How to Map Your Own Nervous System: The Polyvagal Theory

With anxiety, depression and stress on the climb, have you ever wondered how you can understand your reactions to life’s challenges and stressors? Or maybe you wondered how you can become more resilient? Did you know that you can map your own nervous system? This is such a powerful tool that can help you shift the state of your nervous system to help you feel more mindful, grounded, and joyful during the day, and more importantly during your life. Before we discuss how to map your nervous system, let’s break down the autonomic nervous system a bit more.

The terms “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” are typically what we refer to when discussing this autonomic nervous system. However, there are three different aspects of the autonomic nervous system referred to as the polyvagal theory, developed by Dr. Stephen Porges. The vagus nerve, referred to as the wandering nerve in Latin, is one of the longest nerves that originates in the brainstem and innervates the muscles of the throat, circulation, respiration, digestion and elimination. The vagus nerve is the major constituent of the parasympathetic nervous system and 80 percent of it’s nerve fibers are sensory, which means the feedback is critical for the body’s homeostasis. This amazing vagus nerve is constantly conveying information back to our brain. For example, when we take slow deep breaths, we are stimulating the vagus nerve. This will cause the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which signals back to the brain to create this relaxation response. Pretty amazing, wouldn’t you say?

When we are in this stressed state or potentially anxious state, then we cannot be curious, or be empathetic at the same time. In addition to not being able to be empathetic or curious, we are also not able to bring the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function,  communicating, guiding, and coordinating the functions of the different parts of the brain, back online. This essentially means that we are not able to regulate our attention and focus. Sound familiar?

Three nervous system states

  1. First, our “fight and flight” response is our survival strategy, a response from the sympathetic nervous system. If you were going to run from tiger, for example, you want this response to save your life. When we have a fight response, we can have anger, rage, irritation, and frustration. If we are having a flight response, we can have anxiety, worry, fear, and panic. Physiologically, our blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline increase and it decreases digestion, pain threshold, and immune responses.
  2. Second, we have a “freeze” state, our dorsal vagal state, which is our most primitive pattern, and this is also referred to as our emergency state. This means that we are completely shut down, we can feel hopeless and feel like there’s no way out. We tend to feel depressed, conserve energy, dissociate, feel overwhelmed, and feel like we can’t move forward. Physiologically, our fuel storage and insulin activity increases and our pain thresholds increase.
  3. Lastly, our “social engagement” state is a response of the parasympathetic system, also known as a ventral vagal state. It is our state of safety and homeostasis. If we are in our ventral vagal state, we are grounded, mindful, joyful, curious, empathetic, and compassionate. This is the state of social engagement, where we are connected to ourselves and the world. Physiologically, digestion, resistance to infection, circulation, immune responses, and our ability to connect is improved.

Rather watch or listen than read?

Adapted by Dr Stephen Porges

As humans, we have and will continue to experience all of these states. We may be in a joyful, mindful state and then all of a sudden due to a trigger, be in a really frustrated, possibly angry state, worried about what may happen to then feeling completely shut down. This is human experience. We are going to naturally shift through the states.

However, when we stay in this fight or flight or this shut down/freeze state, that is when we begin to have significant physiological effects and also mental/emotional effects. As I mentioned earlier, this could be an emergency state. This can also be a suicidal state, if we are in this shut down mode for too long. If we are in a fight or flight state, we can have constant activation of our stress pathway, also known as the HPA axis, and we can really impact our stress hormones, sex hormones, our thyroid, etc. This stress will have significant inflammation effects on the body as well. All of these states can have considerable effect on our overall health, positive or negative, of course. Also, you can not get well if you are not in your “safe” state. No treatment intervention or professional will help you if you are not safe. This is why it’s really important to identify the states for each of you.

How can you map your nervous system?

  1. Identify each state for you.

The first step is to think of one word that defines each one of these states for you. For example, if you are in your ventral vagal state, this is also called the rest and digest state, you could say that you feel happy, content, joyful. etc.

When you are in your fight or flight state you could use the words worried, stressed, overwhelmed, etc.

In the freeze state you could use the words shut down, numb, hopeless, etc.

The first step is identifying the word that you correlate with each of those three states. This is really important because then you’re able to recognize which state you are in and identify with it quickly. This will allow you to really tune into your body and understand how you feel in that state, so you can help yourself get out of it.

2. Identify your triggers and glimmers.

You’ll want to identify triggers for your fight/flight state as well as your freeze state. These could be things like a fight with your boss, an argument with your spouse, a death of a loved one, if someone cuts you off while driving, etc. It is whatever things that cause you to feel stressed. You want to eventually have at least one trigger, if not many, written down for each of those states.

Glimmers are the things that bring you to that optimal nervous system state. It could be something as simple as petting a dog or something bigger like going on a vacation.

Click here for Deb Dana’s Worksheet to Map Your Nervous System

Summary

Once you can identify what those states are for you, then you can recognize what your triggers and glimmers are for that state. You can really begin to make a profound difference in your nervous system state. You can take ownership of what’s happening to your body, you can tune in to what’s happening, and know how to regulate your emotions and your responses to stress. Ultimately, this is how we can begin to develop resilience. This means being able to have respond appropriately to life’s challenges, go to that fight or flight state for a short period, and then return back to your state of social engagement. That should happen a few times a year not multiple times a day, or every day for that matter. To truly enjoy life, returning to your state of safety where you are mindful, grounded, and joyful, is a practice. It can start with mapping your own nervous system.  

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

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Other things that may interest you:

How to test your vagus nerve

How to improve your vagal tone

WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN

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

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

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

  1. 1st MPJ arthritis:

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

midsole

2. Bunion:

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

heel counter

3. Neuroma:

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

toe box

4. Plantar plate tear:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should you lift heavy weights

Why should you lift weights, but more importantly, why should you lift heavyweights? It can be so profound in not only your physical strength, but also your mental and emotional strength. Strength training can help improve your self-awareness, your confidence, your overall ability to create, to explore, to move through the world differently, and in a way that you are more resilient. You have better adaptability to change, stress, and loads. It can have a profound difference on your overall well-being.

Let’s dive into eight ways that lifting heavy can improve your health. 

1. Confidence

Lifting heavy weights has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression, and improve self-awareness and confidence. When you are lifting heavy and you are strong, you are going to move through the world differently. If you haven’t tried it, and you know someone that has, take a look at them and ask them about their experience with strength training and you will find the same thing. 

2. Increasing power and muscle mass

When you are strength training you are increasing your muscle mass. Many women will say that they want to get “toned.” In essence, that is increasing muscle mass. When we are stronger, that means that we can produce more force and we’re able to adapt to different loads more effectively. You will find that moving a heavy box or moving a couch is much easier because you have generated the ability, over time, to adapt to these loads and forces. 

3. Burn fat

We often think about burning calories. You’ll jump on the elliptical or go for a run and you’re  thinking about how many calories you’ll burn during that session, for example. Instead, we want to be thinking about burning fat, and also burning calories well beyond that particular exercise session. This does not mean that cardiovascular activity is bad. It just means that we can get a ton of benefit from strength training well after the actual session. After a session, our body still has to continue to repair the muscle, and it’s still burning energy. Therefore, we’re burning more calories and fat after an exercise session than we are in an aerobics session, for example, that we’re only doing that in that particular session. 

4. Increase in muscle size, i.e. hypertrophy

For each pound of muscle we have, we’re going to burn an additional six to 10 calories per day just for it to maintain itself. This can be powerful in fat loss. This is the reason you want to start strength training early. So, if you have kids that are just getting into fitness you want them to start strength training early because it can have a profound impact on their bodies later in life. This is because the more muscle they gain, over the years, the better their metabolism is going to be and the more muscle mass they’re going to have. It can be so powerful to start early in life, but it’s never too late. 

5. Improved bone density 

This is one of the most powerful things that we can do for our bone health. If you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, please don’t hesitate to start a strength training program. Of course, you also want to prevent these things. Strength training can help our bone mass as we age, to prevent things like fractures and things that can completely impact our quality of life. 

6. Fight aging

Each decade after the age of 35, we are losing anywhere from 3-10% of our lean body mass. However, if we are lifting heavy weights we can preserve that lean body mass and even reverse some muscle loss. 

7. Improve our brain health

Lifting heavy weights can increase our growth hormone which can help with cognitive processing and function. It can help to decrease the cognitive changes that we may experience as we age. 

8. Improve our resilience

It can help us to decrease and prevent injuries by improving the adaptability of our tissues. We’re loading tissues so that we can become more resilient. In life, we constantly have to load and stress our tissues for them to remain healthy, strong, and elastic. If we don’t load them properly that’s when we begin to get into an injury cycle. So one of the most important things to preventing injury is lifting weights and specifically heavyweights. 

Hopefully, this was enough to get you started lifting weights if you’re not already and if you are please continue on that journey and remember to keep challenging yourself. You don’t want to do the same weights over and over again because you want your body continues to adapt to new stresses. Make sure that you’re challenging yourself with heavier weights and variability.

This goes without saying, but make sure not to add fitness on top of dysfunction. Get your movement patterns assessed and cleaned up before you start to load heavy.

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

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4 REASONS YOU SHOULD RECONSIDER NSAIDS

Do you have arthritis and you’ve been told by your physician that you should be taking some kind of anti-inflammatory and/or pain medications? You’ve maybe settled on Ibuprofen, or perhaps you have tried some prescription medications. Well, let’s talk about why we may want to reconsider.

Let’s start by saying that osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition. It is important to recognize all the potentially inflammatory triggers that could be impacting your pain and function: food, bugs, toxins, trauma (both physical and emotional), and hormone dysfunction. Let’s not forget the movement compensations over many years that are also contributing to your painful patterns. It is not simply that you have poor genetics, or you played football when you’re younger, or you hurt your knee many years ago. Those may play into it but they are definitely not the only driver and you do not need to be debilitated by your pain and function. There are many negative side effects of NSAIDs.

1. Impacts the GI System

It can significantly impact your GI system. It can affect the lining of the GI system, even in the stomach, and can contribute to GI bleeds. Now let’s remember that 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut. If you are negatively impacting your gut lining by taking NSAIDs regularly, then you are impacting your ability to regulate inflammation. Remember, osteoarthritis is inflammatory.

2. Linked to Heart Issues

NSAIDs have been linked to more heart attacks, strokes, and other heart-related conditions.

3. Affects Kidneys

It can impact your kidneys and the blood flow to the kidneys.

4. Decreases Pain Threshold

Your pain threshold is lower. So, what may have just been a little bit of pain, such as a one or two out of 10 is now a five or six. This is because you cannot manage or process pain as you could before with chronic NSAID use.

This goes without saying but physical therapists are the best way to improve your overall function, decrease pain, and help you to do exactly what you want to do. Please reach out to us we would love to help you. Also focusing on things like breathing, yoga, meditation, all of the things have been shown to help with being able to manage pain more effectively.

I know that you think I might suggest ice or heat, but we’re going to ditch those. Neither one of them is going to have a positive or therapeutic impact on your arthritis. It may feel good, but it is not doing anything to help. When you’re using ice it’s decreasing blood flow to the area creating vasoconstriction, so it does not decrease inflammation despite what people think. Also, heat can potentially bring a little bit of blood flow to the area, but it’s such superficial heat that it’s very minimal. Although it might feel good once again it is not necessarily doing anything to improve your function. You want to try to move as much as possible because that has been shown over and over again through research that is the most effective treatment for arthritis.

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

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What is SIBO?| Is this the cause of your digestive issues?

Have you heard about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but you don’t know what to do about it? You may be wondering  if this is the cause of your digestive issues? Is this what’s making you feel so terrible? Let’s start by saying that SIBO is very complex and there is not one easy roadmap to treat SIBO. It is really important to understand what it is, the anatomy behind it, the risk factors, some of the symptoms that you could experience, and most importantly, the underlying causes. SIBO is exactly what it sounds like, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. It is not necessarily an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, although it can be pathogenic, it is in essence, an overgrowth. The small intestine is meant for digestion and absorption of nutrients, where the large intestine is meant to house our beneficial bacteria. When we have a backflow of this bacteria into the small intestine, that’s when we can begin to overpopulate and have an overgrowth.

Let’s go over some brief functional anatomy so that you understand what’s happening. When you start chewing your food, you produce salivary enzymes to help begin the digestive process. The food is then passed through our esophagus, i.e. the food pipe, into the stomach. The stomach begins to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL) to break down the food even further. We have our gallbladder that releases bile to help break down the food moving into the small intestine. Our pancreas is also releasing enzymes to help further break down this food. Once the food moves into the small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet long, so it’s not small, digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. The small intestine connect into our large intestine. There’s an ileocecal valve that prevents any backflow. From here, we then move the food into our rectum for waste removal. We can think of the large intestine as the house for the good bacteria and our storage for waste and excretion.

What symptoms can you have with SIBO?

One of the most frequent complaints is bloating. This is when the gases build-up from the bacteria eating the food. When the gas is releases, it causes pressure or distension in the abdomen. The small intestine is not made for any kind of buildup. When this buildup occurs and we’re not able to process it or digest it properly, this is when you can begin to have symptoms of nausea and acid reflux. The other two symptoms that are very common are constipation and/or diarrhea. You may have both and it could be alternating, or you could gravitate more towards one or the other. This can often be referred to as SIBO-C or SIBO-D. In addition to all the common digestive complaints associated with SIBO such as constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, cramping, and abdominal pain, you can also have other health issues. This can range from skin issues to significant fatigue to anxiety or depression, and the list goes on.

What are the risk factors for SIBO?

1. Disease states. That can be an autoimmune disease or any other chronic disease that can be a driving factor.

2. Surgery. Specifically abdominal surgeries that create adhesions from scar tissue. This can impact the motility of the small intestine.

3. Medications. This can be any kind of pharmaceutical drugs or antibiotics that you may have been taking, chemotherapy, etc. All of these can drive SIBO.

Now, what are the underlying causes of SIBO?

This is often much more difficult to figure out, and sometimes requires a lot of investigation. The underlying cause essentially is when the system fails. When this protection mode and the normal process of digestion is not happening the way that it should. This can happen for various reasons.

1. If we do not have the appropriate amount of stomach acid in the stomach to be able to begin to break down food properly.

2. If there is an enzyme deficiency, which means that you do not have the capability of being able to break down food and absorb the nutrients.

3. The immune system. Seventy percent of the immune system is in our gut specifically in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). You can appreciate that if this system begins to fail and our immune system becomes more heightened, this can be an underlying cause of SIBO.

If you have IBS or have chronic digestive issues, you may look into this as a possible cause. You can get tested for SIBO here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Healthful habits

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

2) Be aware

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

3) Clarity

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

4) Take small action steps

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

5) Consistency

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

6) Celebrate

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

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

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

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

How to train your core without crunches

Did you know that you do not have to do crunches and sit-ups to train your core? In fact, crunches, sit-ups, and many other similar core exercises can negatively impact your core, especially if they’re not done properly. How you can train your core without doing crunches?

Let’s break the core down. We have our local stabilizers, global stabilizers, and global mobilizers. Our local stabilizers include our pelvic floor (base of our core), diaphragm (breathing muscle), multifidus (along the spine), transverse abdominals (like a corset), deep posterior psoas (hip flexor), and the deep hip stabilizers (deep five).  These muscles are close to the joint and isometrically contract to create stability and control the joint positioning. This improves what we refer to as joint centration, maintaining our joint on its center axis. Next, we have our global stabilizers. This includes our glute medius, obliques, spinalis muscles in the back, and quadratus lumborum. These muscles are also geared toward stabilizing, but they create more of an eccentric range of motion. They decelerate motion. Lastly, is our global mobilizers. This includes rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi, and quadriceps and so on.  These muscles produce force. They initiate force and movement. All of these are equally important. However, one has to come first, and that is the local stabilization. We have to be able to stabilize our joints to be able to produce force and power from a stable foundation. If you don’t have a stable foundation to operate from, injury will occur.

When we refer to the deep core and how it is intimately connected with your feet, and the rest of your body; I like to use the reference of the deep front fascial line. This connects from the bottom of the foot fascially all the way up through the inner thigh, pelvic floor, deep stabilizers, diaphragm, and even the neck. The beautiful representation of this fascial tensegrity is a great visual of how our body is connected, and how our feet are actually part of our core.

Another great way to appreciate this deep local stabilization and the importance of the local stabilization before the global stabilization is a hernia. Whether you or someone you know has had an umbilical hernia, inguinal hernia, abdominal hernia, or sports hernia; this is a perfect example of where the deep core was not stabilizing efficiently. There was so much stress on the outer core musculature and poor pressurization in the abdomen that it caused a tear in the abdominal wall, or in the case of a sports hernia in the fascial tissue. In the case of a sports hernia, which is very common but often much overlooked and misdiagnosed. The fascial tissue most often affected connects the rectus abdominus and  the adductor. The adductor muscle will have a mechanical advantage so when there is a loss of deep stability, it will create a tear in the fascia in the rectus sheath. You cannot rehab this since you’ve lost the integrity in this force transmission system.  It can only be surgically repaired.

Now, back to the deep stabilizers. It is important to train the deep inner local system before the deep outer global system to prevent things like hernias, back pain, hip pain, and neck pain You can have an optimal foundation to work from to generate force with power and be able to do the things that you want to do. If you are doing crunches, sit-ups, or leg lowers without a proper foundation, read on.

Here are five different exercises that you can incorporate into your routine or refine if you’re already doing them so that you do not need to do crunches and sit-ups, but you can do these exercises to maximize the potential of your core.

1) Diaphragmatic breathing with pelvic floor contraction. As you inhale lengthen the public floor, relax, and then as you exhale gently lift the pelvic floor about 20 percent contraction in the direction of your head. Repeat this for eight to ten breaths working on the coordination and rhythm of the breath with the pelvic floor contraction.

2) Step by step hollow. Take a breath in and flatten your back as you exhale. Take a breath in, exhale, and lift your head and shoulders, reaching through your fingertips. Take another breath in, exhale, and pull your hamstring in towards your body, and then repeat with the other side. If that feels appropriate there stay in that position for a couple of breaths. If you’d like to progress, take a breath in, exhale, and raise your arms overhead keeping the hollow position and the tension. Then reach with the other arm. If you’d like to go to the full progression if that feels appropriate to you, then you would extend one leg, and then extend the other leg.

3) Beast. The beast position is in a table position with your index finger parallel and spreading your fingers wide. Then corkscrew your shoulders, tuck your toes under, and lift your knees approximately two inches or so above the ground. Use your breath as your repetition. You can do this for as many breaths as you can hold. You can also progress into a crawling motion.

4) Side plank. This helps with lateral stability. The first progression is with your elbows underneath the shoulder, the bottom knee bent, and top leg straight. If you’d like to progress this you can go into a staggered stance or even a stacked posture.

5) Foot to core sequence. Standing on one leg in an athletic position, take a breath in, as you relax your foot relax your pelvic floor, exhaling rooting the toes into the ground. Repeat that for five to eight breath cycles. As you do that you’re rooting the tips of the digits into the ground. You can then move into a bowler or any other type of dynamic motion, inhaling back and exhaling short footing and coming back to the standing position.

There you have it, five different ways you can begin to shift your core training to focus on local stabilization before moving to global stabilization and movement. You can use these as ideas. There are endless exercises that can fit into this category but this is just to get you thinking a little bit differently about how to train your core the best way possible so that you can improve your performance, decrease your injury prevention, and feel your best.

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

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Which foot type are you?

Did you ever wonder what your foot type is? And if so, do you know the impact of your foot type on your movement, gait, and injury risk? How can you address your foot type so that you are maximizing your foundation, i.e your feet. You’ll want to connect your foundation with your core and integrate into your dynamic movement to stay injury-free.

We have three primary foot types;

  1. Everted foot type
  2. Neutral foot type
  3. Inverted foot type

None of these foot types are bad in and of themselves. However, it is important to understand the impact that it can have on function, as well as potential injuries.

On the left is the everted foot type which is associated with being unlocked and unstable. This foot type is typically classified as the flatter foot type or the more pronated foot.  The neutral foot type is in the middle, which is the optimal foot position. On the right is the inverted foot type which is associated with being locked, rigid, and stable. This foot type is commonly viewed as the high arched foot type.

Each foot type has different implications on movement and overall function. Therefore they should be addressed in an individualized manner. For example, if you have more of an everted foot type, a flatter, unstable foot, then the lateral structures of the lower legs will likely be tight. The outside of the lower leg and calf would need to be mobilized, and then the foot needs to be strengthened. In an inverted foot type, a locked, rigid foot type, it is important to mobilize the muscles on the inside of the calf and improve active ankle mobility to bring the foot into neutral. All of them will require some type of integration with your core and into dynamic movement.

There are exceptions to every rule, however, and there are different pathologies that you or someone you know may present with that need to be factored in. In addition to performing the appropriate exercises to balance your foot, you’ll also want your footwear to enhance your natural foot function, rather than replace it.  Your foot type, injury history, movement, and pathologies will determine which shoe would be best for you.

If you would like to understand what foot type you are and what to do about it please reach out for a 15-minute discovery session so that we can guide you on how we can help you on your journey.

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

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HOW TO GET YOUR FIRST PULL-UP

Have you convinced yourself that you’ll never be able to do a pull-up, or you’ve tried with bands and assistance, but you’ve been unsuccessful? With the right exercises, time, patience, dedication, and hard work, you can absolutely do a pull-up. Whether you’re a child, an adult, a man, or a woman, it doesn’t matter. You have the potential inside of you to do a pull-up. Pull-ups are one of the greatest human fundamental strength movements that we all can do. However, before you work on pull- up progressions, you do want to make sure that you have checked a few boxes. So, here are the boxes you need to check.

1) Do you have good shoulder and scapular mobility? To test this, see if you can get your arm completely overhead so that it is in line with your ear without pain or discomfort. If you can great, move on to the next box. If you can’t, that is what you want to start to work on first.

2) Do you have proper breathing mechanics? To test this, see if you can breathe through your diaphragm as you inhale. This means having 360 degrees of intra-abdominal pressure. When you inhale, your abdomen will expand like when filling a balloon. Then, as you exhale, you’re creating this abdominal tension as your ribs descend towards your hips and you’re actively pulling your belly button in towards the spine, thinking of it as a corset. If you are still breathing from your neck and shoulders, it will make it very challenging to do a pull up successfully.

3) Are you able to hold a hollow plank? Are you able to control your body weight in a closed chain position (hands connected to the floor) while breathing and creating optimal tension throughout the body. Can you be strong, but relaxed?

Once you check those boxes, now you want to make sure that you’re prepared for the pull-up. So, let’s start with shoulder CARS (controlled articular rotations). For shoulder CARS, you’ll want to have good tension through the ground, feet strongly connected and rooted in, and ribcage down. From here, starting with your right arm, taking a breath in, slowly bring your arm up, ribs coming down. When your arm is overhead, will first externally rotate, and then internally rotate keeping your arm as close to your body as you can, without losing this position.  Perform this next to the wall to maximize the effectiveness. The goal is to create this total-body tension to create active control of the shoulder. This will make sure your shoulders are prepped. Repeat for five in each direction.

Next, you can do the bear walk to make sure that you’re working on good scapular and shoulder control before pull-up progressions. Watch the video here to see how to perform this. Now, let’s get it to the five pull-up progressions you should do before completing a full pull-up.

Pull-up progression 1: Dead hang. For the dead hang make sure that your hands are in line with your shoulders when hanging from the bar, you’re in a slight hollow position maintaining your breath, and arms are in line with your ears. Aim to hold this for at least 30 seconds to a minute before going to the next progression.

Pull-up progression 2: Pull-up prep. This is a very key part of the pull-up. You want to maintain the same hanging position, and then lower your shoulder blades, and then raise them back up slowly with control. You want to make sure you are maintaining the same alignment the whole time with your head in between your arms. Repeat this for as many reps as you can with high quality.

Pull-up progression 3: Isometric hold. For the isometric hold, you’ll want to jump into the position by standing on something where you can reach the bar from. Once you grab onto the bar, pull yourself up using an underhand grip so your head is over the bar. (This grip is recommended to start before progressing to an overhand grip). You want to make sure you’re pulling the elbows down towards the ground maintaining that slight hollow position with a neutral head position you’re while breathing and head. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute.

Pull-up progression 4: Eccentrics. To work on strength, perform eccentric pull-ups. To do this slowly lower all the way to the bottom of the motion completely finishing it, and then returning to the top by standing on your block, so you can grab the bar again. You’re avoiding the concentric portion and just focusing on the eccentric portion. Make sure to maintain your hollow position, breathe, and keeping nice control. Repeat for as many reps as possible with control. Progress to five sets of five for three to six weeks.

Pull-up progression 5: Bringing it all together. Now you’ll begin to put these together, starting with an isometric hold into your eccentric, and then a pull-up prep.

Now you’re ready to perform the full pull-up! Finish the motion completely and finish with the pull-up prep at the bottom.

This may take you weeks to months depending on your level of fitness. Make sure to master the progressions before moving on.  

Pull-ups require patience, hard work, time, and dedication. However, I’m confident that you will be able to perform this movement while doing all of these progressions. Remember you still want to build overall strength, so make sure to incorporate other types of total body strength training to enhance your progressions and performance with this movement.  A common question is “should I do assisted pull-ups with bands?” They are not recommended because they do not build the fundamental strength required for a pull-up. Please make sure to not take any shortcuts and work on the progressions.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

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IS YOUR IBS ACTUALLY SIBO?

Have you been experiencing abdominal symptoms? Bloating? Cramping? Indigestion? Abdominal pain? Or maybe you are experiencing anxiety and depression? If so, you should know about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and how it is most often under-diagnosed as a source of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Many individuals have a diagnosis of IBS that they have been given at some point in their lives by a doctor and they are just trying to manage it on their own with no real solution to addressing the root cause. In most cases, IBS is in fact SIBO.  SIBO is a serious condition affecting the small intestine and happens when bacteria that normally grow in other parts of the gut, grow in the small intestine.  When you are diagnosed with IBS it’s really important to make sure that you get the proper testing and determine if this is one of your root causes. Let’s now talk about how you can tell if your IBS is actually SIBO.

Symptoms:

If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, bloating, digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, overall puffiness and discomfort around the abdomen, and even such symptoms as heartburn and acid reflux, it’s really important to get properly evaluated.

Testing:

You will have a breath test, which will determine if you have methane or hydrogen gas in your gut. The breath test will be over a series of a few hours.  After you ingest lactulose, depending on how it ferments in your gut, will determine what type of gas is produced and this will indicate whether or not you have SIBO.

Treatment:

If you have a diagnosis of SIBO or IBS, and you’re in the process of trying to determine how you can feel better, it’s highly recommended to go on a low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, and polyols) diet.  These are hard to digest fibers and sugars, and therefore do not pass through the small intestine well. In the colon, the high FODMAP foods will ferment and cause gas, and in the small intestine, they will pull water causing bloating and stretch in the intestinal area.

The first part of the low FODMAP plan a complete elimination of any moderate to high FODMAP foods. After the elimination phase, which can be anywhere from two to six weeks, then you can begin a reintroduction. You would reintroduce one FODMAP food at a time and see how your body tolerates it. After you’ve done that you can personalize your plan, and determine what foods are aggravating you and contributing to some kind of bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, etc. The first goal of the program is to decrease inflammation and symptoms and try to settle your system down. Once you do that, you can begin to transition into a personalization of the food plan.

After you’ve determined you may have SIBO and you have initiated a low FODMAP plan, you want to follow a 5R protocol for restoration. So, that would be removing the inflammatory triggers, replacing the digestive enzymes, reinoculating with good bacteria, replacing any nutrients that you may be deficient in, and also rebalancing your lifestyle factors. After you have worked through a 5R protocol, there is a chance that you may need to take an antibiotic, whether that’s herbal or conventional. The research shows that both an herbal or conventional antibiotic can be equally effective. It does depend on if your body is ready to support it, and if you are well enough to be able to handle the antibiotic.

Summary:

If you are a person that has had a diagnosis of IBS, or you’re dealing with a lot of abdominal symptoms and you really want to get to the bottom of it; it’s really important to consider SIBO as one of the possibilities. You want to make sure that you’re using this as a possible diagnostic tool to rule in or rule out, and to treat the root cause, as opposed to just treating your symptoms.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

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