Posts Tagged ‘Injuries’

Self-limiting exercises are one of the most important methods of exercise that can decrease the risk of injuries and with enough training can “surpass normal functional limits (video below).”

If you ask anybody or “everybody” what do they wear when they go for a run they will say a pair of shoes of some kind. You will rarely hear them say barefoot! The difference between running in shoes and running without shoes has a great impact in our everyday health. For example, running in shoes allows us to run longer distances and for longer periods of time but it will increase our risk for injuries. This is true because of two important perspectives. From a physiological perspective, in this situation we will innately use our cardiovascular system as a limiting capacitor for exercise. In other words, the structural integrity of our ligaments, tendons, and muscles will be put at risk and thus are actually weaker due to the shoes over-protective support. Therefore, what we should do is use our feet as our “exercise capacity limiter” because it will allow us to reach fatigue honestly and prompt our brain to tell us to stop when we’ve truly had enough.

From a bio-mechanical perspective, the point of force impact when running in shoes is transferred up from the heel area due to “heel-strike” during a run, increasing the risk for injuries. The point of force impact is further front in the mid-sole area when running on barefoot and this method decreases the risk for injuries “naturally.” In other words, we will naturally avoid too much heel-strike and land more on our mid-sole.

Therefore, running in barefoot has many benefits from simply developing stronger intrinsic and extrinsic structures and decreasing the risk for injuries to surpassing human body limits (talked about in video below).

Caution: Although, barefoot walking and running can provide large benefits, be disciplined and listen to your body when “gradually” progressing into its lifestyle. A good way to go about achieving this is to gradually work into shoes with a lower platform before you put your feet into shoes such as the vibram five fingers, vivobarefoot, Nike free trainers or other wide toe-boxed and flat shoes, which are much closer to the ground. These shoes are the “goal” but we must work progressively or there will be unwanted consequences.

Credits to: Functional Movement Systems.

This video tells us about the secrets of our human body and what it can do if we did not have all the modern technological ease. (Talks about the point I did not really mention above, “surpassing human body limits).”

~Open Our Minds


“Stability is the ability to hold a position in the presence of full range of motion. If you don’t have full range of motion, you will have some type of skewed stability. If your end ranges are not clear or have pain/restriction, your entire sense of proprioception through the whole span of motion will be skewed in some way with muscles not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.” – Gray Cook

This is absolutely imperative and true for exercising and performing effectively in any setting. It makes obvious sense that without full range of motion you will have some sort of skewed stability that cannot be seen by the naked eye. If you have pain then the instability may be more noticeable. For example, if you have pain in your right shoulder, then while lifting external loads with your right arm/hand you will likely be unable to generate as much strength and power as you are truly capable of. In addition, you may display an “awkward lift” due to the lack of range of motion. Therefore, an important point to understand is that during the entirety of your lift there will be varying levels of compensations happening all over your body; which is an indication that you are fighting against your body in order to complete the lift as satisfactory as possible. In other words, your other muscles will be doing things they “should not be doing” while the main muscles involved in the lift will be ill-activated or not doing what they are suppose to do.

Try to correct yourself and achieve the proper range of motion for your whole body before attempting to exercise seriously. This will in turn decrease your risks for injuries in the future.

~Open Our Minds

The Functional Movement Screen is a tool for dynamically assessing your body’s movement patterns and attempts to identify limitations and asymmetries that could predispose a person to injury.

*If you have pain doing any of these tests then take care of that first.* (Images and a detailed link are listed at the end).

7 + 1 bonus FMS Tests:

1) Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR) – Lie supine on the floor and try to raise one leg as high as you can while keeping it straight, not moving your arms, head, lower back, or opposite leg which is almost in contact with the floor.

2) Deep-Squat – This test is more complicated and harder to do because it combines all the other tests together and see if they are working. Stand shoulder width apart, then squat down as deep as possible to an almost sitting position while keeping back straight. Also, do this while maintaining a stable dowel (long stick) over top of your head (straight arms).

3) In-Line Lunge – feet in line with each other in a comfortable lunge position and then perform a lunge while holding a rod/stick/dowel with opposite hands (one from come bottom and one coming from over the top) vertically behind you with it in contact with your neck, upper back, and lower back while keeping back straight, and feet/hips stable and rod/stick/dowel stable.

4) Hurdle-Step – Stand feet together with rod/stick/dowel in same position as the In-Line Lunge, then slowly step over the hurdle and touch other side with heel but do not put weight on it and bring your leg back over into standing. Alternate both sides while keeping back straight and rod/stick/dowel stable.

5) Core-Reflex Push-up – Get in a push-up position with your hands farther out and higher up and then attempt to do a push-up while keeping your hips, pelvis, and back straight.

6) Scapular-Stability – This test is also more complicated because it measures glenohumeral (shoulder) joint mobility, scapular stability, and thoracic spine mobility/rotation.  Position your arms straight out at 20-30 degrees higher than the shoulders with hands in a fist (thumb tucked inside) and then in one motion reach both arms (one from under and other from over the back) and try to touch each other while maintaining both fists.

7) Rotary Stability – Get in a bird-dog position or on both knees and hands (four-point position) and straighten contra-lateral (opposite) arms and legs at the same time and try to maintain it for a couple seconds. Then while maintaining this position simultaneously bring elbow and knees towards the mid-line and touch before returning to starting position (Do about three times). Do both sides.

8) Seated Rotation (From a FMS youtube video) – Sit cross-legged, place a rod/stick/dowel across chest (touching collar bone/shoulders) with hands criss-crossed holding it in place. Then rotate/turn only your spine/trunk until the dowel reaches its destination (like the side of a door). Do this on boths sides while keeping back straight.

*Once again if you have pain doing any of these tests then take care of that first.*

Scoring the 7 FMS Tests:

Each test is scored by a 0-3 scale with 0 feeling the worst and 3 feeling the best.

0 = Pain while trying to perform test.

1 = Unable to perform test even with compensations.

2 = Able to perform and accomplish test with compensations.

3 = Can perform and complete the test without any compensations. – Here is a detailed link to the 7 movement tests.


~Open Our Minds

What is Exercise?

Is it to build bulky muscles? Is it to build muscle tone and look good? Is it to lose weight? Is it to increase fitness and participate in sports? Or is it just something you should do to gain some health benefits?

Most people would agree with the majority of points I have mentioned above, if not all. But how and what is the safest and most fundamental yet most beneficial way to exercise? In my opinion, it is a basic prerequisite we have driven away from or simply choose not to acknowledge any more for various reasons. This aspect resides in our functional movement patterns. It is the foundation of exercise itself. This makes sense because even if we go to see our family doctors and physicians and they rule out every danger relating to our vitals such as cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological problems etc, they will most likely never give you a movement analysis or assessment on how you move. This is essential to exercising effectively and efficiently. So we need to rule out our vitals and also create a stable yet mobile foundation for us to safely participate in training and activity. We need to focus on how to appropriately “re-learn” (because we all have movement skills and capacities already when we were born) this forgotten foundation, understand the importance of having it, and how and why it can and will reduce the risk of injuries.
~Open Our Minds

Are we trying to say that we are smarter than our innate nervous system (brain) that naturally gave us everything we had?

To ice or not to ice? And I mean that in the most literal sense. I have recently acquired information about the biggest and most popular analgesic (pain reliever) controversy. Ice, the popular go to pain reliever may not be the best modality in treating our musculoskeletal injuries that we suffer throughout our lives. In “fact,” it absolutely goes against our body’s innate healing system. Now you may wonder why that is? Before you disapprove of this claim and fact and move on, I am going to explain what I have learned.

What do you use “ice” for? Or to give you some control, what do you “want” to use ice for? In other words, what are some of the main reasons you want to use ice. Do you want to use it to relieve the Pain? Or do you want to use it to Heal? I believe that these two simple questions  and the reasons behind them are extremely important to answer because the difference between them are physiologically enormous.

To shortly breakdown one physiological aspect, the pain we feel is the response that our brain or nervous system sends to the injured area to tell us to avoid the use of that area in order to protect us from further harm. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we have this pain response. Now you should think about whether we should use “ice” to numb the area and block this signal? The obvious outcome from blocking the pain signal is that we may not know whether the area has suffered any further damage.

There are three phases during healing: The first phase is the inflammation phase (which is the phase I will be focusing on), the second is the proliferation phase, and the final phase is the remodelling phase.

We all more or less use ice as a treatment modality in order to “slow down” inflammation in hopes of decreasing pain, and congestion or swelling in the injured area. Did you pick up on it? Good. Because the first phase of “healing” is the inflammation phase and it may also be the most important phase. This means we need the inflammation which is accompanied by redness, swelling, pain, and heat, in order to heal. But instead, we use ice to try to slow this process down. So now you may ask what do you do or which side do you pick? This depends on the two main questions and the reasons behind why you want to use ice.

If you just want to relieve pain then you have no reason not to use ice. However, if you want to “heal” or increase the healing process, then ice may not be the best modality to use. If I haven’t lost you yet then it is time to get straight to the point. The pain is actually due to the “swelling and congestion” which is the pocket of fluid that accumulates in the injured area. This congested area is caused by fluids and our bodies healing systems which immediately sends macrophages and other cells to battle foreign matter and digest dead tissues in order to clean out the mess and set an ideal “platform” for the second and third phases of healing. This is what I call “positive congestion.” Of course, when there’s a positive there has to be a negative and that is the digested dead tissue and other foreign matter which tends to pool in the injured area “if” we do not clear it. Now can you guess what ice does? Yes, by icing and also “resting” too much, the congestion and swelling will stay in the area which may cause more damage. In other words, ice attempts to slow down inflammation by freezing the surround nerves and tissues; but luckily it does not. Because if it did, then we would not heal. We may be smart but we can never trump our brains in a battle of innate intelligence.

So how do you get rid of this congestion? There are 3 main ways and it does not include ice. The three simple ways are “movement, massage, and isometric contractions (contracting muscles with out changing in length at the joints).” Treatment modalities such as Intramuscular stimulation and transcutaneous nerve stimulation may assist in these contractions. Now this is where the “lymphatic system” plays the biggest role. Since this system only goes one way (up), it is the main pump and pathway for “waste and garbage” to leave the damaged area; and this is the only way to decrease the congestion and in turn lead to a decrease in pain. If the waste is not pumped out then the brain will think there is still foreign matter in the area and will fight and in turn cause more inflammation. Movement, massage, and isometric contractions effectively and efficiently get rid of this waste. Think of all three like mechanisms that squeeze on the lymphatic vessels to pump the waste through its “one way” pathway.

However, all that I have said is not set in stone or absolute because everything in life requires a balance and people possess different behaviours. In other words, I understand that some people may need the ice to relieve the pain and then slowly work on the 3 ways to eliminate the congestion. That is fine as well. As long as we know the reasons behind using cold therapy. We are all human beings and our similarities make our lives, but our differences balance it.

Thanks for reading. I just wanted to spread this information because it makes sense to me nad there are evidence to support it. Now we are left with a choice instead of an automatic response (ice) to treating an injury.

P.S.: Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) “may” also be controversial as it may not only slow down but also “prevent” the inflammation phase during healing.

Here is a video of Gary and Kelly discussing about “ice”:

Here is an article to support why we should not use ice to “heal”:

Credits to: Gary Reinl (Author of “ICED: The Illusionary Treatment Option) and Kelly Starrett (MobilityWOD).

~Open Our Minds