to stop eating and drinking alcohol within that three-hour window. Alcohol is something that destroys the quality of your sleep. You will sleep through the night for sure, but the quality will definitely be affected. This is one of the biggest things to consider if you’re trying to optimize your sleep.

6. Setting up Your Environment 

We want to think about your sleep environment as clean, without distractions, electronics, a dark room, black shades if possible, and hypoallergenic sheets. Make sure that everything is set up to provide a nice environment for you to rest and restore. 

Although there are many different sleep hacks, I would suggest just picking one of these things that might be appropriate for you that you could work on. If you don’t have a routine, start there. If you are not wearing blue light blockers, start there. Find out what resonates with you and give it a shot. Then week after week as your sleep hopefully continues to improve, you can begin to add another layer to your sleep regime. 

We want to try to optimize everything about sleep so that we can heal, recover, and perform at our best. If this was helpful, please give it share with a friend or family member. As always make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Sleep well!

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

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Jaw-Emotion Link

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Jaw-Emotion Link

If you experience jaw pain, you should know about its link to emotions. Poor vagal tone is linked to things like clenching and grinding.

When we have overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve from the masseter muscle, one of our main jaw muscles, we are in sympathetic nervous system (flight/flight) overdrive. Clenching or grinding your teeth at night or during a stressful situation is very common.

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Other Factors that Affect Jaw Pain

Poor tongue posture can also contribute to jaw pain. The tongue should be on the roof of the mouth and gently touches the back of the teeth in our resting tongue posture.

If we have dysfunctional breathing or breathing from the neck and shoulders, that creates a stress response. That can further drive dysfunction in the trigeminal nerve.

The trigeminal nerve innervates the muscles of the face, sinuses, and nasal cavity. It is one of the biggest nerves that we want to associate with our sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight system. It is also deeply connected to the vagus nerve.

Our vagus nerve is 80% of our parasympathetic nervous system. These two nerves are bringing information to the brain and affect transmitters such as serotonin and noradrenaline, which are linked to neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Ultimately, when we have dysfunction or miscommunication in these nerves, whether the sympathetic nervous system is increased or the parasympathetic nervous system is decreased,  then this can contribute to jaw pain. 

Most often, you’ll see clenching and grinding at night. Our reticular activating system is part of our brainstem and when we’re sleeping, our cerebrum is at rest and our reticular activating system is that alert system that is going to tell us if our child is crying.  Think of it as our survival mechanism. So during sleep is often where we’ll start to see the sympathetic overdrive kick in. 

Takehome Message

The take-home message is that there is truly a jaw-emotion link. If you’re suffering from TMJ, have your airway evaluated. It is important to make sure that there are no structural abnormalities that are contributing to it. However, you also want to dive into the emotional aspect of it. Explore your emotions, learn how to regulate your nervous system, try many of my vagus nerve hacks, speak to a professional. Find what works for you. 

I hope this was helpful if it was please give it a share with your friends and family. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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.

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5 Ways to Improve your Mobility

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5 Ways to Improve your Mobility

Wondering how you can improve your mobility? If you feel tight or restricted in your day-to-day activities or exercise movements, then this is for you. Let’s start by defining mobility.

Mobility is essentially being able to move a body segment in a pain-free, non-restricted range. This is important because we want to not just focus on the muscle and fascia, but also the joint and ligamentous structures. All of these tissues are going to allow for a non-restricted pain-free range of motion.

Please check out my other article on the science of stretching, because today we’re going to focus on five ways that you can improve your mobility. 

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1. Own Your Movement

You want to own your movement, not rent it. For example, if I was looking at your shoulder mobility while you bring your arms overhead, your elbows bend or your back starts to arch. This means that you don’t have a full range of shoulder mobility. Rather there are compensations throughout the kinetic chain.

When we’re thinking about mobility, we want to create tension in the body and isolate whatever aspect we’re working on, in this case, let’s say the shoulder. We want to create stability where the body needs stiffness and create mobility where we actually need it.

It is important to make sure that as you’re working on different mobility exercises that you are focusing on the quality of the motion, and the true articular motion of the joint of that particular body segment without any compensation.

2. Load Your Body in a New Range

In order to make gains in our mobility, we have to challenge it in a new range that we don’t necessarily have. Even improving your range of motion by a degree or two is significant because that can change how you move through the world. We can use the example of your ankle.

If we can change your ankle mobility two to three degrees, that’s going to change how you walk, go up and downstairs, squat, run, move, play, and perform any dynamic activity. Those small gains in a new range can make a huge difference. 

3. Breathing in That New Position

When you are challenging your body in this new range, your nervous system may feel that it is in a vulnerable position. We have to teach our nervous system how to be safe in this new position.

To do that, we have to breathe optimally to calm the nervous system down and create that parasympathetic response in the new range. This will allow us to communicate to our brain and nervous system to say this is safe.

4. Create Strength in Your New Range

Going back to the shoulder example, if we are trying to create a new range of motion, we can use something like a dowel, a golf club, or a broom to reach overhead to push our shoulder into that new range.

We want to use our breath, core, and total body tension to get our shoulders in that new range when we lift overhead. When you get to the top of the motion, you can press or pull into it to create strength in the new range that you didn’t have before. I like to think of it as you’re creating strength in mobility. 

5. Self-Myofascial Release

Self-myofascial release is not breaking up adhesions or getting rid of knots in the muscle. What we are doing is creating a neurophysiological response. We’re creating an inhibition of the tissue to allow for a relaxation of tissue.

We can do this best by using an example such as the pin and hold technique. You can perform this technique with a tennis or lacrosse ball. If you were working on the tissue in your quad, you would place the ball closer to the origin or insertion of the muscle because that’s where we have our GTOs, Golgi tendon organs, which are nerve endings that give our brain feedback. We are creating an inhibition of the tissue to then allow us to move that tissue in a new range.

Unfortunately, we tend to have a lot of movement compensations. That can be from injuries, surgeries, just poor movement in general, or lack of movement. Due to this, our tissue isn’t always as elastic as it should be. 

When you think about going into your movement preparation routine before your workout, this is an optimal time to work on things like this. Focus your attention on specific body parts that you need work on. 

For example, you might need to work on ankle mobility for a month or two, and then transition to shoulder mobility. If you could do all of it at the same time, awesome, but be realistic and give yourself a little grace to do the best you can.

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.

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