Thursday, September 13, 2018

How to Avoid Pain Medications, Surgery, and Multiple Trips to the MD.

How to Avoid Pain Medications, Surgery, and Multiple Trips to the MD.
By Guest Blogger Derek Nielsen PT, DPT

Do you suffer, or know someone who suffers, from pain? Of course, you do. We all know someone who deals with pain regularly. Pain can be very confusing, not just for the individual, but for the person treating it as well. If you, or someone you know, suffers from pain which is increased or decreased with movement or positional changes then this article is for you.

Let’s expand on that for a minute…

Does the pain get better or worse with sitting, lying down, walking, bending forward, twisting, squatting, or any other positional changes? If you answered “yes” to this, then keep reading. If you answered “no”, then you should immediately reach out to your physician as this can be a sign of a more serious problem.

One more question to consider…

Was there an exact moment in time that you can point to which preceded the pain? Was there a fall? An accident? A popping or clicking noise? If you answered “yes”, then you should see your physician. If you answered “no” then this article is for you.

Let’s recap…

You have pain which is better with certain movement and worse with others. You also can’t point to an exact moment in time which caused the pain. This is the person who I see in my clinic the most and the rest of the article will talk about why there is pain and exactly what to do about it.

Let’s talk about the body and movement…

The human body almost never moves at a single joint by itself. Throughout the day, almost all movement requires multiple areas of the body working together to achieve the same movement. For example, let’s pretend that a person has lower back pain with a squat. In order to squat we require ankle, knee, hip, and back mobility. There is also some stability which is necessary.
The person who doesn’t move well at their ankles will require more work from their back to perform a squat. The person who doesn’t move well at their hips will require more work at their back to perform a squat. The person who doesn’t move well at their back will require more work at their ankles and hips. You see, the body trades one areas work for another. But this is usually only sustainable for so long before pain ensues at some point. The question is, what usually becomes painful?

Pain is often due to overuse…

The area of pain is usually hurting because it is overused. We see this when we sit for too long and our lower backs start to ache. Or when we look down at our phone for too long and the neck starts to ache. The aching sensation isn’t because there is damage. It’s because the area is being overused and is unsustainable. This is also the case in the squatting example. What area is having to work harder because another area isn’t doing its job? That’s the question for reaching a long-term solution to pain.

A metaphor…

Let’s say we have two guys moving 100-pound kettlebells from one side of the gym to the other. Together they have to perform this 300 times. However, one guy does this 250 times while the other only does it 50 times. Who do you think is going to wake up sore and hurting the next morning? Well, the body is no different. The area which has to do more of the work is the area which becomes painful. The solution is getting both guys moving the kettlebells equally, not just treating the pain.

Squatting is just an example. Movement is movement, though. The body rarely moves at one joint, or area, without requiring other areas to participate with it. Walking, running, twisting, or even getting up from a chair is similar in that they require multiple areas working together to complete a task. Finding the area of the body within the task which isn’t participating like it should is often the golden ticket to long-term pain relief.

The diagnosis mistake…

Many of my patients are diagnosed with arthritis, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, meniscus tears, and even muscle tears. They are told this is the reason why they are in pain. However, if there is no exact instance which you can point to when the pain started then the likelihood of these being the cause of pain are slim. Just like wrinkles on the skin, our bodies get wrinkles on the inside. These wrinkles come in the form of ‘scary’ diagnoses such as the ones listed above. The body breaks down as we age. Plain and simple. Bones aren’t going to stay perfect, muscles can tear, discs can herniate. This is normal. Many scientific studies have shown people with no pain have the same diagnoses as those with pain. Read that last sentence again.

When it comes down to it, we humans move. The far majority have movements that are more painful and movements that are less painful. The solution is to really dive into what movements are painful and find out exactly what areas of the body aren’t moving and working like they should, regardless of where the pain is coming from. Because, again, pain is often due to the area being overworked. Treating the painful area is a short-term solution. Treating the entire body is the long-term solution.

In the end, healthcare needs to teach people how to care for themselves, not rely on the system to take care of them. Pain meds, injections, and surgery are all interventions which are passive. They ask nothing from the patient. Healthcare should always have the goal of teaching life skills. Learning to help yourself should always be the goal.

If you live in the Durham area and would like to come in for a free visit to see if I can help you find a long-term solution to pain, click the link

The Best Way to Ensure You Never Get Injured Again When Returning to Your Favorite Activity or Sport September 11, 2018


What is your plan to stay out of pain once your treatments with your physical therapist are over?

If you do the same thing you’ve always done, you’ll be back at your Physical Therapist’s office in no time flat. And it’s not that your Physical Therapist won’t be happy to see you—he will for sure—but let’s not forget that he’s in the practice of helping people heal. So if you become a “repeat offender,” he’ll start to feel like he’s not able to help you. So, in order to help him help you, you must learn to help yourself. Let’s face it no one likes to get hurt.

But if we are all really, truly honest with ourselves, the reason we got hurt is that our bodies were not prepared to do whatever it was we were doing at the time we got injured. In the strength and conditioning world this is known as GPP- General Physical Preparedness.

 I’m not talking about the person who was in a horrific car accident or the person recovering from multiple stab wounds. I’m talking about the rest of us who have suffered from orthopedic injuries—shoulders, lower backs, knees, hips, ankles, wrists, etc.

The reality is if we are brutally honest with ourselves it’s that we weren’t proactive with our lives. We play tennis to get in shape for tennis, golf for golf, and run to run. It makes perfect sense, right—unless of course there’s a life outside of those activities.

Wait a minute, there is. And that “life” gets in the way. We do things that interfere with our activities and we end up neglecting ourselves: Lack of sleep; too much of the wrong food; not enough of the right exercise, etc.

So how do we ensure that life doesn’t sneak up on us again and get hurt doing the things we love?

Here are some quick steps to take:

Ask yourself the question, “Am I in better physical shape now then when I started my activity that I love?” If the answer is, “No,” honestly evaluate what makes you think you’ll be able to participate in your favorite activity now the same or better than you did before.

Determine what activity you do the most of each day, and evaluate how that impacts the thing you love to do. The majority of people spend all day sitting, which means the muscles on the front of your body get short and tight and the muscles on the backside of your body get weaker. You need to address these issues, these weaknesses, these problems, otherwise you are setting yourself up for more injuries. How do you do that? Through an intelligent exercise program—usually one different from the one you’re currently doing, or not doing, whichever the case may be.

Determine exactly how much time you want to spend doing the things that allow you to do what you love better. The reality is, time is always at a premium. How much time do you have? We all have the same amount—24 hours each day, some of us just use it a little better than others. If we look at some of the recommendations that used to be prescribed, none of us have two hours each day to get “healthier.” We need something better.

So where do you go from here? How do you find the right exercise program that keeps you injury-free and allows you to be a better runner, golfer, tennis player, biker, whatever?

You need a program that addresses all the areas of weakness that we mentioned before. You need a program that helps you move better; one that strengthens your lower back, your abs, your shoulders, your hips; one that helps you make healthier decisions regarding your lifestyle choices—choices that help support whatever it is you love to do. You also need a program that covers all of these in as little time as each week as possible. (How’s less than three hours per week sound to you?)

You need a program that makes you RESILIENT. This is where Rapid Results Fitness and  kettlebell training fits into your life.

A kettlebell looks like a cannonball with a handle on it. It comes in all sizes—small and light to big and very heavy. And just about everybody can use one, and it’s no doubt that everybody should use one.


Because kettlebells have the uncanny ability to make your back stronger with special exercises virtually unique to kettlebell training and not found in any health club or gym. Not only that, they make your abdominals, hips, and hamstrings (the backs of your legs) stronger –critical components to getting out of back pain and staying out of back pain. When these muscles are weak, they force your lower back to do all the work—bending, twisting, turning, stooping—all the things you need to do in life, but can’t with a bad back.

Not only is kettlebell training great for strengthening your lower back, unlike other exercises and exercise programs, it’s safe and healthy for the rest of your joints too. It’s the only form of exercise that strengthens your muscles, joints, and heart and lungs ensuring cardiovascular health without your feet ever leaving the ground!

If you are ready to stay out of pain, and become resilient you owe it to yourself to investigate kettlebell training and our program at Rapid Results Fitness. Go to our website where you will learn from the best on how to safely and effectively use your body and train with kettlebells to stay out of pain AND become physically prepared and resilient for life!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Ring th Bell by guest blogger Shawn Powell Instructor at Rapid Results Fitness

Ring the Bell
Musings for Getting Stronger and Seeing Progress in the Kettlebell Gym

by Shawn Powell SFG, CPPS
Rapid Results Fitness
Early September 2018

Becoming stronger is a subject a mile deep, and endlessly debated. It's also made to be way too complicated for the general population, way too often. Let's not do that here.The beauty of kettlebells is partly due to their rawness and simplicity. Simple, not easy, is what we like to say. Let's keep it simple.

So how do we get stronger in the kettlebell gym? How do we see progress from week to week, both in the numbers stamped on the front of the kettlebell, as well as what we see in the mirror? How can we make our trips to the gym something we look forward to and not just another reminder on our smartphones?

The following are just a few tips on making real progress and getting stronger. Strong like bull. They are neither complicated nor scientific. Sort of like me, except interesting and thought-provoking. They are but a small collection of things that I find spewing out of my big red face during kettlebell class over and over. I've realized that no matter how often I say them, someone was not there to hear it. Some will be a little more broad and applicable across the board. But I'll also go into a few specific moves too. Enjoy, and put them to use.

Sneaky Bells. "Sneaky Bells" is the personal nickname that I've given to very slyly slipping slightly heavier bells into your sets and reps. You know, without your body knowing it and all. What your body doesn't know won't hurt it, right? That's actually totally wrong, but bear with me.

Let's say you have a classic 5x5 set and rep scheme. Instead of using the same weight for all, or steadily trying to increase the weight on each set (which can be demoralizing if you fail), use one bell size heavier somewhere in the middle-ish. For example, the Press. If I'm comfortably pressing the 24kg for five reps over 5 sets, I would sneak the 28kg in on my second or third set, and then return to the 24kg for the remaining sets. If I don't get all five reps on those heavier sets, it's OK. It really is. You can also apply this to individual reps in a given set. Such as using both the 12kg and the 14kg in a single set if the 12kg is your comfort bell. "Sneaky Bells" is a malleable concept. The more sneaky you are, the better it works. It's very similar to a Pyramid Method, though a little less conspicuous I like to think. It's sneaky.

Obviously, there are limitations to being sneaky with your bells. If you physically can't press, squat, deadlift, clean, or get up with the weight using all the right techniques, it's simply not going to happen just yet. But from what I've observed, many times it's a mental block. That's where this applies. Folks can use the same ole' bell for a certain exercise for a very long time and never push the envelope, and consequently never see changes. That's the comfort bell mentioned above. That's their "wooby." Sneak the heavier bell in there, and do it more frequently within your reps and sets over the weeks to come. Before you know it, you're a bell up and it's awesome. It's Progress.

Tension. You hear it all the time from your instructors. We tell you to engage your lats. Squeeze your glutes. Squeeze the handle. Knees up. Brace your core. Pack the shoulders! Do NOT let this become white noise. The body is a single unit that works together and likes to distribute the load. Perform your kettlebell lifts with this in mind. In the words of the legendary Louie Simmons, "You can't fire a cannon from a canoe." Well, I guess you could. Once. Let me know how that works for you. Oh, and another benefit of muscle tension? Protection for your joints.

Work the Negative. This one is very simple and can't always be applied to all moves. If you can't strict-press a weight, push-press it to the top and slowly bring it down with tension. If you can't do a pull-up, safely assist yourself to the top and lower yourself slowly. The pull-up is a separate blog post altogether, but this is one way to help skin the pull-up cat.

Here's a specific. If you can't perform a Get-up with the next size up, push press the weight to the top, then very slowly and with hyper-focus, work the down portion only. Play it safe and use a spotter.

The above concepts work for many kettlebell movements. Let's get into just a few specific moves and common roadblocks.

Getting Stronger in the Swing. This concept is deep, so you'll have to pay close attention. How does one get a stronger, heavier two-hand swing? The staple kettlebell move?? I'm about to blow your mind - swing a heavier freakin' bell. Seriously. Many people are under-swinging, even when their intuition is telling them that the lighter bell is not making them stronger, nor helping their form. You guys know me by now. I lean more towards the conservative side when it comes to moving up in weight. I would not tell you to do something foolish or dangerous. However, this one I'm confident in. Use those powerful hips and glutes to swing some heavy iron and you will see changes in your body. Good ones.

Getting Stronger in the Press using Loaded Cleans. I've already talked about using tension, being sneaky, and working the negative in performing a heavier kettlebell press. Another, albeit related way, to increase your press is Loaded Cleans. Use either your current 1RM press weight, or preferably the next size up (I've used both), and clean it like you mean it. That is, perform a strict kettlebell clean, but don't attempt to press it. Instead, stand there in the Clean for a few seconds with a tighter-than-tight rack position. Squeeze every muscle in your body as hard as you can. Squeeze the heck out of the bell. Squeeze the heck out of your non-loaded hand. Squeeze your glutes and lats so hard that they feel like they are about to cramp. Squeeze your quads. Brace your abs and core as hard as possible. The loaded fist is below the chin. Then safely park the bell, without attempting to press it. Do this 2-3 times with a little rest in between. Then go on with your bad self and press the next heaviest bell. Then gloat about it. Just a little.

So there you have it - a few things to think about in regards to making progress and seeing change in your kettlebell journey. We're just scratching the surface, really. I hope that you'll try some of these and view your trips to the gym as training sessions rather than workouts. I hope you'll ask questions about it.

Oh, and you might ask how all of this fits into kettlebell class at RRF. After all, there's a prescribed workout written on the board, right? That's simple. You don't need to do it all at once, and your instructors are not going to stop you from trying new methods and techniques even if it means deviating from the words on the wall a little. In fact, we'll help you. We can change a few reps here, a set or two there. We can give you a spot. We can elaborate. Hopefully it opens up more dialogue and reveals more rabbit holes for us to dive down. Together.

I've run into a few folks over the years that say, "I tried those kettle-balls once, and they didn't do anything for me." My response is simply, "Then you weren't doing them right." I'm not a jerk. What I mean by that is this: If you're not seeing changes in yourself, your body, your training, there's usually a reason. I hope that we can help you figure it out!


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Girls Gone Strong GGS Spotlight

Girls Gone Strong

What is Girls Gone Strong?
As Molly Galbraith explains on the website for GGS, "We have come together to provide a common voice of body-positive, evidence-based information about strength training, nutrition, having a fit pregnancy, women’s health, physical therapy and injury prevention, fat loss, mindset, and much more. Our Advisory Board members are the top female experts in their fields. These brilliant, world-class health and fitness professionals—along with other highly-qualified contributors we hand select—combine the latest research with decades of experience working with women in the real world to offer solutions that help women reach their goals in a realistic, sustainable, and compassionate way.
Three different editors review our content before it goes back to the author for revisions, and then back to me before it is published. We do everything possible to vet our content to ensure that what we publish is the most up-to-date, evidence-based, helpful, and realistic information for women.We may not always get it right. But we absolutely give a damn and we never stop trying."  
I am thrilled to be a part of such a great community and resource for all women!
I was recently featured in GGS-Girls Gone Strong Blog Spotlight. Read it here:  Betsy Collie Spotlight