6 REASONS TO UP YOUR PROTEIN

Let’s discuss one of my favorite nutrients, protein. This can be a very controversial nutrient especially as it relates to animal-based versus plant-based protein. Not only does protein help build new cells, repair old cells, and help keep our muscles and bones strong, but it also keeps us satiated between meals to prevent us from overeating and having significant cravings. Your body needs 20 different amino acids to function properly. However, nine of those are essential amino acids, meaning that they are required from your diet. The amino acid is a building block of protein. This allows our body to function optimally especially as it relates to repair and recovery as well as immune health. The key sources of the amino acids are primarily your meat products like meat, poultry, eggs, and fish, as well as the plant-based protein, soy.

Now, let’s discuss six different ways that protein is so important for your body.

  1. Helps with weight loss and improves metabolic function

One of the key ways it does this is by suppressing the hormone ghrelin, which is produced in the stomach and secreted by the pancreas and the small intestine. It also boosts Peptide YY which is a hormone that makes you feel full. This can help with cravings, late-night snacking, and eating too much throughout the day. In addition to that, protein has a higher thermic effect of food which is 25 to 35 percent versus fats and carbs which is five to 15 percent, so that means that you’re burning more calories overall by eating more protein sources.

2. Increases muscle mass and strength

It does this in two ways. One is that it increases glucagon, a hormone produced by the pancreas, which is important for fat mobilization. The second is that it increases insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is an anabolic hormone that is necessary for muscle growth. Therefore, it is very important that if you are doing a strength training routine of any kind that you make sure that you’re eating enough protein. It’s also really important to make sure that if you are in weight-loss mode that you are consuming more protein because your protein needs are higher to preserve that lean body mass.

3. Improves bone health

Despite what some unwarranted research states, protein helps with improving the structural matrix of the bone, helps with increasing urinary calcium, increases your intestinal calcium absorption, as well as increases the IGF-1.

4. Lowers your cardiovascular risk

Not only can it lower blood pressure by reducing the systolic number, but it can also lower your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. If you are at current risk for cardiometabolic risk factors, or you have a family history of heart disease, I would highly suggest that you incorporate protein into your diet.

5. Helps to heal our body

Protein is necessary to help fight bacterial and viral infections. It is a vital part of our immune system cells, for example, antibodies. We need protein to make antibodies. So, if you are lacking in protein you can feel weakness, fatigue, apathy, and have poor immunity.

6. Helps to heal your body after injury

Often times our protein needs are even higher after an injury to help with all the things I just mentioned. Remember, protein is the main building block of our tissues and organs. Even as we age and we develop things like sarcopenia, a loss of muscle mass; optimal protein intake coupled with physical activity, especially weight-bearing activity, is critical to prevent that.

Now you know all of the amazing benefits of protein. It can help with weight loss and fat mobilization, increasing muscle strength, helping your body recover from injury, helping your body prevent and recover from viral and bacterial infections, lowering your cardiovascular risk, and improving your immune system.

What is the appropriate amount and when should I eat protein?

For women, 20 to 30 grams of protein is recommended every few hours. For males, it is suggested to have 40 to 60 grams every few hours. Most people get about 15 percent of their calories coming from protein, but really, we need 25 to 30 percent. It is easy to think of it this way. At every meal and snack you’re having, pair it with a good high-quality source of protein. This means we are aiming for a full profile of nine essential amino acids. That’s primarily going to come from your animal proteins. I recommend hormone-free, grass-fed, lean meats. Soy is also another plant-based form that contains the essential amino acids. You can as a vegetarian or vegan consume enough protein, however you just need to plan extensively to make sure that you’re getting enough protein and not focusing so much on the carbohydrate sources.

So, I hope that was helpful for you. I do think it is such an important nutrient to think about as it relates to all of these aspects of health and there are so many misconceptions about it, so I wanted to make sure that I address some of the science. Hopefully, this will help you and your meal planning. I always say as it relates to your meals, use the KISS principle (keep it stupid simple). Consume a protein, a healthy fat, and a fiber source with every meal and snack.

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.

HOW TO TURN YOUR CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITES | Become a Warrior

I’d like to discuss something that is very personal to me…..how you can turn your challenges or crises into opportunities. When you look at people like Michael Jordan, Rocky Balboa, and Bruce Lee, you can see that these spiritual warriors have the most unbelievable focus, attention, and tenacity.

Here are some practical tips that you can do in your life to develop this resiliency and turn your challenges into opportunities. As George Mumford highlights in his book The Mindful Athlete, when we walk the path of a spiritual warrior, we can we think about the journey as opposed to the destination. When we look at some of these incredible athletes and true warriors, we can see that it isn’t about the outcome or the results, it’s about the journey. “An ordinary man takes everything as a blessing, or as a curse, whereas a warrior is going to take everything as a challenge.”

All right, here you go! Three things that can help you turn your challenges into opportunities.

  1. Noticing what’s right

We tend to, during times of crises or challenges, focus on what’s wrong and what isn’t going right in our lives. However, rather than focusing on that, we can focus on the beauty of the moment, with all of its imperfections, and we can find this deep wisdom that we wouldn’t have found otherwise. When we can really begin to look inward at this inner critic and emotional blueprint, and ask questions and explore it with curiosity, we can inquire about this really amazing wisdom. This will allow us to be able to look from a different lens to be able to see this obstacle or this challenge as an opportunity for growth.

2. Emotional error correction

Rather than blaming someone, something, or even ourselves, we need to think about asking the question “why?”. Have wonder and curiosity about why this happened and potentially what do you have to learn from this? Whether your challenges are small or big, there’s always something to learn about yourself. There’s always an opportunity to transform your growth as a human being. When we can transform the frustration and aggravation into the joy and satisfaction of learning about ourselves, we can begin to have more teachable moments in our lives. We can begin to have these experiences or these challenges that bring us awareness and make us more focused and present in our own lives. So, essentially when we are experiencing these different emotions, we can bring this wonder and this curiosity to the forefront because when we do that, then we begin to see the experience and situation so differently. We can ask with an open heart, and we can inquire about ourselves, be inquisitive about the situation and begin to grow.

3. The right effort

 This is where we focus on the journey, not the destination. This is where we don’t necessarily think “life’s a grind and I’m just going to try to push through.” Instead, we appreciate all the moments, experiences, and people along the way and appreciate the process, not the outcome, results, or the destination. This is where we can sit, and we can simply enjoy sitting. It is when we don’t have to be on the go and running and doing a million things. We can actually just be present and pay attention. We can pay attention to our experiences and be in tune with what our body needs. This is the right effort, not pushing so hard that you just continue to get hurt in your exercise program. Instead, you just give the right amount of effort so that you see these adaptations over time, for example.

There you have it, three ways that you could help turn your challenges into opportunities. I was diagnosed with stage three liposarcoma two months before my wedding about five years ago. That was when I made this commitment to myself that I wanted to not just survive cancer, but I wanted to thrive during cancer. With that, I have taken all of these steps to optimize my mindset, nutrition, and movement to really help me achieve the life that I want to have. I hope that you can turn this current challenge into an opportunity for you.

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.

Check out my TEDx talk below to see my story of turning challenges into opportunities.

COULD YOUR ANXIETY and DEPRESSION BE COMING FROM YOUR GUT? | SIBO

Did you ever wonder if anxiety and/or depression was caused purely by psychological reasons or possibly from other causes? It absolutely can be caused from many different things such as systemic inflammation, leaky gut, hormonal changes, and your gut, specifically SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which is what we’ll focus on today. Surprising I know! Let’s dive into the gut-brain connection, the bacteria and neurotransmitters in your gut, as well as what you can do to improve that neurotransmitter function in your gut and brain to really help you improve your mood, feel better, and move through your life with ease.

Other causes for anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression can come from many other physical causes. It can come from systemic inflammation or leaky gut. Leaky gut is where we have endotoxins released into the bloodstream coming through the epithelial lining of the small intestine and that creates an immune reaction. This can also lead to leaky brain. This is where those endotoxins cross the blood brain barrier and can contribute to things like mood changes and brain fog, etc. We can also have anxiety/depression related to hormonal changes. Last but definitely not least, we can have it from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).  In essence, the altered microbiome can be one of the biggest contributors to anxiety and/or depression.

Typical course of action in America

The typical course of action in America is that when you present with anxiety and/or depression, you are prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRRI). This can be something like Prozac, Paxil, or Lexapro. The reason these are prescribed is for low serotonin, our feel good neurotransmitter. Serotonin is one of our key chemical messenger that signals to the brain. This is formed by the bacteria in the gut, and guess what, 90 percent of our serotonin is in our gut! So, now we want to ask ourselves, why is our serotonin low? We may want to dive into what may be happening in the gut that could be contributing to this.

SIBO

SIBO, once again small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, can be one of the huge underlying factors in anxiety and/or depression. This is something that is definitely not looked at as frequently, and if you are experiencing something like bloating and other digestive symptoms, then this would be something to look into as one of the potential causes of your anxiety and/or depression. This happens when we have an overgrowth of the normal bacteria in the gut, and it creates a dysbiosis which means just an imbalance in the bacteria of the gut. This in turn will lead to things like nutrient deficiencies, malabsorption, and imbalances in the neurotransmitters. The gut-brain connection is a bidirectional communication between our gut and our brain. Our gut is our second nervous system. The bacteria in the gut is essentially what’s forming these neurotransmitters, our chemical messengers and communicators to the brain.

Testing for SIBO

Why is it so important to look at possible bacterial overgrowth in the gut and test it appropriately? When you are having any digestive issues like bloating, abdominal pain, any type of diarrhea, constipation, etc and it’s coupled with anxiety and/or depression, then you should absolutely be tested for SIBO. SIBO is tested using a breath test which is going to assess either hydrogen or methane gas. You ingest something called lactulose, and because it cannot be absorbed, it will be present in the small intestine. If it ferments with the bacteria in your gut, then you will exhale either a methane or hydrogen gas. If you’d like to order a test, click HERE.

Irritable bowel syndrome has been used as a diagnosis for many years, and now what we’re finding out is that IBS diagnosis is really SIBO in most cases. When you have this diagnosis, and you are experiencing anxiety and/or depression, it is going to be imperative that you address this as one of the potential root causes of your anxiety or depression because there’s no way that you can have the appropriate amount of serotonin, and even elements of dopamine if you are experiencing SIBO.

So what do you do about it?

1) The first thing is to make sure you get properly tested and evaluated.

2) Include a low FODMAP diet.

It is important to remove any type of inflammatory foods or triggers that could be aggravating this condition. FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. Low fodmap foods are easily digested carbohydrates which is a really important aspect of a SIBO protocol. Also eliminate things like gluten which is found in wheat, a high FODMAP food, a big driver in leaky gut, a common complaint or comorbidity along with SIBO.

3) Supplementation.

Typically, supplementation is going to be required because you will likely have malabsorption issues. It doesn’t mean that you definitely will, but there is a strong possibility, especially is this has been going on for quite some time. You may have to take specific highly bioavailable nutrient supplements until your body can absorb a more effectively and be able to repair the gut lining in cases of leaky gut. Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body for immune health and intestinal health. This will be one of the very important nutrients that you will want to ingest if you are diagnosed with SIBO. The recommendation is 15 to 21 grams a day.

4) You want to reinoculate with probiotics.

It is important to recognize that not all probiotics will work for every SIBO patient. Most commonly, spore-based probiotics seem to be best as some other probiotics could make you worse.

5) Antibiotics

Antibiotics are typically used to treat the SIBO. There are different protocols and philosophies on when the appropriate time is to give the antibiotic. However, it is going to be necessary in most cases, whether it’s an herbal antibiotic or a conventional antibiotic to kill the bacteria.

In summary, hopefully you can appreciate that there’s way more to anxiety and depression, then simply only psychological reasons. We’ve only scratched the surface of just one part aspect of this, but I wanted share with you about neurotransmitters, introduce the gut-brain connection, and hopefully just have you think a little bit deeper about how can you begin to address some of the root causes of why this could be happening to you or someone you love.

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.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to treat or diagnose. Please check with your physican or functional medicine practitioner to determine a specific plan.

7 Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic System I Beginner Lymph Drainage

Let’s discuss one of the most powerful and most neglected systems in the body, the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a critical part of the immune system and is vital for protecting us from illness and chronic disease.

Seventy to 90 percent of all chronic disease is linked to inflammation. How do we get rid of inflammation? Primarily through our lymphatic system or other detoxification systems or organs including our liver, kidney, lungs, skin, GI system, tongue and fat.

We are made up of 80 percent water. Let’s compare the lymphatic system to an aquarium. We can appreciate that if the aquarium has clean, filtered water everything in the aquarium (the fish, algae, etc) is going to not only survive but thrive.  However, if that tank is unfiltered, becomes toxic and infected, everything in the tank is also going to become toxic and have a lack of oxygen and nutrients.  Therefore, it cannot survive, let alone thrive in that toxic environment.

As one of my mentors Dr. Perry Nicholson says, “you cannot get well in the environment that you got ill  in.”

Symptoms of a Poor Lymphatic System

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, then you most likely have a lymphatic issue but truthfully if you’re living in modern society, you most likely have a lymphatic issue anyway because of how toxic our environment is. With that said, if you had things like morning stiffness, chronic pain or fatigue or stiffness, bloating in your face in your abdomen, varicose veins, brain fog, poor sleep, acne, bad breath poor capillary refill, and painful lymph nodes, then most likely you are dealing with some kind of lymphatic issue.

Amazing Facts About the Lymphatic System

The lymph system is pretty darn amazing. There’s over 700 lymph nodes in the body and over one third of them are in the neck. There’s 15 liters of lymph in our body. All of the lymph is pumping in one direction, the direction of the heart, and it’s deeply connected to the gut.  It is connected through the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT), specifically the Peyer’s patches. Remember that 70 to 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut! Now you can appreciate this deep connection of the lymphatic system to the gut. If there is a gut issue, there is a lymph issue!

7 Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic System

What can you do if you have a lymphatic issue? What you can you do to help optimize your immune system? Here are seven key ways that are very easy things to integrate into your life and should be foundational.

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing

The two key ways to improve your lymphatic system are movement and breath. Let’s speak about breath first. When I refer to breath, I really mean diaphragmatic breath.  You are using the diaphragm to actually create a pumping mechanism that is going to pump the lymph to the cisterna chyli, which is one of your main lymph drainage points in the center of your abdomen.

Breathing diaphragmatically is going to improve the chances of having a healthy lymph system.  We breathe 20 to 25,000 times a day. If we have stress breathing, however, and the diaphragm is very restricted, that is going to significantly impact the function lymphatic system. Breathing is your superpower!

Try taking at least three diaphragmatic breaths every hour and breathe for five min in the morning and at night before bed.

2. Movement

Once again, movement is one of the most important things to do to improve your lymphatic system.  We want to think of hydrating the tissue and moving the lymph system.

Try to move frequently throughout the day, not just for one hour and then sitting the remaining part of the day.  Think about movement snacks. As Gray Cook says, “move well and then often.”

3. Staying Hydrated

It seems very simple, but also very challenging for many people. Remember, we are 80 percent water so it is very important for the lymphatic system to be well hydrated.

Make sure to that you’re drinking at minimum, eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day, and always making sure that your urine is yellow is pale yellow to clear.

4. Anti-inflammatory nutrition

The more inflammation that we have, the more toxic our environment is. We cannot get well in the environment that we got ill in. Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet, getting rid of any gut infections anything like yeast overgrowth or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) that you recognize is contributing to a poor lymphatic system is essential.  

All of these systems work together, so it’s really important to address any underlying condition and really focus on a well-balanced whole food natural diet.

5. One-minute lymphatic drainage.

This is the most basic version and is for beginners. It’s a great starting point for many people.  If you go  too fast too soon with the lymphatic system, you can actually cause a huge detoxification reaction and it can make you feel very ill. This is a great way to simply start the process, and if you have any negative symptoms, you would wait until those symptoms resolved for you progress.  Ultimately the goal is to do this daily. You could do it in the shower, before you work out, or any consistent and convenient time. Always make sure to follow with movement.

Watch the lymph drainage HERE.

Remember that for the lymph drainage the order is very important, you’re always starting on the left side and then moving to the right, and you start with above the collarbone area, move up to the jaw under the jaw, and then go into the pec, then the abdomen, then the inguinal area, and then behind the knees. The order is very important and perform five pats in each place.

6. Vagus nerve stimulation

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body, one of our cranial nerves that regulates our parasympathetic nervous system. We can stimulate the vagus nerve in many ways; through breathing and meditation, specific cranial nerve exercises, humming, chanting, yoga and more. Because we can improve that parasympathetic system (rest and digest state), we can impact our impact our breathing, and therefore our pumping action of the lymphatics. 

You’ll want to make sure that you one of more of these practices in your daily life.

7. Decreasing Stress

When the HPA axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis) is activated, our stress pathway in our body, we’re ultimately going to release cortisol. Cortisol can break down proteins. More specifically, it can break down collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein in the extracellular matrix of connective tissue in the body and is the most abundant protein in our body. Therefore, the breakdown can impact the structure of the cells in the lymphatic system, which therefore can cause blockages and decreased blood flow, which ultimately in turn means that there will be more congestion and a more toxic environment.

Please find the things that help YOU manage stress! Please see how to map your nervous system.

So there you have it, seven different ways to improve your lymphatic system, and hopefully with a little background information to help you on your healing journey.

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.

Source: Dr. Perry Nichelston, Stop Chasing Pain

Disclaimer: This is not intended to treat or diagnose. Please check with your physican or functional medicine practitioner to determine a specific plan.

5 MOVEMENT SNACKS I Working at home during the quarantine

I know that many of you have been working at your desk all day during this quarantine. You may not be getting up as much and probably not feeling as great as you normally do. These simple exercises can be done at your desk or the surrounding area. Rather than heading to the kitchen, here are five movement snacks that you could do throughout your day to help you get focused, energized, and maintain your mobility.

  1. Cross Crawl Pattern

The cross crawl pattern will stimulate the right and left hemisphere of the brain, ultimately waking up the logical and the creative side of your brain.

To do this exercise, while sitting, place your hands behind your head, and then exhale as you bring your elbow to your opposite knee. You do not need to touch each direction, but just try your best. Repeating for a series of 15 to 20 repetitions. You can also do this from standing, and the same idea, bring elbow to opposite knee. View the exercise HERE.

2. Foot Release

The foot release can be done from a seated or standing position. You can use a ball that’s the size of a golf ball. I love the RAD rounds for this. The foot release is really designed to improve the mobility of your foot and hydrate the fascia, helping to keep it elastic. You’re also stimulating certain receptors in the bottom of the feet that have a direct link to your brain. From an  Eastern medicine perspective, reflexology, by applying pressure to reflex areas, is said to remove energy blockages and promote health in the related body area and research has shown to stimulate the vagus nerve as well. I recommend this to nearly every patient. It is a very powerful exercise, very simple to do, and feels amazing. It will take you just a few minutes on each side.

To do this exercise, use a small ball on the six different points on the bottom of your foot that will be included in the picture below. You’ll hold the ball in each spot for about 20 seconds, making sure that you feel a nice release (about 75% decrease in pain/discomfort), and then moving on to the next spot. View how to do the exercise HERE.

6 point Foot Release

3. Half Salamander

The half salamander exercise is a cranial nerve reprogramming exercise. The goal of it is to improve the thoracic mobility, ribcage and sternum motion, and improve the blood flow around the vertebral arteries, and ultimately the upper cervical spine. It is very simple to do and you could do it multiple times throughout the day to have a cumulative effect on neck, shoulder, and thoracic mobility.

To do this exercise, first check your cervical range of motion. You can do this by looking to the right and left to see if there’s any asymmetry or restriction. Then, place your hands behind your head and you’re going to side bend to one side and then look with your eyes in the opposite direction. Make sure to keep your face forward, and you’ll hold this for 30 to 60 seconds. You would of course repeat on the other side, and then you would recheck your cervical range of motion, which should be improved. To see how to do the exercise, click HERE.

4. Thoracic Rotation and Side Bend

The thoracic rotation and side bending exercise is also a great exercise to do to help negate some of the sitting posture of that forward, often rounded position. You’re using your eyes to really help improve the range of motion in the upper back. Your eyes have a direct connection to the muscles in the back of your head, the occiput muscles. So, you’re using your eyes to really drive by looking as far as you can. Each time you should be able to get successive improvement.

To do this exercise, first check your thoracic range of motion by rotating to each side seeing if there is any restrictions or asymmetry. Then, place your hands behind your head and you’re going to look with your eyes all the way to the right. Next, rotate as far as you can to the right keeping your hands behind your head. When you get to your end range, side bend. Come back to center and return to your start position. The next time, you’ll rotate even further, looking with your eyes as far as you can to the right. Then, once again side bend. Each time you should be able to get farther and farther. Repeat three times on each side, and then recheck your thoracic range of motion, which should be improved. To see the exercise, click HERE.

5. Hip Mobility 90/90

Hip mobility is very important, so you want to make sure that you take the opportunity to get down on the floor and maintain your hip motion, especially if you are going to be sitting all day at your desk. You do want to make sure that this is active controlled mobility, so you want to make sure that you’re breathing diagrammatically in each position to convince your nervous system that you are safe in that position. Go to the point where you feel some discomfort, but it should never be painful.

To do this exercise, you will start with a 90/90 hip position. From this position, slowly rotate to the other side maintaining an upright trunk position. Using your breath, exhaling, as you rotate, and then taking your big inhale to prep the motion. Make sure you are doing this in a comfortable position and that there is no pain. Then, move into a reaching forward position on the front leg.  Use tension by pushing into the ground, pushing the ground away and hinging from the hip. It may be farther for some than others. Next, you’ll open your back up and rotate to the front leg. You’re really trying to open your chest and extend your hip on that side. Make sure to really squeeze your glute to maintain that position while breathing. To see how to perform, click HERE.

Summary

I hope that was helpful and that you gained some new movement snacks that you can do throughout your workday, especially during this quarantine. If this was helpful for you, please make sure to share it with your friends and family.  The rule of thumb is to move EVERY 30 minutes while working, so try one of these or take a quick stroll. Better yet, do both!

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

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

8 Common Mistakes in Your Plank & 8 Ways to Improve it

Have you ever done a plank or would like to know why you should do planks? Let’s discuss eight ways that you could potentially compensate in your plank and more importantly, eight ways to correct them.

Why are planks important?

The plank is considered an anti-extension, or back bending exercise, that is targeting the anterior (front) core. It really helps to improve the midline stability of the body. We need that for all movement patterns. If we think about our basic daily life patterns to our exercise patterns such as deadlifts, squats, and kettlebell swings, the plank is a foundational movement for all these. We’re not looking for perfection, we just want to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise that you’re doing. That’s what you want to do with all your training, but especially in this exercise. So, let’s take a look at compensations you could be doing in your plank and ways to improve on them.

  1. Holding for time

When you set up with the timer in front of you and you hold as long as you can, you are probably not getting the benefits of the exercise. It is easy to “power through” with your legs and arms. Some try to hold for three or five minutes, but really that’s not the point of the plank.

What to do instead:

Use your breath as your repetition

Instead of using time, use your breath as your repetition. When you get in the plank position, take a nice big inhale through your nose and exhale (out of your nose or mouth) drawing the belly button toward the spine and bringing your rib cage down. You want to hold that position for as many breaths as you can, which typically is about five to ten breaths.

2. Breath Holding

When people do not breathe during the movement pattern it can cause your body to recruit other muscles such as your back or neck muscles, and more importantly, you won’t be getting the most out of your plank.

What to do instead:

As we talked about using your breath versus time, learning how to breathe properly in the plank and all movement is very important. As you’re inhaling, your abdomen is expanding 360 degrees, when you exhale, belly button goes in towards the spine and ribs come down to create some tension and bracing. When you are using your breath as your repetition and you are doing it properly, I can assure you that it will be many less reps than what you were probably doing already.

Rather watch or listen than read? Click here

3. Looking up or looking down during your plank

Looking up with a hyperextended neck or just the opposite, looking down, can cause changes in how the body is stabilizing. If you are already having trouble with stabilization, this matters!

What to do instead:

Gaze towards the floor, holding your neck position nice and strong. This will prevent any discomfort and make sure that you’re stabilizing through the whole anterior chain in the front of your body.

4. Sagging your low back

The low back drops down or sags when you hold your plank position. You may even feel a little “tight” in your low back. This also causes a whole chain reaction and effects how you are stabiizing.

What to do instead:

Try slightly tucking the pelvis. You want to think about it as if your pelvis was a bucket of water and you are are pouring it out the back. This little tuck will bring the ribcage over top of the pelvis. That will give you a much stronger position through the trunk, and it allows us to really maximize the recruitment of the front of the core.

5. Having your butt up in the air

This means that you’re really not stabilizing.  This could be intentional and it could be to accommodate certain movement patterns or pathologies, like limited toe mobility. That is okay-that is your intent!

What to do instead:

Bring your body more parallel towards the ground, and in which case, your shoulders will be slightly higher than your pelvis. You will have a slight angle there, but that is normal.

6. Bending the knees in the plank

When you bend your knees, you lose control in your whole body, especially the low back. A lot of times the low back sag and knee bent position will go together.

What to do instead:

Think about lengthening through your heel. That will give you a really nice strong tension position.

7. Sinking your shoulders

This is a really important one because a lot of times we see the shoulder blades sinking down. It can also commonly be referred to as “winging” shoulder blades. That creates a lot of stress on the shoulder, and it really destabilizes the trunk.

What to do instead:

Press the ground away. Spread your wings, which means that you’re spreading the shoulder blades. That gives you a really nice strong connection of some of the important scapular stabilizers that actually intimately connect with your core. This is really powerful because you get a lot more tension through the whole body when you do that.

8. Thinking you should do planks to improve low back pain

The truth is that when there is pain, there is decreased motor control, which means decreased stability, coordination, timing, sequencing, and activation of all these muscles. If you have acute low back pain and you think that doing a plank is going to help it, it might not be the best choice of exercise at that time. You want to make sure that you’re in a good place and you’ve been instructed by a qualified health professional to direct you on when this is appropriate.

What to do instead:

Focus on breathwork first and activating the deep core stabilizers. When you are in pain, it’s going to be more important to focus on the reflexive stabilizers, which is the inner core.

Summary

In summary, the plank could be a great exercise to include in your training program. If you’re already doing the plank, you can take this opportunity to clean up any compensations that we discussed today.

In summary, here’s how to do a proper plank:

  1. When you set up, you can think of setting your index fingers parallel, and having a really active hand, which means spreading those fingers really wide and that will take pressure off of the wrist.
  2. Place your hands directly under your shoulders and step back into that high plank.
  3. Make sure that the head is nice and neutral, keeping the eyes gazing at the floor.
  4. Press the ground away spreading those wings  (shoulder blades) with a slight tuck in the pelvis to stack the ribcage.
  5. Use your breath as repetition.
  6. Lastly, lengthen through the heels to keep that strong position.

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