Are you tired of that constant nagging neck pain that hinders your productivity and dampens your mood? We’ve all experienced those moments when the stress and strain of daily life seem to settle right in our necks, causing discomfort and tension. But fear not!
In this article, we’re here to share three incredibly simple yet effective neck exercises that can provide you with quick relief whenever you need it. Whether you spend long hours in front of a computer screen or carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, these exercises are designed to ease tension, improve flexibility, and promote relaxation. So, let’s dive in and discover the key to a pain-free and revitalized neck!
Rather watch or listen?
The Importance of Breathing Mechanics
Now, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk a little bit about why we might get neck pain, and one of the biggest reasons is not so much that we’re sitting with the forward head posture or texting all day but rather poor breathing mechanics.
We breathe 25,000 times a day and ideally, we are using our diaphragm to do that. When we are breathing from our neck and shoulders, however, contributes to increased tone in the neck.
3 Neck Exercises for Quick Relief
Exercise 1: Optimizing Your Breath
One of the most crucial aspects of combating neck pain lies in optimizing our breath. If you want to take it a step further, you may explore airway dysfunction in detail. However, at the bare minimum, you can work on the basic mechanics of proper tongue posture—resting your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
As you breathe in through your nose, focus on directing your breath upwards instead of straight back, as this can make a significant difference. Additionally, allow your abdomen to expand 360 degrees like a big balloon as you inhale. This simple foundation will pave the way for the subsequent exercises.
Exercise 2: The Salamander
The second exercise is called the salamander. This is an exercise adapted from Stanley Rosenberg, who wrote “The Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve.”
To begin, interlace your fingers and place them behind the back of your head, ensuring they touch the occipital area. Gently bend your upper body to the side while simultaneously looking in the opposite direction with your eyes. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Once you return to the center, switch sides, face forward, and look the other way while maintaining the hold for another 30 seconds. You can assess your range of motion both before and after the exercise to witness the improvement.
If one side causes slight discomfort, feel free to use one hand. By engaging our hands, eyes, and the neurological connection between them, we stimulate the vagus nerve and spinal accessory nerve, which leads to neck relaxation and overall nervous system calmness.
Exercise 3: Myofascial Release Technique
The last one that I really love is a myofascial technique that’s very simple, and you can do it anywhere, anytime.
Start by placing your hand flat on the outside of your neck, gently moving it towards your ear.
As you provide traction, you’ll naturally bring your head back into an optimal alignment, resulting in a pleasant sensation. Moreover, this technique targets the lymph nodes and stimulates the vagus nerve, promoting relaxation and an ideal head posture.
You can hold this position for 30 seconds up to two minutes, depending on your comfort level. It’s a highly valuable exercise that offers both release and stimulation.
Incorporating these Exercises into Your Daily Routine
I would suggest exploring all of these throughout the course of your day. These are three of many exercises that you could do to help relieve it. Although, if you sit at your desk all day, the most important thing is to get moving.
Always think movement variability is the key to preventing pain and injury.
If it was helpful, give it a like, give it a share, and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.
How often do you check in with yourself, truly connecting your mind and body? If you’re looking for ways to enhance this vital connection, you’re in the right place.
In this blog, we’ll dive into three powerful self-somatic release practices that can bring a new level of awareness and harmony to your life. Get ready to explore the transformative potential of somatic therapy and unlock a deeper understanding of yourself. Let’s jump right in!
Rather watch or listen?
Understanding somatic therapy
Somatic therapy is rooted in neuroscience and is specifically geared toward your physical movements, bodily sensations, past experiences and potential traumas that you may have undergone.
How it differs from traditional talk therapy
Unlike traditional talk therapy, which focuses primarily on verbal communication, somatic therapy addresses our neurological and physiological responses.
It is a unique form of therapy, and there are practitioners you can seek out, as well as self-somatic practices you can do on your own to help connect with potential past emotions, suppressed or repressed emotions, or even traumas.
What to consider
When engaging in these exercises, always make sure you are in a safe place and feel secure while performing them.
At its core, somatic therapy helps us appreciate that emotional distress and past traumatic experiences are stored within the body. This can manifest in various ways, such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, chronic illness, anxiety, and depression. With somatic therapy, our goal is to tap into these emotions and past experiences, integrating and processing them.
Considering how humans relate more with non-verbal communication than verbal communication, it becomes essential to address the healing of the body, especially regarding emotions, through our physical body.
A helpful framework to understand our experience and resilience is the “resilience zone.” Within this zone, there is a middle section representing the present moment. However, we can easily be pushed out of this zone into a hyperarousal state, characterized by hyper-vigilance and anxiety, or into a hypoarousal state, marked by shutdown and depression. These states are normal and part of life, but past traumas can keep us stuck in them.
To regulate and return to the resilience zone, somatic practices are valuable. Body awareness practices, breath practices, and movement can be utilized for this purpose.
Although I will share specific techniques, it’s important to acknowledge that any form of body movement can be powerful. Walking, dancing, and fluid-like motions that ignite a sense of flow can all be incredibly impactful.
3 self-somatic release exercises
Today, we’re going to go over three different exercises that you can begin to explore in your body, mind, and life and see how they are for you.
Exercise 1: Progressive relaxation
The first exercise is called progressive relaxation. We will move through the body and create tension in each part, and then relax it. We’ll start at the feet.
I’d like you to think of curling your feet tightly and then relaxing them. For the calves, point your toes, tighten them, and then relax. When you reach the quads, squeeze them and then relax.
As you do this, bring awareness to the creation of tension and then the release of it. Notice that some areas might already be tight as you progress. Squeeze your glutes together and then relax, letting go of that tension. Continue to bring more awareness to your body.
Next, think about curling up your abs slightly, as if you’re doing a mini crunch, and then relax. Now, let’s move to the hands. Make a fist and then relax. We can also curl the arms and then let them go. Bring your shoulders up towards your ears, tighten them, and then let them go. Progress through the body systematically, creating tension and then relaxing, allowing everything to let go.
Exercise 2: The flower
The next exercise is called the flower. While lying on your back, start with your palms down, shoulders rolled in, and feet together, with your knees bent.
From here, open the hands so you’re facing your palm towards the ceiling at the same time as opening your hips. Think you’re opening up like a flower, moving nice and slowly, and then coming back, rolling the hands down towards the floor. Shoulders are going to roll off the ground, and you’re going to feel a little tension in the neck for just a moment.
When you feel comfortable, pair that with your breath, so you can inhale as you’re coming down, opening, and then exhaling, moving at a very slow pace. Pay very close attention to your physical sensations and what’s happening in your body throughout the exercise.
Exercise 3: Tapping exercise
The next exercise is called tapping. You can do this all over your body anytime during the day. It’s a great way to start your morning if you’re feeling slightly stressed or anxious and want to bring your awareness back to your body. Tapping involves making a closed fist and gently tapping your body, moving all around, down the arms and legs, and reconnecting with your physical self.
These are just three examples of the many somatic practices you can explore. The key is understanding that we may store emotional distress or traumas in our bodies, which can manifest in various ways. By becoming embodied, we can have a significant impact on our emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
If you found this helpful, please like and share. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Make sure to check out all the vagus nerve exercises available here as well, as they can also be incorporated into this somatic practice.
Have you ever wondered why your core is so important for your overall physical performance?
While many people focus on building a strong core, there’s more to it than just a toned midsection. Your core is responsible for much more than you may think as it plays a critical role in sequencing, timing, and coordination—all of which are vital for optimal motor control.
By improving your core function, you can move more efficiently, generate more force, and prevent injuries, all of which can help take your physical performance to the next level.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to optimize your core for better function and performance, so you can achieve your fitness goals and enhance your overall health. So, let’s get started!
Rather watch or listen?
The first thing we need to consider when optimizing our core function—our foundation—is stacking or positioning the rib cage over the top of the pelvis.
As we age, we may develop a forward head posture, a tilted pelvis, or a flaring rib cage, all of which can impact our core function. It’s important to remember that posture affects respiration and vice versa—they are interdependent on each other.
Mechanics of Core Function
When we’re optimizing the pressurization system of our core, we need to think about the rib cage being positioned over the top of the pelvis. If the rib cage flares out, we have an open scissors posture, which unfortunately prevents the diaphragm from communicating effectively with the pelvic floor.
Bringing the rib cage back to its neutral position allows for better communication between the two. This creates an opportunity for them to work together more effectively.
Breathing and What’s Happening
When we inhale, we breathe oxygen into the base of our lungs. The diaphragm, a large dome-shaped muscle that separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity, flattens and compresses all the organs below it, increasing intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure isn’t just a belly breath; we need lateral rib cage expansion and posterolateral expansion to the back of the rib cage.
As the pressure travels downward, it reaches the pelvic floor, causing it to lengthen and relax. If the pressure doesn’t reach the pelvic floor, it won’t lengthen or relax as much as it should. As the pressure goes down, the transverse abdominis muscle, otherwise known as our natural weight belt, eccentrically lengthens.
When we exhale, the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominis muscle contract, creating a weight belt compression, while the outer abdominal muscles, including the six-pack muscles, contract. The rib cage comes down, and the belly button goes in, resulting in a nice core contraction.
Now that you understand the mechanics, envision that when we inhale, the pressure goes down all the way to the base of the pelvis, creating even pressure around the abdomen. This intra-abdominal pressure is fundamental for core function and associated with pelvic floor function, bladder and bowel control, and efficient stabilization.
Think of the diaphragm and the pelvic floor as doing a rhythmic dance with all the surrounding muscles.
Ways to Optimize Core Function
There are many ways to optimize core function and get some feedback for this.
1. Use a TheraBand
One way to exercise is by using a TheraBand. To do this, you should place the band behind your rib cage, focusing on the area around T8, which is just below your sternum.
Next, pull the band slightly to create tension. You can cross the band at this point to make an angle of about 12 degrees, which matches the angle of your ribs. As you pull down on the band, try to breathe deeply into the back of your rib cage.
Breathe into the, while feeling this feedback to optimize your rib cage breathing.
2. Bring Your Legs up to a 90-degree Angle
The next progression is bringing your legs up to a 90-degree angle and feeling the rib cage expansion. Brind the xyphoid process (underneath the sternum) towards the floor as well as below the belly button.
As we breathe in and out, we want to feel the back of the rib cage. When we breathe in, we should feel that expansion. When we breathe out, we should bring the belly button in towards the spine.
To progress it
From this position, you can add a block or weight and add a punch. The serratus muscle deeply integrates with the diaphragm. Hold that for three seconds and then relax.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, those two exercises were really helpful. These are just two of many, but they can really begin to give you some awareness of your core function. How your rib cage and your pelvis work together in unison, and how all of these muscles are based on sequencing and timing, and coordination.
Our core isn’t strong or weak; holding a plank for five minutes does not mean your core is strong. That’s not the way we test the core. Understanding this beautiful representation of how these have to work together is the way we optimize our core function.
Ultimately, this means decreasing the risk of injury, moving more efficiently, and optimizing your performance in life and sport.
So, if this was helpful, of course, make sure to 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.
Have you ever felt stressed or anxious but didn’t have the time or space to go for a walk or do a full meditation? Well, you’re not alone! Many of us face this challenge in our busy lives. The good news is that there are simple vagus nerve hacks that you can do at your desk to quickly regulate your nervous system, no matter the situation.
In today’s blog post, we will share five easy techniques that you can try right now to activate your vagus nerve and promote relaxation. While these techniques are not a replacement for physical activity, they can be a quick and effective way to calm your mind and body in a pinch.
So, grab a seat, take a deep breath, and let’s dive into these five simple vagus nerve hacks that you can start incorporating into your daily routine today. And don’t forget to check out our other resources on vagus nerve exercises and understanding this fascinating aspect of our nervous system!
Rather watch or listen?
5 vagus nerve hacks to do at your desk
1. The Salamander
One of my all-time favorite exercises for improving neck mobility, reducing pain and stiffness, and regulating the nervous system is called the Salamander. It’s a combination of Stanley Rosenberg’s Salamander exercise and some modifications I’ve found to be effective for many of my patients and clients.
To do the Salamander, interlace your fingers and place your hands at the back of your head on the occipital area. Next, side bend your upper body while looking in the opposite direction with your eyes. If this causes discomfort, such as headaches, eye pain, or dizziness, adjust your vision to a soft gaze. Hold this position for about 30 seconds before returning to the center and switching to the other side.
During the exercise, you may notice a yawn or a swallow, which is a sign of nervous system relaxation. After completing the Salamander, test your neck’s range of motion, and you’ll see an immediate improvement.
The Salamander works by providing neurological input from our eyes and hands to the brain stem, where the vagus nerve and the spinal accessory nerve are located. This stimulation increases blood flow to the area, which helps relax the neck and nervous system.
I highly recommend giving the Salamander a try if you’re experiencing neck discomfort or nervous system dysregulation. It’s a simple yet effective exercise that can make a big difference in how you feel.
This is one of my favorite exercises because it can be quite effective, and no one knows what you’re doing. It’s a self-limiting vagus nerve exercise, meaning it can only have a positive effect, and nothing can necessarily go wrong.
Generating a copious amount of saliva is, in fact, a parasympathetic response. If you have trouble generating saliva, it can indicate that you might be in a fight-or-flight state. However, with a little effort, you can proceed with the exercise.
First, place your tongue at the roof of your mouth and press against it through your mouth. Keep pressing against the teeth, and you’ll start to generate some saliva. You can also think about something appealing, like a juicy lemon or orange, to stimulate saliva production.
Once you’re able to produce saliva, let your tongue bathe in it for a while before ultimately swallowing it. Swallowing is a sign of nervous system relaxation. The pharyngeal branch of the vagus nerve innervates the back of the throat, and this exercise stimulates it. It’s typically a self-limiting exercise, making it easy and beneficial to do.
In this technique, I will be discussing a basic breathing method that involves a short inhale and an extended exhale. While there are many different breathing techniques, such as 4-7-8 breathing and box breathing, it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs and situation.
If you’re feeling a bit anxious at work due to having multiple tasks to complete and want to calm your system down, this method is great for you. On the other hand, if you need to be alert and focused for an upcoming meeting, box breathing might be more suitable.
For this technique, imagine taking a small inhale and exhaling for about double the length of the inhale. There’s no exact time that you need to follow, but the extended exhalation will stimulate the vagus nerve, which releases a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, resulting in a relaxation response. The vagus nerve passes through the diaphragm, so practicing this extended exhale is an effective way to quickly calm your nervous system.
However, some people may feel a sense of air hunger when attempting this technique. This happens when your body struggles to maintain the proper amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. If you experience this, simply return to normal breathing for at least a minute before trying again. Even doing three breaths in this manner can be a powerful way to calm your system. Feel free to check out my videos on breathing for more techniques to suit your needs.
Hand reflexology is one of my favorite techniques, and it has its roots in Eastern medicine. There are specific reflexology points all over the body, including one on the hand and another on the bottom of the foot, that are related to the vagus nerve.
If you’re sitting at your desk, it’s really easy to try this technique out – I’ve even done it while in the car, using the same hand. To begin, locate the reflexology point on the inside of your pinky finger. You can work on either side, so choose the one that feels more comfortable for you. Starting from this position, you can begin by making slow circles or rubbing back and forth. Then, you can apply more pressure to go deeper or just use a feather-light touch.
You don’t have to use all of these techniques – you can try one, two, or all three of them, depending on what works best for you. If you don’t have time to use both hands, you can just use your thumb to apply pressure.
It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will have the same response to this technique. If you don’t feel anything right away, don’t worry – it might just mean that your nervous system isn’t responding at the moment. Give it time and be patient. The key is to try it out for yourself and see if it works for you.
The ear pull is an incredibly powerful technique that is both a vagus nerve exercise and a craniosacral exercise. To perform the ear pull, grab the earlobe and gently pull it back and out while holding that position. You will likely have a response almost immediately, and you can hold that position until you feel satisfied. If you prefer, you can hold the position for about a minute or two.
Another technique that you can try is massaging inside the ear. This technique is particularly powerful because the vagus nerve has branches in the ear, making it one of the direct ways to stimulate it. By pulling the ear, it influences fluids in your brain and affects the membranes as a craniosacral technique.
My patients have experienced a lot of positive responses with these techniques, and I hope they can be helpful to you as well. Don’t forget to check out all of my vagus nerve exercises and videos for more techniques to try.
I hope that you will give these a shot, and just remember that this is a way for you to begin to learn about your own nervous system—how to regulate and control your state.
If this was helpful, please give it a like and a share. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. Thank you!
Have you ever stopped to think about how important your big toe is? Sure, it may seem like just another digit on your foot, but the truth is, it plays a crucial role in your body’s overall function. In fact, the big toe, also known as the first MPJ or metatarsophalangeal joint, is responsible for a lot more than you might realize.
So, if you’re curious to learn more about the amazing things your big toe can do, then stick around because we’re about to dive into the fascinating world of foot function.
Rather watch or listen?
Why is the big toe important?
As Dr. Emily Splichal, founder of EBFA Global and Naboso Technology, would say, the big toe is our linchpin in movement efficiency. It is so vital for us to be able to transfer force efficiently, prevent injury, and move with fluidity, and hopefully continue to age gracefully as we get older.
What are the pathologies that can present with the big toe?
The big toe can be affected by various pathologies. One common condition is big toe arthritis, which affects the first metatarsal phalangeal joint. If left untreated, arthritis can worsen and eventually lead to a self-fusion due to prolonged joint centration issues and inflammation.
Another pathology that can affect the big toe is a bunion. This condition arises when there is instability in the metatarsal cuneiform joint, causing the metatarsal to shift outward and the big toe to deviate from its natural alignment. Over time, this can result in pain and discomfort in the joint.
It is important to maintain an optimal joint position for any joint in the body, including the big toe. This is known as joint centration. For the big toe to function optimally, it should be in a proper alignment.
Biomechanics of toe joint (phalangeal joint)
When we are moving, we want this joint to slide, glide, and jam. For example, when we’re walking and pushing off in our gait cycle, if we are missing the glide of the 1st metatarsal, then the joint will jam too early. If it doesn’t move into plantar flexion (towards the ground) during toe off, the jamming will eventually cause pain or some type of pathology.
Our big toe is essential for dynamic activity, such as walking, stairs, lunging, running, or jumping. All of our dynamic activity is driven by how well we can move this toe. The glide is affected by a spiraling pattern that occurs in our foot. This, in turn, affects our spiraling all the way up the kinetic chain. Any dysfunction in this spiraling pattern will influence how this toe and the first metatarsal glide.
It’s essential to note that the anterior tibialis muscle and the peroneus longus create a unique stirrup on the foot, and any dysfunction in that stirrup or spiraling pattern will affect how this joint glides.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to recognize the significance of your big toe in your movement. It’s responsible for providing 30 degrees of range of motion for walking, with a normal range being around 60 degrees.
Without an optimal range of motion, wearing high heels can be incredibly painful, as it requires 90 degrees of range. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an optimal range of motion for walking, which requires at least 30 degrees. By recognizing the importance of your big toe in movement, you can better understand how to support it properly.
Secondly, if you have any pathology related to your big toe, it’s essential to address the underlying cause to prevent it from persisting. This could be anything from stiffness to pain, and it’s crucial to identify the root cause to develop an effective treatment plan.
Lastly, to truly address any issues related to your big toe, it’s important to look at the root causes of the pattern you’re experiencing. This means examining the whole body and identifying how the pelvis is moving, how you’re rotating, and whether you have the mobility in the foot, ankle, and calf to spiral properly. By looking at these root causes, you can develop a more comprehensive approach to addressing any issues related to your big toe and supporting the optimal movement.
The Bottom Line
Your big toe plays a crucial role in movement, and recognizing its significance is essential to maintaining optimal mobility and preventing any related pathologies.
If you found this helpful, please give it a like and share it, and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for more weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.
Breathing — it’s something we all do without even thinking about it. But what if we told you that it could be your superpower? That’s right! Mastering your breath can lead to a host of benefits for your health and overall well-being.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about one of my absolute favorite topics: breathing is your superpower. We’ll also explore some simple yet effective tips to help you improve your airway, optimize your breath, and ultimately enhance your life. So sit back, take a deep breath, and let’s dive in.
Rather watch or listen?
It’s important to remember that we breathe 25,000 times a day, making it our most frequent activity. Breathing is our first motor program, and we do it both consciously and unconsciously. Therefore, we have a significant amount of control over our breath. However, we should not solely focus on the amount of oxygen we inhale. We should also consider the incredible gas exchange that occurs and our ability to maintain the right amount of carbon dioxide in our bloodstream.
Assessing Your Breathing
The first thing that we can do is the control pause test. However, you should only perform this test if you feel safe doing it and you do not have any medical conditions that may warrant medical clearance or supervision. It’s important to make sure that it’s appropriate for you.
Here’s a brief explanation of the test: take a natural inhale through your nose and out through your nose. After exhaling, pinch your nostrils and hold your breath and count until you feel the urge to breathe again. Then, take another inhale through your nose. The purpose of the test is to identify how much time it takes for you to have your very first urge to breathe, or sense of air hunger.
If the time is under 10 seconds, it is considered a severe breathing impairment that should be evaluated. If it’s between 10 and 20 seconds, it is still a significant breathing impairment. Ideally, you want the time to be above 30 seconds for optimal breath and airway function for life and health.
If you’re experiencing breathing issues such as sleep apnea, congestion, chronic allergies and sinusitis, chronic pain, anxiety, or depression, they can be associated with breathing difficulties and airway dysfunction.
First, I would recommend assessing your breathing, as we just went through. But beyond that, there are so many things you can do to optimize your breathing.
When you breathe diaphragmatically, you inhale through your nose with your tongue on the roof of your mouth and gently touching your top teeth and your abdomen expanding 360 degrees. This means your rib cage also expands laterally in the back, which is called posterolateral expansion. This expansion creates intra-abdominal pressure, which provides core stability for optimal force transfer, posture, and even mood and nervous system benefits.
While we may not always achieve full expansion, it’s crucial to consistently feel that breath pattern throughout the day. We breathe 20 to 25,000 times daily, so understanding the basic pattern of diaphragmatic breathing is essential. There is no sense in doing advanced breathing techniques if this is faulty.
Other Breathing Techniques
While diaphragmatic breathing is fundamental, many other breathing variations, such as 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing, resonant breathing, and coherent breathing, can also benefit your breathing. However, it’s essential to first understand and master the basic diaphragmatic breathing technique.
Okay, now that you’ve assessed your breathing, let’s focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your nose. Check if your chest is moving or if your abdomen is expanding. You have already done the control pause test, so you now have an idea of how difficult it is for you to breathe. If you experience many pelvic floor issues and cannot get your breath down to the pelvis, we need to investigate further.
There are various types of airway dysfunctions, including small nasal valves, a deviated septum, a small airway, or jaw misalignment. If the jaw is pressing back or protruding, it can contribute to a shift in your airway. Other potential issues include large tonsils, adenoids, and sinus problems. These obstructions can hinder proper breathing, so addressing them is important.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve your breathing. To get started, let’s take a look at my little toolkit.
Xlear Nasal Spray
One highly recommended nasal spray is Xlear. It is a saline and Xylitol spray that helps to kill bacteria while keeping the nasal cavity moist. Using Xlear twice daily can help protect your immune system and open up your airway up to 35% compared to saline alone.
In case of exposure to allergies, sickness, or illness, you can use Xlear Rescue Nasal Spray. It has oregano, parsley, and xylitol, which can help kill bacteria and keep the nasal cavity healthy. This is meant for short-term use. If you are someone who experiences these things frequently, this is a must!
Mutes are small nasal dilators that can help open up the airway by up to 38 percent. These devices are placed in the nose, especially during sleep, to open up the airway from the nasal valve perspective. Mutes can improve sleep and breathing, especially for people who suffer from a dry throat or constant sickness.
If using Mutes works well, you can try expanding to mouth taping. Consider this an evaluation at first; once you’ve evaluated the nasal valves and they are successful, then you can explore the taping during waking hours only at first. Other options if Mutes are unsuccessful could be Breathe Right strips. If you have assessed that it was a huge improvement, you could try mouth taping.
Nexcare is a good brand for sensitive skin and works really well. You can try it during the day to see if you can tolerate it. However, if you have a severe nasal obstruction or airway obstruction, you may not be able to tolerate it, and it’s not safe. So, it’s important to be objective about your analysis and know that great resources are available to evaluate your airway and take the next steps to know exactly what’s happening in your airway.
Don’t Settle for Poor Breathing
Breathing is the foundation of life, movement, and overall health. If you’re not breathing properly, and you’re not nasal breathing, there are so many implications on your health. So, you want to make sure that you assess your breathing objectively and find the right support to help you on your breathing journey. This could look very different for many people, whether it’s orthotics, mouth taping, or getting their deviated septum repaired.
Don’t settle for just being a mouth breather or snoring at night. Think about the implications for your health!
If this was helpful, make sure you give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Please reach out to us for any help with your breathing, health, or movement. We would love the opportunity to help you improve your energy.
I hope that this was helpful. If you love eggs, definitely give it a like, give it a share, and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. I look forward to seeing you next time.
Did you know that mechanical issues at the level of your cervical spine can influence the proper function of your vagus nerve? This can ultimately affect your blood pressure, heart rate, gut issues, anxiety, depression, and more. Essentially, this is yet another potential underlying cause that you may want to explore as the root of your vagal nerve dysfunction.
Rather watch or listen?
As we know from our vagus nerve anatomy, the vagus nerve exits the brainstem. As it comes forward through this jugular foramen, it branches into the ear and throat. Then it comes actually down right through the front of the neck before it enters the heart, lungs, and digestive track.
What happens when there is a restriction in mobility?
Any restriction in mobility can create mechanical pressure and, therefore, neuroinflammation of the vagus nerve. For example, forward head posture can create compression of the vagus nerve. If you are sitting at a desk all day, have an airway dysfunction such as a deviated septum, small nasal valves, enlarged turbinates, tonsil and adenoid issues, could influence forward head posture.
We also want to think about forward head posture as a result of the nervous system. If we are stressed, anxious, and depressed, that will also lend itself to a forward head posture, potentially a rounded posture.
Breathing and posture are interdependent on each other. If there’s a breathing issue, there’s a posture issue; if there’s a posture issue, there’s a breathing issue.
What can you do if you have posture issues
1. Body awareness
We can become aware of how we hold our bodies throughout the course of the day. We can become in tune with our postures and our positions, how long we’re there, and be able to simply just check-in.
2. Addressing the issue
The second thing is addressing or exploring what airway issues may be present for you. If you are suspicious of this, seek out a professional to evaluate you.
At the minimum, try Mutes, a nasal dilator at night, to open the airway up to 38 percent, along with Xlear. It is important to reinforce nasal breathing.
3. Try these vagus nerve hacks
There are many ways to stimulate the vagus nerve, and I’ve done several blogs and videos on different exercises that can be very helpful.
When your lymph is congested, this can cause inflammation of the vagus nerve.
With your hand moving in a diagonal direction under your jawline towards your ear, traction the tissue up very gently. Move the skin over the tissue.
Hold that position until you have some release. This may come in the form of a sigh, swallow, yawn, or a feeling of just a sense of relaxation. It will immediately bring your neck into a better position and could potentially relieve not only mechanical pressure on the vagus nerve but the other cranial nerves and even spinal nerves as well.
● Salamander exercise
This is a version of Stanley Rosenberg’s exercise that I found to be extremely helpful. You’re stimulating the vagus nerve while also relaxing the spinal accessory nerves.
To do this exercise, interlace your fingers and bring them behind the back of your head. From this position, side-bend your upper body, and look with your eyes in the opposite direction. Hold that position for 30 seconds, and then you’ll come back to the center and repeat on the other side.
You want to check your range of motion in your neck before and after, and there should be an immediate improvement.
This provides neurological input from your eyes and your hands to the back of your head. It brings blood flow to the brain stem, where the vagus nerve and other cranial nerves exit. This creates a relaxation response as well as stimulates the spinal accessory nerve to create relaxation in the Sternocleidomastoid muscle and the upper trap muscle.
The mechanical influence of how your neck is positioned, joint mobility, soft tissue elasticity, lymphatic congestion, and airway dysfunction can all influence your vagus nerve.
Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement, and if you’d like to reach out to us for a consultation, please do so we would love to help.
Have you been experiencing lateral hip pain—pain on the side of your hip—perhaps when you are lying on your sides, sleeping, after you’ve gone for a walk, or even after you’ve got up from sitting? Today, we’ll discuss greater trochanteric bursitis—what it is and also, more importantly, the causes and what you can do about it.
Rather watch or listen?
What is hip bursitis?
We have a bone that’s right on the side of our femur, our leg bone, called the greater trochanter, where we have muscle attachments. On that bone, there is something called a bursa, which is essentially a fluid-filled sac. When we have friction over time or poor tensioning on the bone, this can ultimately contribute to inflammation in the bursa, i.e., bursitis.
The specific muscle that attaches to the greater trochanter on the side of the hip called the TFL, tensor fascia lataee. This muscle tends to get very tight. Why does it tend to get very tight on many people? Often it is due to the significant amount of sitting we do.
Now, that’s not the only reason. However, when we are in a seated position, that muscle is in a shortened position. Most people sit seven to eight or more hours a day, between driving to work, sitting at work, and even watching TV at night. Therefore, that muscle is not able to get that proper length-tension throughout the day, the elasticity, and the tissue.
Now, when this muscle starts to get tight, it can contribute to a lot of things. Often what will happen is it will pull the hip forward in the joint because of its attachment, so it’s essentially pulling the femur forward in the socket. It can create a global tightness, or facilitation. This creates a perpetual cycle of instability around the area.
This means that there is poor sequencing or coordination at the timing of how things are actually firing. Our core functions as an integrated unit —we have our diaphragm, pelvic floor, deep hip stabilizers, transversus abdominus, psoas, and our multifidus. When we start to have movement compensations, pain, and tension, in one area, it can really throw off the whole system.
What contributes to hip bursitis?
What are some of the other things that can contribute to this?
Besides sitting too much, is, of course, mechanics. As I mentioned with everything relating to the core, we also want to think about your feet.
Many times, not always, greater trochanteric bursitis will present in someone who has more of an unstable foot. This is called an everted foot type, otherwise known as a flat foot type. If we are collapsing inward at our feet, the hips are internally rotating, which is the action of the TFL muscle. One of its roles is to internally rotate. So, therefore, it can again exacerbate the condition.
It can also be somebody that has a neutral foot type but has lost stability and strength in their foot because they’re wearing socks and shoes all the time.
Lastly, we want to think about how these things work together. So one of the things that I see often is that the deep front fascial line that starts from the bottom of the feet that comes all the way up to the pelvic floor, diaphragm, hip stabilizers, and up to the neck, is normally impacted. In summary, it’s important to look at building your foundation and not just treat the symptoms.
Hip bursitis management and exercises
We want to remember that if you’re having pain with sleeping, it isn’t being caused by the sleeping or the mattress. It’s really caused by something happening in your body, but sleeping is the aggravating factor.
With that said, you can modify your sleeping position so that it’s not just causing additional pain. If you normally sleep on your side, try putting a pillow between your knees to keep your hips level.
Check out the video for how to perform these.
1. TFL release
Use a ball on the TFL to to create and inhibition of the muscle. Hold this position for approximately two minutes and breathe into it to really allow yourself to relax. You want to have the leg naturally rotated in, so you’re emphasizing that muscle.
2. Hip mobilization
When we start to have this faulty pattern, the hip shifts forward and up. After relaxing the tissues, now mobilize the joint, bringing it to an optimally centrated position. Rock forward away from the band for 15 reps and to the side for 15 reps, while trying to keep the back nice and relaxed, breathing throughout the process.
Now most importantly after that, you want to stabilize. Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the best ways to do this.
This is where we want to integrate the foot with the core, i.e. short foot.
To perform this, you want to think about using your breath to allow yourself to really engage your foot with your core. Inhale, relax your foot completely, and then exhale and gently rooting the tips of the toes into the ground. You’d repeat this anywhere from five to eight times, ensuring you feel that connection and have the appropriate hip, knee, and ankle alignment.
If this is not appropriate for you based on your foot type or pathology, you can also do a heel rise with the ball squeeze.
This is also a version of a short foot, but to perform this, you are trying to focus on locking your foot in a nice rigid position. This is exactly what is supposed to happen when you are walking, running, or doing dynamic movements. But if it’s weak or unstable, this will contribute to bursitis.
So how often would you do this?
Initially, every day. This is an easy little sequence, doesn’t take a lot of time, and you’re beginning to work on fixing the root of it, while also treating the symptoms.
That’s always a win-win, and that’s really what physical therapy should be.
If you found this blog helpful, make sure to show your support by giving it a like, sharing it with others, and leaving a comment to let us know. Don’t forget to also subscribe to our YouTube channel for more valuable content.
Are you experiencing jaw pain, and you continue to seek solutions, but you just can’t seem to get to the bottom of it? Here are three reasons why you may have jaw pain.
Rather watch or listen?
What You Need To Know About Paw Pain
The most common thing you may be aware of is that you’ve been clenching or grinding, whether at night or during the day. Perhaps your dentist has told you that you’ve been grinding?
Here are three primary causes that will help you to uncover the underlying causes of your pain.
Causes of Jaw Pain
Stress can contribute to clenching and/or grinding. This can also be associated with poor vagal tone or poor parasympathetic activity.
Often, these are associated, and there’s a correlation with the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve can specifically act as a sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve.
The trigeminal nerve actually innervates the skin of the face, the mucosa, and the nasal cavity, and so it has a very deep connection with the vagus nerve. Therefore, it actually produces specific neurotransmitters, so when there’s a dysfunction of the trigeminal nerve, it can be associated with some mood issues and neuropsychiatric disorders.
When there’s a miscommunication between these two nerves, often influenced by stress or trauma, then this can contribute to clenching and grinding.
2. Airway dysfunction
One of the biggest causes of jaw pain, and often overlooked, is an overbite, underbite, poor tongue posture, tonsil issues, small nasal valves, or a deviated septum. There are so many potential airway dysfunctions that could be contributing to your jaw pain, so it is very important that if you’ve had chronic jaw pain, you have your airway evaluated by a specialist. That can help you breathe, move and sleep better.
3. Lack of stability in the body
Finally, one of the reasons why you may have jaw pain is compensation for lack of stability somewhere else in the body. Most commonly, there’s a deep connection to the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor is very overactive, and is not sequencing, relaxing, and contracting the way it should, there can often be associations with the clenching and grinding within the jaw.
And so, let’s take the example of you standing on one leg. If you’re trying to stand on one leg and you’re really out of balance, your body is going to figure out some mechanism to be safe.
When you have jaw pain, or any other pain for that matter, you really want to dig deeper and find out why so that you can treat the underlying cause. Identifying the root cause will help you become pain-free, live an active lifestyle, breathe better, sleep better, eat better, and do all the wonderful things you deserve.
If this was helpful, please give it a like and a share, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.
If you need help on your journey, we would love the opportunity to help, so please reach out to us for a discovery session, and we can help you get on the right path.
Biohacking is all the rage right now. But what’s it really about? Essentially, biohackers are people who are interested in the best ways to live healthier, happier, and more productive and purposeful lives.
Here are ten of my favorite biohacks that you should consider using for the new year 2023 to help you gain greater health, vitality, longevity, and well-being.
Rather watch or listen?
If you’ve watched my videos, you know that these are some of my favorite things, but not only are they my favorites, these are things that are evidence-based and proven over and over again to be effective for your overall mental, emotional, and physical health and longevity.
So yes, you may want to look better and feel better, but ultimately you want to be able to do the things in your life that you want to do, right? You don’t want to be held back, and therefore, we cannot take our health for granted. All of the things that I’m going to mention today are so easy to integrate that there’s really no excuse not to do them.
I’m not asking to spend hours a day, rather, focus on these simple strategies that you can easily integrate into your life and make huge improvements in your health.
10 biohacks you should try this 2023
1. Track your heart rate variability
Track your heart rate variability. Essentially, this you’re tracking your vagal tone. There are many options: Whoop, Oura, Fitbit, or an Apple Watch, just to name a few.
One of my favorites is the app Elite HRV, which I use along with a chest monitor. When you wake up in the morning, you can assess your heart rate variability, resting heart rate, and readiness for the day. This allows you to make very intentional changes in your life. Did I sleep well? Did I eat well? How much stress am I under? You can track the trends of your overall health and how it is affecting your resiliency day to day. This is one of the best objective measures that we can use to assess vagal tone, track your overall health, and be able to ultimately make changes accordingly.
2. Optimizing your sleep
Sleep should be a non-negotiable, but I’m going to give you my quick tips for optimizing your sleep.
Number one, get blue light blockers. You want to wear them after 7 PM because, realistically, you’re going to be using your phone or your TV, so get blue light blockers to eliminate the blue light at night. The blue light is ultimately stimulating the receptors in your eye to signal that it is morning.
Number two, when you wake up in the morning, you either want to get 20 minutes of natural sunlight within the first 20 minutes or if you can’t do that and that’s not realistic, get a SAD light that has at least 10,000 lux and set it up as you’re getting ready in the morning or brushing your teeth. You want to optimize your natural cortisol peak in the morning and, ultimately, your melatonin production that night.
This is really important for sleep optimization, and of course, there are many other sleep tips, but these are critical.
3. Vagus nerve stimulation
When it comes to vagus nerve stimulation, you can look at all of my different videos. I have over 50 different vagus nerve exercises, but I will perhaps come back to my favorite — the one and only diaphragmatic breathing.
When we are breathing diaphragmatically, we are stimulating the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve runs right through the diaphragm, and we release a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, creating a relaxation response.
You can tap into breathing anywhere, anytime, and for most people, it is a very effective tool in regulating your nervous system. However, please check out all my other videos on vagus nerve exercises because there are countless exercises that you can do that are extremely effective. Nonetheless, you want to think about how you can regulate your nervous system in the New Year.
4. Lymphatic drainage
This is one of the easiest things you can do because you can basically do it anywhere, including in the shower. You can do it right before or after you get out of the shower. It’s such a gentle and quick technique.
You can check my other lymph blogs or videos for more specific details on how to do that.
5. Strength training
This is something that I will say repeatedly; strength training is the best aging-gracefully strategy you can do. We want to think about how our muscles are influencing our longevity because as we get older, we lose muscle mass; that’s called sarcopenia.
Strength training and optimal protein intake are what allows us to maintain that muscle mass, optimize bone density, and be able to generate force, and adapt to life’s demands without injury. It is one of the most important things that I suggest and doing so in a safe program that includes mobility, strength, and stability all wrapped up in one so it doesn’t take a lot of extra time.
Walking always gets overlooked. It is one of the best forms of exercise that we can do. It is a low-intensity exercise that is great for fat loss, aerobic capacity, and emotional regulation because of its rhythmical nature. It’s what we’re designed to do from a movement perspective.
Work towards a movement mindset. Figure out how many steps you’re taking a day right now. Get your baseline and try to work towards getting 8,000–10,000 steps a day.
If you’re working out of the gym in between sets, take a few laps. If you are parking at the grocery store, park farther away. There are many ways to increase your steps, movement, and overall activity and stimulate your fascial tissue.
There are so many amazing things about walking. It’s often overlooked, but it is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body.
This is one of the best things that you can have in your toolbox, especially if you’ve suffered from more immune issues this year. This is such a great preventative and treatment that you could use.
I recommend the Daily Rinse, which you would do twice daily. If you are exposed to someone that’s sick, you’re in larger crowds, or if there’s some for a particular reason why you may need a little bit more of a boost — you’re at an airplane or you get sick, then you want to use the Rescue. Saline alone can actually dry out the nasal cavity so where the xylitol helps to kill bacteria and moisten the nasal passages.
I also recommend Mutes. They are fantastic for opening the airway; they can open the airway up to 38 percent to improve nasal breathing, which of course, we know is so important for everything in your body: your core function, nervous system, and your sleep. You can get a trial pack to determine the best size for you.
Naboso is a specific technology designed to stimulate the small nerves in your hands and feet. It helps to improve balance, gait, and movement efficiency. We need sensory information to create optimal movement.
You can use the ball, the splay, recovery socks, or the mats. I highly recommend this, so please make sure you incorporate this into your life so that you can enjoy improved movement.
I talk about this all the time, but it is so important to have the optimal amount of protein per day, to increase muscle mass, prevent sarcopenia, help with bone density, and help with lean body composition.
We want lean muscle versus increased fat tissue because fat tissue is actually inflammatory. Almost every patient I’ve ever worked with is undereating protein.
We want to think about getting that protein from ethically sourced animal sources that contain all of your essential amino acids. To calculate your protein goal on your own, you would use your ideal body weight.
For women, the ideal body weight is a hundred pounds for the first five feet and five pounds per every inch after that. So if you were 5’3”, it would be 115 pounds. (115 g Protein/day)
For men, it’s 106 pounds for the first five feet and six pounds per inch after that. So, if you were 5’10” as a male, your ideal body weight would be 166. (166 g Protein/day)
This will vary among people depending on their goals and their activity, but this is a really good start.
10. 1st Phorm Micro Factor
Most often, of course, people need supplementation because we’re not getting the nutrients from our food as we once did. Additionally, most people aren’t consuming all the nutrients they need on a regular basis.
So Micro Factor has been awesome for me and for my patients. Essentially, it has a multivitamin, antioxidant, CoQ10, fruits and vegetables, essential fatty acids, and probiotics, and it comes in a handy little packet. It makes it easy to travel and to be able to grab everything you need without having tons of bottles of supplements.
This can be a great addition to your routine. If this is appropriate, sometimes I have people take the probiotic out if they’re having certain gut issues, and they might have to use a specific probiotic strain, but if you’re just looking for general wellness and health, this is a great pick. You can check it out here.
I hope you found at least one tip that you can apply in the New Year.